Boston Marathon tweaks start times to emphasize women’s race

Runners approach the finish line during the 122nd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON — The Boston Marathon is tweaking its start times to send the elite men off before the women for the race's 124th edition this year, a reversal that organizers hope will give the women's race more attention.

The men will leave at 9:37 a.m. for the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston's Back Bay, with the elite women leaving eight minutes later.

Boston Athletic Association officials said the new times will minimize the chance of the top men passing women in the elite field and overtaking coverage of the women's finish. Since the leaders are accompanied by media trucks and police motorcycle escorts, it was also a safety issue.

“I’m excited about the new start times,” 2018 champion Des Linden said. “The B.A.A. has taken industry-leading steps to ensure our safety and a world-class experience. I am especially excited about the additional coverage in the final miles — all the world’s eyes will be on us as we head for the finish in Boston.”

The switch to separate starts in 2004 was designed to give the women's race more attention. But the short time between finishes in recent years has undermined that goal.

In last year's race, the top women started at 9:32 a.m. and the men led the general field from the start at 10 a.m. Women's winner Worknesh Degefa finished in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 31 seconds, at about 9:56 a.m., and men's winner Lawrence Cherono crossed the Boylston Street finish line about 12 minutes later in 2:07:57.

Wheelchair and handcycle competitors for the April 20 race will leave from 9:02 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The bulk of the field of 31,500 runners will begin starting at 10 a.m. in four waves, the last of which departs at 11:15 a.m.