This Woman Would Have Won $15,000 At Boston Marathon If She Were A Man

“It makes me sad that there’s not a way for people that are in the mass start and come up from having not as good of a time, can be eligible for the prize money.”



A female runner at the Boston Marathon placed fifth among the women racing. However, unlike the men, she didn’t receive a prize money set for a runner who comes in fifth.

Participants splashed through icy rain during this year’s Boston Marathon but 31-year-old Jessica Chichester managed to cross the finish line fifth in place. The win wasn’t an easy one as the nurse practitioner tirelessly underwent grueling training to achieve the goal.

The prize money for both men and women participants in Boston Marathon is $15,000 but, unfortunately, there are different rules for men and women to qualify for the prize money.

In order to be eligible for the prize money, a female participant must qualify for the elite women’s start (EWS), which requires the highest level of marathon times. The exact time to qualify for EWS varies each year.

According to Communications Director for the Boston Athletic Association T. K. Skenderian, this year the qualifying time for EWS was 2:47:50 and only 46 women qualified. Participants of EWS start the marathon 28 minutes earlier but winners are decided based on their time, not the sequence they cross the finish line.

The irony is these rules don’t apply to male marathoners.

This means if a man crosses the line at number 5, he will receive the prize money regardless of being qualified.

“These are viewed as two separate competitions and this women’s-only start has become the preference of elite women athletes in distance running for more than a decade. Other major marathons, like London, New York, Berlin have a similar procedure. The Olympics and championship-style races are not mixed-gender,” said Skenderian.

The communications director added, “As opposed to starting men and women at the same time, and ultimately having the female competitors lose each other among packs of men (and potentially receive pacing assistance), the EWS allows athletes to compete without obstruction. [The EWS] gives the fastest women the chance to race each other openly" and "allows the women’s race to get more TV coverage.”

It is also a requirement for female marathoners who wish to run in the EWS group to email organizers in advance. If they fail to do so and even if they finish the race in the required time, they abandon their right to the prize money.

Chichester wasn’t part of the group because she fell short by 23 seconds.

“It makes me sad that there’s not a way for people that are in the mass start, that have a breakthrough race and come up from having not as good of a time, can be eligible for the prize money they deserve,” she said.

She wasn’t the only one. Veronica Jackson and Becky Snelson also missed the opportunity to be a part of the elite group not because they don’t have the skills but because they fell short of the cut off to qualify.




Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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