How Joe Took 55 Minutes Off His Marathon to Qualify for Boston — at Age 51

If ever a season has punched me in the face to say, “Hey idiot, notice me!”,  fall did it today.

With planning for the release of the book and the cross-country tour to accompany it, the past month has been the busiest of my life — I’m ashamed to admit that I’m far beyond out-of-touch with the weather and the season and so many things that matter. I take no pride whatsoever in being busy, but without any experience in the book-launch-and-tour department, it happened.

But today — coincidentally or not, the same day as the autumnal equinox — I looked out the window and noticed that fall had arrived. Erin roasted some sugar pumpkins from our garden using this method from Oh She Glows, and tonight I’ll use some of the output to make risotto (without the butter or cheese, though — that recipe is from before I was vegan).

Football is on, an evening run is planned, and pumpkin ale is in the fridge … fall, I am noticing (and appreciating) you.

But what does fall have to do with the title of the post? Quite a bit, actually.

Perhaps my strongest association to this season is that of qualifying for Boston. It was at the Wineglass Marathon in October, in upstate New York with fall in all its glory, that I qualified, after putting everything I had into it for seven years. As emotional an experience as it was, it’s no surprise that every year when the colors turn and the wind gets a chill, I’m reminded of that day and that proud accomplishment.

The interview I’m sharing today is with my friend Joe, whose Boston-qualifying story is strangely similar to mine. Like me, Joe ran his qualifying race at BQ-friendly Wineglass. Also like me, Joe’s first marathon times gave no indication whatsoever that he’d ever do any more than spectate at Boston.

And of course, Joe credits his vegan diet with a big part of his enormous improvement, just as going vegetarian helped me close the 10 minute gap between myself and a Boston bib.


Joe Richardson, ready to cross the line and call himself a Boston qualifier.

The big difference is that while I did all of this in my late 20’s, Joe qualified at the age of 51! At an age when most runners think decline is inevitable, Joe took 55 minutes off his previous PR marathon and earned himself a spot in Boston (which he’ll run in 2014).

I hope you enjoy the interview. In it, I pick Joe’s brain about his diet, what it was that made him think that he could get to Boston, and the training that made it happen. But mostly, I’m sharing it so that it will inspire you — especially if you’re like Joe or me, and qualifying for Boston seems so impossible but some part of you won’t let the crazy idea go.

Click the button below to listen to the interview:

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  1. I love listening to people who are accomplishing the things that I want to. It helps to keep me going.

  2. Way to go Joe for qualifying at age 51, im much younger and no where near being able to do that. Keep up the good work.

  3. Congratulations, Joe! I ran my first marathon this weekend (20+ minutes over BQ time), and cannot wait to try the No Meat Athlete plan. Eating a vegan diet has dramatically increased my athletic performance. It has completely eliminated all stomach and digestive problems I ever had while running–I can secretly laugh at my friends popping Tums and Imodium before a race!

  4. Congrats to your friend for qualifying and I’m glad you finally slowed down enough to notice the season has changed.

  5. Way to go Joe and thanks for the inspriation. I got into running late in life and its cool to see some succeed at a goal after 50. Gives me hope that I can do it even though I started late.

  6. Great article/story guys on how to accomplish great things.

  7. I listened to the interview and I was inspired. I admire Joe who at age 51 and made it to Boston Marathon is incredible. 5Ks and 10K marathons are incredible, he even did a triathlon in 2006, something I have long wanted to try. I wish Joe’s determination would rub off of me so I can say, I have accomplished a goal too. Great post and interview!

  8. Thanks for the inspiration. This is very motivating. Congrats Joe and good luck!

  9. Christopher Quinn says:

    As a runner who struggles with bad knees I find this article very inspiring! 51 years of age is not old, but it certainly is not young!! Congratulations on your accomplishment!!

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