I must not have made myself clear. It happens alot! I'm not talking about the effect of the 2013 qualifying times being lowered. I was addressing the two tier (week one versus week two)registration proceedure for any set of preset qualifying times biasing first week registration in favor of younger men.
As to your first point, the best way to evaluate whether a set of BQ standards are more or less challenging for women or men, no matter how they are administered, is to look at the relative finishing-time percentiles needed to meet any given pair of qualifying times (e.g., maybe a man needs to be in the top 15% of all male finishers versus a woman needing to be in the top 20% of all women finishers for a given age group). I don't have sufficient data to do such an analysis exactly, but average finishing time data from this site for 2009 are indicative. Men 35-39 on average ran the marathon 28 minutes faster than women. Men 20-34 ran the race 29 minutes faster than women. Relative to women, youth favored men on average.
However, the fact that many people believe as you do that the preset BQ times are easier for any group to meet than for another is simply one more reason to do away with preset qualifying times altogether. Far simpler would be to set the number of competitive qualifing slots, not times. For instance for male and female runners, equal numbers of bibs (half of the competitive slots for each), or proportional to all marathon finishers (60% for men and 40% for women in 2009 according to this site), or proportional to the top 15% of finishers by sex (whatever that might be, insufficient data here) and let runners' actual performances determine the bubble times and which men and women get the bibs in the end. That is, BAA could design the sort of field they want—numbers of men versus women and the representation of each age group—and then runners' performances would determine who makes up that field.
Your second point addresses the effort needed to meet the faster BQ times in 2013. My guess is that it's a heck of a lot harder for a 55 year old guy to find 11 minutes than it is for a 32 year old. You're correct, of course, that 11 minutes is a bigger proportion of a faster time than a slower one. But in 2009, for men the average 55-59 finishing time was 4:40 and the average 20-34 time was 4:18, 22 minutes faster. Clawing back half the time, 11 minutes, that twenty years takes away may be way harder than you think! But again, why focus on indirect determinants of who goes to Hopkington? Let actual performances, whatever subjective level of effort they require, set the field.
Your third point also doesn't get to the heart of the matter about the two tier system. Your example rests on the two facts that the qualifying window is 18 months and that slower BQs kick in at 35. Lots of people think 18 months allows the use of performances that are not representative of a runners current abilities. That's as may be, but hasn't anything to do with the two tier system of administering preset qualifying times. Similarly, the fact that BQ times rise at 35, rather than at 28, also doesn't get to the meat of the two-tier issue either. My concern would remain no matter how long the qualifying window or how age groups are defined as long as preset qualifying times and the two tier system are used.
As long as any preset qualifying times are used, the BAA is essentially guessing about the composition of the final field. The two tier system will favor young men in that composition. It needn't be so. If the BAA wants a field representative of the best of all runners, it can have that. As I said before, the BAA may not want it; it's their race.
One last thing to ponder, all sorts of other races, auto races for instance, set field compositions, not qualifying times? The Indianapolis 500 field comprises the 33 fastest cars, not the first 33 cars to meet meet a preset qualifying standard. The BAA doesn't need to reinvent the race-qualification wheel. That problem was solved a long time ago.
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