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Boston Marathon Cancelled; Virtual Race Option Offered

By David Monti
(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Linden_Finish_Tape_Crop_Boston_Marathon_2018_04_16_Jane_Monti_With_Credit(28-May) -- The already-postponed 2020 Boston Marathon has been cancelled for the first time since its inception in 1897.  The announcement came today from both Boston mayor Marty Walsh and the Boston Athletic Association, the race founders and organizers.  The race, the oldest continuously-contested marathon in the world, had already been postponed from its original date on the third Monday in April to Monday, September 14.  But with the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic still uncertain both in Boston and elsewhere, officials decided that holding the race was impossible.

"The B.A.A., with our input and support, has determined that the traditional, one-day running of the 124th Boston Marathon is not feasible this year for public health reasons," Walsh tweeted.  "While our goal and our hope is to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or any time this year."

Registered runners will be offered a refund and the chance to run the 124th edition of the race virtually.

"All participants who were originally registered for the April 20, 2020, event will be offered a full refund of their entry fee associated with the race and will have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative to the 124th Boston Marathon, which can be run any time between September 7 – 14," read a statement from the B.A.A.  "The B.A.A. will also offer a series of virtual events and activities throughout September's Marathon Week in an effort to bring the Boston Marathon experience to the constituencies that the organization serves here in Boston, across the United States, and around the world."

The Boston Marathon, part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM), had 26,632 finishers in 2019 and was the third-largest marathon in the United States behind the TCS New York City Marathon and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  The race was held every year since inception despite bad weather, global conflicts, political unrest, and even the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic (although the event was held as a relay for USA military teams that year).  It delivers over $200 million in economic impact each year to the city of Boston.

Besides the large field of runners, the even larger group of spectators who traditionally line the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston could also be in grave danger of virus transmission.  Their health and welfare also had to be considered.

"Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters," said Tom Grilk, C.E.O. of the B.A.A. through a statement.  "While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon."

Also, the two companion events normally held on the Saturday before the marathon, the B.A.A. 5-K and B.A.A. Invitational Mile are also cancelled.  All registered participants will be offered refunds.

Separately the BMW Berlin Marathon, also part of the AWMM, cannot be held in its usual fashion with over 44,000 finishers on Sunday, September 27, due to a ban on large in-person events in Germany through late October.  Organizers of that event have not yet said what will happen.  In a statement posted on their website yesterday, organizers said that they were still working on it.

"Unfortunately, we cannot give you this certainty at this point in time," read the statement.  "What we really know so far is that the BMW BERLIN MARATHON 2020 cannot take place on September 26 and 27, 2020 as planned."  The statement continued: "We continue to put all our energy into considering various options."

PHOTO: Des Linden winning the 2018 Boston Marathon (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

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