By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(24-Sep) -- An elite-only marathon has been organized for Sunday, December 20, in Chandler, Arizona, organizers announced today. The one-time event, called The Marathon Project, will be held on a 4.3-mile (6.9 km) loop surrounding the Rawhide Events Center on the Gila River Indian Reservation. Participation will be limited to 50 men and 50 women.
"We wanted to create a flat, fast course for professional athletes so they could showcase their talents," said Josh Cox of BOOM Management who is one of the race founders along with Big River Race Management's Matt Helbig and HOKA Northern Arizona Elite's Ben Rosario. "We wanted to look back at 2020 and know that we did everything within our power to help not only the athletes, but also the sport."
With every important marathon in the United States cancelled since March due to the pandemic --including the prestigious Boston, Chicago and New York City races-- elite marathoners have had few chances to compete seriously. A lucky few have received invitations to the London and Valencia Marathons --which will be held as elite-only races in October and December, respectively-- but most marathoners have had to make due with virtual races, treadmill challenges, and pop-up track meets.
Organizers said today that automatic entries would be given to the top-25 male and female finishers from the 2020 USA Olympic Trials Marathon. Several have already decided they will compete, including Stephanie Bruce (6th), Kellyn Taylor (8th) and Julia Kohnen (10th) on the women's side, and Augustus Maiyo (5th), Martin Hehir (6th), Colin Bennie (9th), and Scott Fauble (12th), on the men's.
"The course looks so flat and fast it almost looks boring," joked 2:24 marathoner Kellyn Taylor through a statement. "But that's 2020; making lemonade out of lemons."
The weather should be good. A typical day in Chandler at that time of year would have a low temperature of 40F/4C and a high temperature of 66F/19C. The race will begin at 7:30 a.m., and pacemakers will be used to encourage fast times.
Organizers said that the event will be fully compliant with USATF and World Athletics anti-COVID precautions, and will also meet the State of Arizona guidelines for in-person, outdoor events. Spectators will not be permitted.
Registration for interested athletes begins today at http://www.themarathonproject.com