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Boston Marathon announces reduced field size for 2021 event

With a cap of just 20,000 participants, this year may be the toughest BQ yet

In January, the Boston Athletics Association (B.A.A.) announced that they planned to host an in-person race on October 11, 2021, and that they hoped to keep the number of participants as close to previous years as possible. On Monday, the organization finally announced that the field size for this year’s race will be 20,000 participants — 33 per cent less than in previous years.

Boston Marathon security

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Tom Grilk, president and C.E.O. of the B.A.A., said in a press release that the organization has been working closely with local, city and state partners to determine a field size that will allow for proper social distancing throughout the entire course, most notably at the start and the finish.

“In addition to a smaller field than in previous years, we will have significant additional protocols in place to ensure participant and public health,” Grilk said. “We are committed to making the oldest annual marathon in the world as safe as possible in October.”

Registration for the race typically spans across two weeks, but this year it will be open for just three days, between April 20 at 10 a.m. EST and April 23 at 5 p.m. EST. Anyone who has achieved a valid Boston Marathon qualifying time on or after September 15, 2018, is welcome to submit an application at any point during those three days, and will be notified of their acceptance or non-acceptance once all of the applications have been verified. Finishers of the in-person event will receive a special unicorn medal in honour of the race’s 125th anniversary.

Anyone who is not accepted for the in-person race or who has not achieved Boston qualifying standard has the option to sign up for the virtual race, which has a cap of 70,000 participants. The virtual race will be held over the race weekend between October 8 to 10, and registration for the event will open on Tuesday, March 30, at 10 a.m. EST.

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