Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced Thursday afternoon that for the first time ever, the Boston Marathon has officially been cancelled. The race was originally scheduled for April 20, but in March, organizers postponed the event until September 14 with the hope that this would be enough time for the COVID-19 pandemic to pass. The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has said there will be a virtual event in lieu of the race, and it will be open to runners registered for the 2020 Boston Marathon between September 7 and 14.
The @BAA has announced that the 124th Boston Marathon will be held as a virtual event, following Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s cancellation of the marathon as a mass participation road running event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/tlIdvsU9sq
— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) May 28, 2020
Cancellation and virtual run
Participants who were registered for the 124th running of the Boston Marathon will receive full refunds of their entry fees, but racers will not necessarily retain their spot in the 2021 event. In a B.A.A. press release, it says the “qualifying window and registration dates for the 2021 Boston Marathon will be announced and posted in the coming weeks,” and although runners who qualified for the 2020 event won’t have to run another qualifying time, it doesn’t sound like their spot on the start list is guaranteed for next year.
As for the virtual event, it’s open to all registered runners for 2020, Tom Grilk, CEO of the B.A.A., said in the release. “Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators and supporters. While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon.” Runners will have six hours to run the virtual 42.2K, and all finishers will receive an official Boston Marathon program, participant t-shirt, medal and bib.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has CANCELED the Boston Marathon due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Boston Athletic Association has announced that the 124th edition of the race will be held as a virtual event.
All participants who were originally registered will be offered a refund. pic.twitter.com/deWtkQjTm9
— Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez) May 28, 2020
Other World Marathon Majors
This cancellation seemed inevitable, but it was just a matter of when the call would be made. If the event had gone ahead as planned, it likely would have been a shell of the former event with very few runners being able to travel to the U.S. internationally. The next question pertains to the other World Marathon Majors. Restrictions in Germany have forced the Berlin Marathon (originally scheduled for September 27) to postpone to a date after October 24 or cancel altogether. The London and Chicago marathons are set for October 4 and 11, and the New York City Marathon is scheduled for November 1. With a decision made on Boston, a domino effect of World Major cancellations could be on its way.