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Boston Marathon organizers announce October race date with ‘cautious optimism’

The 125th running of the storied event is set for October 11

The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) announced on Tuesday that the 125th running of the Boston Marathon has been tentatively scheduled for October 11, 2021. After they were forced to first postponed and then cancel their race in 2020 due to COVID-19, organizers decided to move their event to the fall to give themselves the best shot at holding an in-person run in 2021. This is all contingent on the COVID-19 state reopening plan in Massachusetts, and B.A.A. CEO Tom Grilk noted that the new run date is announced “with a cautious optimism.” 

As mentioned in the B.A.A. announcement, Massachusetts is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening plan, and road races are not permitted until Phase 4. The state has more than eight months to get to Phase 4 in order for the race to go ahead, but Grilk and the B.A.A. team are not willing to declare anything with 100 per cent certainty just yet. “We will continue to be guided by science and our continued collaborative work with local, city, state and public health officials,” said Grilk. “If we are able to hold an in-person race in October, the safety of participants, volunteers, spectators and community members will be paramount.”

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Grilk and his team have a long few months ahead of them as they wait to see if they can hold their race. They have already cancelled the in-person B.A.A. 5K (normally held the weekend before the Boston Marathon, which is always run on a Monday) and replaced it with a virtual race that will be open from April 16 to 18. To be forced to cancel the marathon again would be a huge blow, both to the B.A.A. and running community at large. 

Geoffrey Kirui
Geoffrey Kirui wins the 121st Boston Marathon. Photo: Michael Doyle

“While it was of course the right thing to do, cancelling the 2020 Boston Marathon for the first time in its 124-year history was one of the hardest announcements to make,” said Boston mayor Martin Walsh. “Today, I’m filled with hope, as we set our sights on October for the running of the 125th Boston Marathon. We have a ways to go before we’re out of the woods, but guided by sound judgment and the advice of our public health experts, I am hopeful that we’ll get to enjoy the return of one of Boston’s most storied traditions this fall.”

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In addition to the in-person race date, organizers announced they will offer a virtual race for the second year in a row. For more information on the 2021 event, click here.