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Montreal Marathon cancelled due to ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty

Event organizers were confident their race would go ahead as planned this fall, but new provincial guidelines have forced them to cancel

Organizers of the Marathon Beneva de Montréal announced on Tuesday that their race has been cancelled. The event was set to run from September 24 to 26, but the latest news from the Quebec government on the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan prevents a race of the marathon’s size from being held so soon. Événements GPCQM, the marathon’s new parent company, has already set a date for the 2022 event, and runners can look forward to a return to racing on the streets of Montreal from September 23 to 25 of next year. 

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This year’s race would have been the 30th edition of the Montreal Marathon and the first under the new title sponsor Beneva, a Quebec insurance company, and Événements GPCQM. In an interview with Canadian Running in May, Événements GPCQM CEO Sébastien Arsenault said he and his team never considered organizing a virtual race as a backup plan for the marathon, and that they instead wanted to go all-in on an in-person event. He stuck to that mindset in his cancellation announcement, saying that he and the other organizers agreed it’s best to refocus and begin planning next year’s comeback. 

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“The Marathon Beneva de Montréal is a historic, signature event for the city,” Arsenault said. “If we consider the restrictions as of now, every possible scenario would mean a completely watered-down event. We wouldn’t be able to do justice to the scope of the experience or comply with the many health and operational guidelines.”

Arsenault noted that, although the COVID-19 forecast for the summer and fall looks promising, there are no guarantees for how the provincial reopening plan will shake out. “The fact remains that there is still uncertainty, and the nature of our event requires significant operational and human planning that could not be arranged at the last minute,” he said. “There are limits to agility, especially when you will be occupying public space and requiring extensive deployment of public services.”

While the race never got a true shot at being run this year, the city of Montreal and Beneva have both shown support for the organizing team at Événements GPCQM, and both parties have said they will continue to help with the push for next year’s race. 

Rock 'n' Roll Montreal Marathon
A shot from the 2017 Montreal Marathon. Photo: Kevin Morris.

“As the title partner of the Marathon Beneva de Montréal, we agree with Événements GPCQM’s decision to cancel its September races, and are already looking forward enthusiastically to the 2022 edition,” said Beneva communications executive vice-president Martin Robert

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Arsenault was confident the race could go ahead, but he was always realistic when considering the pandemic, and he acknowledged that things could change without much warning and force the cancellation of the event. With that in mind, he guaranteed that all registrants would receive a full refund for their race, and his team has followed through with that, giving participants the option to get their race and transaction fees back or to defer their registration until the 2022 race. 

For more information on the cancelled Montreal Marathon, click here