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5 reasons runners are looking forward to 2021

We don't blame you if you can't wait for 2020 to end

For runners, 2020 was a year of noes. No races, no group runs and, at least for a while, no (or very little) fun. We eventually figured out how to have fun while keeping safe, which is one of the reasons next year looks like it has the potential to be better than 2020. Although the pandemic won’t magically end when we ring in the new year, the are several reasons runners should look forward to 2021, which could be a year of yeses. 

We might not get back to mass participation races with tens of thousands of runners in 2021, but small-scale races might be able to run. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile 

Back to races 

It doesn’t look like mass participation races with thousands and thousands of runners will make a comeback in 2021, but that doesn’t mean smaller events won’t be held. As the pandemic wore on throughout the year, race organizers and event teams came up with plans for COVID-friendly runs. These organizing teams have worked closely with local and provincial health officials to create safe race formats, and that planning won’t stop throughout the winter. Come spring, there could be a good number of race opportunities for runners across Canada, and while you shouldn’t expect to run alongside 10,000 of your closest running buddies, you might get the chance to run in a real race in 2021, which is definitely a reason to get excited. 

RELATED: How the Muskoka Marathon became one of Ontario’s only races during COVID-19

The fall marathon schedule

With the postponements of the Tokyo, Boston and London marathons, all six World Marathon Majors (WMMs) are set to be run in the fall of 2021. The mass participation events at these races might not be able to go ahead as planned, but after the success of the London Marathon’s elite-only event this year, there’s a good chance that the other five WMMs will follow suit and host elite fields next year. This packed fall schedule will make for an exciting few weeks of races for running fans to watch, which will be a welcome change following 2020, a year in which we only saw a few elite marathons. 

Tokyo Marathon
The Tokyo Marathon ran an elite-only event in 2020.

Tokyo 2021

One of the biggest disappointments for athletes in 2020 was the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics. As we learned this year, nothing can be considered a sure thing in the age of COVID-19, but International Olympic Committee officials have expressed their confidence that the Games will go ahead next summer. At the moment, the Games appear to be a go, and that is a big reason to look forward to 2021. 

RELATED: Planning for a year of unknowns in 2021

Personal challenges 

When COVID-19 first hit, we were thrown into the world of no races with pretty much no warning. Now, after months of living through a pandemic, we know how to keep ourselves busy when we can’t race. We’re confident that race organizers will be able to get their events up and ready to go with proper COVID-19 guidelines in place next year, but now we’ve all gotten creative and figured out how to come up with different running challenges. Whether you’re into time trials, ultra challenges or any other kind of personal competition, you’re set for an entertaining 2021.

Virtual challenges and events 

This is the same deal as the last reason to look forward to 2021. When the pandemic first started, race organizing teams were caught off-guard and left without many options for their events. Many races transitioned to virtual formats, but some cancelled everything for 2020. In addition to planning COVID-friendly in-person races for next year, a lot of these organizing teams have virtual events and challenges ready for 2021, which means we’ll all have so many options to keep ourselves busy, no matter how the global health situation looks. 

RELATED: Why you should get into virtual racing