Boston Athletic Association and city officials announced on Thursday that for the first time in 124 years, the Boston Marathon will be canceled. It had been rescheduled from its original April 20 date to September 14, amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, but now will be offered as a virtual event.
“Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters,” said Tom Grilk, C.E.O. of the Boston Athletic Association, in a written statement. “While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon.”
Instead of the traditional race, the oldest annual marathon in the world, participants will be given a full refund and offered a virtual entry instead, which can be completed anywhere and any time between September 7–14. The B.A.A. will also hold other online events like workshops, seminars, athlete interviews, and downloadable finish line tapes. In order to receive t-shirts and medals, runners will have to finish their 26.2 miles within six hours and provide proof of timing.
Boston officials had announced on March 13 during a press conference that they had postponed the 2020 Boston Marathon. The state was going to declare September 14 a holiday, tentatively called “Marathon Day,” just like the spring Monday is Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts. The cancellation in 2020 is historic—the storied race even continued in 1918, though it was modified as a military relay because of the country’s involvement in World War I, according to the Boston Globe.
It remains to be seen what will become of the other major marathons that are scheduled to take place in the. fall.
The London Marathon, for example, has been rescheduled from April 26 to October 4. Runners will be able to choose to use their entry on the rescheduled date, defer entry to 2021, or receive a refund of the registration fee. The Berlin Marathon was supposed to take place on September 27 has already been canceled.
The Tokyo Marathon, which like the Berlin, Boston, and London, is part of the World Marathon Majors (WMM), held an elite-only race on March 1—it usually draws a field of more than 35,000 runners. The Rome and Barcelona marathons were also among the races that will not go on this year—other international events, like the world half marathon championships in Poland, have been postponed until the fall.
U.S.A. Track & Field is also rescheduling the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials, which were scheduled for June, following the postponement of the 2020 Olympics to 2021.