Boston Marathon Canceled for 1st Time in 124-Year History amid COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2020

FILE - In this April 15, 2019, file photo, Lawrence Cherono, left, of Kenya, runs to the finish line to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, right, in Boston. The Boston Marathon is offering refunds for the first time because of the new coronavirus pandemic. Race organizers say anyone who was entered in the 124th edition of the race this month can still run on the rescheduled date, Sept. 14. But if they can’t make it, they can have their money back. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The Boston Marathon announced Thursday that this year's event has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In lieu of honoring runners as they cross the finish line, officials are allowing participants to complete a 26.2-mile run on their own to receive any Marathon-related items:

Boston Marathon @bostonmarathon

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. https://t.co/tlIdvsU9sq

Boston Marathon @bostonmarathon

Participants in the virtual 2020 Boston Marathon will be required to complete the 26.2 mile distance within 6 hours & provide proof of timing. All finishers of the virtual race will receive an official Boston Marathon program, participant t-shirt, medal, & runner’s bib.

The Associated Press' Jimmy Golen noted this is the first time in 124 years the Boston Marathon has been canceled.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made it clear that staging the Marathon in the fall isn't possible.

"There's no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity," he said during an official briefing. "And while our goal and hope was to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on Sept. 14 or anytime this year."

According to Golen, the format of the 1918 Marathon was changed because of World War I, while the 2013 installment was abandoned after a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line.

The 2020 Marathon was originally scheduled for April 20 but then postponed until Sept. 14 as the pandemic took hold in the United States.

While a number of states across the country are relaxing their stay-at-home guidelines, the status of large public gatherings in the fall remains unclear, especially with the fear a second wave of COVID-19 cases could arise.

Per Golen, more than 30,000 people traditionally run in the Boston Marathon, and crowds as high as 1 million watch the race.


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