Boston Marathon canceled, will be held as a virtual event

The 2020 Boston Marathon has been canceled and turns into an unprecedented virtual race for the first time in its traditional format of 124 years and slated to take place on September 14.
May 29, 2020 | 06:41
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boston marathon turns into virtual race first time in 124 year history
The 2020 Boston Marathon has been canceled.

According to Boston Herald, a virtual run will still be held Sept. 14, Boston Athletic Association officials said Thursday instead of April 20, 2020 as initial schedule.

“It became clear as this crisis developed that Sept. 14 was less and less plausible,” Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said. “The potential second surge could happen anytime between August and October.”

Walsh, speaking at a news conference outside of City Hall, announced that the race “would not be feasible for public-health reasons” in September or at any point this year.

The Boston Athletic Associationhas determined that the traditional one day running of the 124th Boston marathon will not be feasible this year, he said during a news conference.

boston marathon turns into virtual race first time in 124 year history
Mayor Marty Walsh talks about the postponement of the Boston Marathon during a news conference in Boston, on March,13. Michael Dwyer/AP

He said this is the first time in the marathon’s 124-year history that it is completely canceled, though back in 1918 — in the midst of a world war and the Spanish Flu pandemic — the marathon only ran as a military relay. Over the years there have been other modifications, like offering deferrals because of weather and volcanic eruptions.

CNN cited Walsh as saying: “There’s no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity," Walsh said. "This kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or anytime this year.”

Walsh called this a “difficult adjustment," but said that “meeting tough challenges is what the Boston Marathon is all about.”

How is the virtual marathon likely to take place?

According to Boston, participants in the virtual marathon will be required to complete a continuous marathon within a six-hour time period any time between September 7 and 14.

In other words, runners can map out their own 26.2-mile solo run. The Boston Athletic Association only says that it must be completed continuously, on the same day, and not broken up over several days.

And in return for proof of finishing within the six-hour time period, the BAA will send virtual marathoners their official 2020 Boston Marathon program, participant T-shirt, medal, and runner’s bib.

The BAA says the week will also include other virtual offerings, such as panel discussions, champions interviews, and “a downloadable Boston Marathon toolkit,” including a printable finish line and winner’s breaktape for runners who want to recreate at least some aspects of the traditional race.

According to the BAA, further details about the virtual race, such as registration information and any fees for participation or shipping costs, will be communicated to all Boston Marathon entrants in the near future. The virtual race will be open to anyone who had originally entered the April 20 race, including those who chose to get a refund for the postponed race before the announcement Thursday.

The Boston Marathon is hardly the first race to pivot to a virtual event in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has wiped mass gatherings off the board across the world. From local 5Ks to ultramarathons, race organizers have tried to offer the remote solo runs as alternatives to canceled in-person events this year.

boston marathon turns into virtual race first time in 124 year history

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's most prestigious road racing events. The B.A.A. continues to manage this American classic, which has been sponsored by John Hancock Financial since 1986. The Boston Marathon has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity, and method of gaining entry into the race (via qualification).

Official charity program for the Boston Marathon

The runners of the selected charities of the B.A.A.'s Charity Program for the Boston Marathon raise more than $15 million annually and serve areas of need within Greater Boston. The funds and positive impact are important to the success of the B.A.A.'s mission, and the B.A.A. is proud to support these charities and their fundraising endeavors. With special regard to the field of Boston Marathon qualifiers, the B.A.A. has integrated its charity program into the race in an effort which recognizes the running community in and around the Boston Marathon, and the year-round philanthropic endeavors of the Boston Athletic Association.

The Charity Program for the Boston Marathon began in 1989 when the American Liver Foundation became the first charity to receive official entries into the Boston Marathon. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute came aboard in 1990, and since then the program has grown to support at least 30 charities each year.

This year, the Boston Athletic Association announced the 43 organizations selected for the B.A.A.’s Official Charity Program for the 2020 Boston Marathon. Seven new organizations have joined the B.A.A.’s Official Charity Program for the 124th Boston Marathon.

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