Boston Marathon Canceled For The First Time In Its 124-Year History

by Julie Scagell
Boston Marathon Canceled For The First Time Due To Coronavirus
David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe/Getty

The race was originally moved from April to September

The 2020 Boston Marathon has officially been canceled. The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) made the announcement yesterday, marking the first time in 124 years that the race will not be held. The event was originally scheduled for its usual April timeframe, then rescheduled to September due to the pandemic.

“While our goal and our hope is 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 any time this year,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced on Twitter. In its place, a virtual marathon will be hosted by the organization.

“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, CEO of the BAA. “While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon. The spirit of Boston and the spirit of the Boston Marathon is to be strong and to be smart. When necessity drives you in a direction you might not have liked, you need to have the strength, the wisdom and the guidance from public officials to do what’s right.”

Runners who were originally registered for the 2020 marathon will be offered a full refund of their entry fee. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to participate in the 124th Boston Marathon remotely anytime between Sept. 7 and 14. Runners must complete the 26.2 miles within six hours, and they will need to provide proof of timing to the BAA.

“Virtual offerings for participants during that week will include exclusive panel discussions, champions interviews, and a downloadable Boston Marathon toolkit that includes signature race elements such as a printable finish line, winner’s breaktape, and more,” the website says. Information on how to enter the virtual Boston Marathon will be communicated to all who registered in the coming weeks.

According to the BAA, registration for the 2021 Boston Marathon will open toward the end of September but cannot use their virtual times toward qualifying. Runners can use their 2020 Boston Marathon qualifying time for the 2021 Boston Marathon, with a qualifying window beginning Sept. 15, 2018. There were 31,500 athletes expected to participate in the 124th Boston Marathon, and with more than one million on hand to watch the historic event, maintaining social distancing would have been nearly impossible.

Walsh addressed the disappointment of the situation, saying in part, “This is a challenge, but meeting tough challenges is what the Boston Marathon is all about. It’s a symbol of our city’s and our commonwealth’s resilience. So it’s incumbent upon all of us to dig deep, like a marathon runner, like we did in 2013, and keep that spirit alive.”