Boston Gives Up on This Year's Marathon

Organizers already had postponed but couldn't solve social distancing requirement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 28, 2020 4:12 PM CDT
For the First Time Since 1896, No Boston Marathon
Last year's Boston Marathon begins.   (AP Photo/Stew Milne, File)

Organizers canceled the Boston Marathon on Thursday for the first time in its history, bowing to the social distancing requirements of the coronavirus outbreak and ending a 124-year run that had persisted through two World Wars, a volcanic eruption, and even another pandemic. The race, which draws a field of 30,000 and already had been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14, will be replaced by a virtual event in which participants who verify that they ran 26.2 miles on their own will receive their finisher's medal, the AP reports. "It became clear as this crisis developed that Sept. 14 was less and less plausible," Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference outside City Hall, where runners traditionally gather for a pre-race pasta dinner. "This is a challenge, but meeting tough challenges is what the Boston Marathon is all about."

Although the title of Boston Marathon champion is contested by a few dozen top athletes, the field includes more than 30,000 recreational and charity runners, with as many as 1 million people lined up along the course trek from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay. That presented organizers with a social distancing problem that won't be solved by the fall. Begun in 1897, it's the world's longest-running annual marathon. In 1918, the format was modified to a relay due to World War I; the 2013 race was stopped when two bombs exploded at the finish line. "There is a pretty rich history of accommodation and addressing reality," a race executive said. Those who paid the entry fee for this year's race can get their money back and can participate in the virtual marathon in September. Qualifying times will be eligible for the 2021 Boston Marathon.

(More Boston Marathon stories.)

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