Boston Marathon canceled for first time in 124-year history

Sports | 29 May 2020 10:10 am

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.

“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.

Although the title of Boston Marathon champion is contested by a few dozen elite 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.

“There’s no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity,” Walsh said. “While our goal and our 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 any time this year.”

The longest-running annual marathon in the world, the Boston Marathon began in 1897 when 15 men drew a starting line in the dirt in Ashland and headed for the city to commemorate the first modern Olympic Games the previous year. 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, several hours after the winners had finished but while many recreational runners were still on the course.-AP

 

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