Boston, May 28 (efe-epa).- The 2020 Boston Marathon will take the form of a virtual event, organizers said Thursday after the city’s mayor canceled the road race due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters,” Tom Grilk, CEO of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), said in a statement. “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 initial reaction of the city and the BAA to Covid-19 was to reschedule the run from Patriots’ Day – a Massachusetts state holiday observed on the third Monday in April – to Sept. 14.
At the time of the postponement, Mayor Marty Walsh said that he hoped the marathon would be held because of the roughly $220 million the race generates for Boston’s economy.
But as the United States became the center of the global pandemic, with more than 100,000 dead, Walsh said he concluded that “this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on Sept. 14, or any time this year.”
Though the winner is invariably one of several dozen elite runners, the marathon attracts some 30,000 competitors, the vast majority of them amateurs, and Walsh ruled out doing what the organizers of the Tokyo Marathon did in March: restricting the race to 200 runners and excluding spectators.
The Boston Marathon also has a charitable function, each year raising around $40 million for worthy causes.
All of those who registered for this year’s competition, originally scheduled for April 20, will have their entry fees refunded, Grilk said.
They will also be invited to run the 26.2 miles on courses of their own choosing with the promise of a medallion if they go the distance.
“Participants in the virtual marathon will be required to complete a continuous marathon within a six-hour time period any time between Sept. 7 and 14,” the BAA said.
In conjunction with the virtual race, the BAA said it plans “a series of virtual events and activities throughout September’s Marathon Week in an effort to bring the Boston Marathon experience to the constituencies that the organization serves here in Boston, across the United States, and around the world.” EFE ss/dr