BOSTON (WHDH) - Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Thursday that the running of the 2020 Boston Marathon in September is no longer “feasible” due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is the first time in history that the race will not be held in person.
“The Boston Athletic Association, with our input and support, has determined that the traditional one-day running of the 124th Boston Marathon is not feasible this year for public health reasons,” Walsh said during a news conference at City Hall. “There is no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity.”
Participants who registered for the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston, which was rescheduled in March to Sept, 14., will have their entry fees refunded.
The cancelation marks the first in the iconic race’s 124-year history.
“This kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on Sept. 14 or any time this year,” Walsh said. “So we’ll be joining the B.A.A. in an alternative approach to the Marathon that allows runners to participate remotely and allows all of us to celebrate this meaningful race in a way that we can also support our charities and our local economy.”
Runners who are interested in running the race virtually are encouraged to do so. They will be awarded a unicorn medal and special shirts upon completion, according to Thomas S. Grilk, CEO of the B.A.A.
“We at the B.A.A. are instead planning a historic virtual Boston Marathon that will feature a week of events and activities for our athletes and supporters,” Grilk said.
When the Marathon was initially postponed on March 12, there were only about 20 COVID-19 cases in Boston. Since then, that number has ballooned to more than 13,000.
“At the time, it was a forward-thinking decision. It helped us set the tone for major decisions nationwide,” Walsh said. “It became clear as this developed that Sept. 14 was less and less plausible.”
First-time runner Maria Kousi would have completed the time-honored challenge in honor of her father who ranked fourth in 1980. She says she’s disappointed that the in-person race got canceled.
“It was kind of expected,” she said. “But, it still feels like a punch in the stomach. It feels like it blows all the air out of you.”
Walsh said the decision to cancel the event will cost Boston about $200 million in revenue.
(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)