Boston Marathon Canceled for First Time in 124-Year History

Publish date:

The 124th edition of the Boston Marathon has been canceled by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The race was originally scheduled for April 20 but was later postponed and rescheduled for September 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Boston Athletic Association announced that the race will be held as a virtual event. All participants registered for the 2020 race will be offered a full refund of their entry fee. The BAA added that it will accept qualifying performances posted for the 2020 event into the 2021 race but submitting a qualifying time does not guarantee acceptance into the race.

"Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters," BAA CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement. "While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for a historic 124th Boston Marathon."

The September date was an optimistic but longshot plan to hold the race and continue its annual streak that dates back to 1897. The race is traditionally held on Patriot's Day, which is a Massachusetts state holiday to honor the start of the Revolutionary War with the battles in Lexington and Concord. The only modification to the race in its history was a relay version in 1918 due to World War I.

The Boston Marathon features more than 30,000 runners from around the world and many qualify for the race by meeting lofty time standards. In addition to the race participants, thousands of fans gather alongside the road to cheer for friends, family and strangers. Hundreds of volunteers are tasked with aiding with water, fuel and medical assistance. A large, social gathering of that size was just not feasible or wise as the pandemic continues.

More than five million cases have been confirmed globally and the United States recorded its 100,000th death due to the virus this week.

The Boston Marathon is the first World Marathon Major to be canceled due to the coronavirus. In March, the Tokyo Marathon went on as scheduled but only featured 200 elite runners.

The London Marathon was rescheduled from April 26 to Oct. 4. The Berlin Marathon was set for Sept. 17 but race organizers have said that it will not take place on that date. No official cancelation has been announced. 

The Chicago Marathon and New York City Marathons have not announced any plans yet to postpone or cancel from their dates in October and November, respectively.

The 2021 Boston Marathon will be held on April 19. The 125th edition will take place on April 18, 2022.