2021 Boston Marathon postponed to the autumn

Sarah Lorge Butler
·3-min read
Photo credit: Maddie Meyer - Getty Images
Photo credit: Maddie Meyer - Getty Images

From Runner's World

  • The 2021 Boston Marathon, which is typically run on the third Monday in April, has been postponed until the autumn because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

  • The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has not released any information about registration or a possible date for the race.

  • If the race takes place in September of next year, almost 29 months will have elapsed since the last in-person Boston Marathon.

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced that the 2021 Boston Marathon, originally scheduled for April 19, will be pushed to the autumn. The BAA seeks to announce a new date for the race before the end of the year.

Mass participation races continue to grapple with how to hold their events safely in a pandemic. Boston follows the Tokyo Marathon and the London Marathon—two other World Marathon Majors traditionally held in the beginning of the year—in moving to the autumn next year.

The announcement comes as no surprise. Registration for the Boston Marathon, which is traditionally held in September for the following April’s race, was put off indefinitely in August.

But the official announcement of the postponement shows the upheaval COVID-19 has brought to the running industry, for longer than anyone might have predicted.

Should some form of the Boston Marathon take place by September, almost 29 months will have elapsed since the most recent in-person race, which was held on April 15, 2019. (In the early part of 2020, organisers originally postponed the event from April 20 until September 14, before ultimately cancelling any in-person race for a virtual race instead.)

'With fewer than six months until Patriots’ Day and with road races prohibited until Phase 4 of the Massachusetts reopening plan, we are unable to host the Boston Marathon this coming April,' Tom Grilk, CEO of the BAA, said in a release. 'By shifting our focus to a fall date, we can continue to work with stakeholders to adjust the in-person experience for runners and supporters alike. Prioritizing the safety of participants, volunteers, spectators, and community members, we continue to assess all elements of the race, including a potential reduced field size or weekend date.'

It’s unclear when registration will open for the 2021 event, how large the field will be, or who will be eligible to run. Boston typically has more than 30,000 finishers, with roughly 80 percent getting into the race by running faster than the qualifying time for their age and gender and the rest gaining entry by running for a charity or earning an invitational bib.

Qualifying for Boston is the Holy Grail for many recreational runners, a marker that shows a level of ability and dedication. Charity runners often have to promise to raise five-figure sums in order to gain a bib.

Some events have experimented with scaled-down versions focusing on the fastest of the fast. Tokyo held an elite-only race on March 1, 2020, and the London Marathon pulled off an elite-only race, with 30 women and 30 men running separately, on a 19-loop course on October 4.

Massachusetts was hard hit early on by the coronavirus, and in October, the Boston Globe reported that rates of COVID-19 deaths remain higher than in other neighbouring states.

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