The organizers have canceled the oldest marathon race in the world due to the impossibility to observe the rules of social distance.
The Boston Athletic Association on Thursday decided to cancel the race, which has been held annually for the past 124 years despite two world wars, a volcanic eruption, and a pandemic. This year the marathon was canceled in order to comply with the requirements of social distance and to prevent the coronavirus from infecting the participants.
The race, which annually involves 30 thousand people, had previously been postponed from April 20 to September 14. However, today the organizers have decided to cancel the marathon, replacing it with a virtual event where participants will individually run a 42-kilometer distance.
“As the crisis unfolded, it became clear that [the September 14th Marathon] was becoming less and less likely,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a press conference outside City Hall. Walsh called the Boston Marathon a symbol of the city’s resilience and recalled the terrorist attack that occurred during the 2013 Marathon.
Despite the fact that the Boston Marathon champion title is actually being challenged by several dozen professional runners, more than 30,000 amateurs also participate in the race, and the event itself is watched by more than 1 million people annually lining up at the running track, which runs from the city of Hopkinton in western Massachusetts to Boston Bay. The organizers are faced with the fact that it is impossible to hold such a mass event observing the rules of social distance, and it is obvious that the problem will not disappear even this fall.
The first Boston Marathon – the oldest annual marathon in the world – was held in 1897, when 15 people ran the marathon distance from Ashland to Boston, dedicating the race to the first Olympic Games, which were held in 1896.
In 1918, because of the First World War, the race was decided to be held as a relay race. In 2013, the marathon was stopped after terrorists detonated two bombs at the finish line. The explosion occurred after the winners had reached the finish line, but many marathon runners were still running.
According to Tom Grilk, head of the Boston Sports Association, the format of the marathon was adjusted in 2012 because of the heat, when the temperature of the asphalt on the track approached 32 degrees Celsius. In 2010, a powerful volcanic eruption in Iceland reduced the number of runners: many marathon runners from Europe were unable to fly to Boston due to flight cancellations.