BOSTON — The Boston Marathon on Friday was postponed for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic, abandoning the customary Patriots Day start in the hopes of preserving the uninterrupted 124-year tradition of the world's most prestigious long-distance run.
In delaying the marathon from April 20 to Sept. 14, the city avoids for now an event that draws more than 30,000 runners from around the world, packs them in buses and starting corrals and then sends them off on a 26.2-mile (42.
The Boston Marathon has never been
“We’ve shown before that whatever the challenge to our marathon and to our city, we are Boston Strong," Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference on Friday, when the city's signature event joined virtually every college or professional league worldwide in
The Boston Athletic Association had been silent on the fate of the race even as other high-profile sports events were scuttled. The Masters was postponed indefinitely on Friday; previously the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons, Major League Baseball halted spring training and put off opening day, and all NCAA championships were
“The B.A.A. understands the city’s decision that the Boston Marathon cannot be held on April 20, 2020,” race organizers said in a statement. “We offer our full support to take all reasonable efforts to postpone.”
The new date moves the race from the spring season to a crowded fall, with the Paris and Barcelona Marathons also postponing until after the summer over COVID-19 concerns; Rome's race was
But Walsh said postponing the race was preferable to
With the delay, the race moves from Patriots Day, the state holiday commemorating the first battles of the Revolutionary War, which took place in Massachusetts.
“It won’t look right on the calendar,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “But it’s the right thing to do.”
Walsh said there was no thought of excluding the tens of thousands of amateur runners who consider running Boston a bucket list achievement. The Tokyo Marathon went on as scheduled earlier this month with just over 200 elite runners but not the 38,000 recreational runners who had signed up; spectators at the Los Angeles Marathon were advised to practice social distancing.
“That’s not the Boston Marathon. We’re an inclusive marathon,” he said. “The Boston Marathon is for everyone.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Race organizers had said they worked with the WHO and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state officials. Baker has already declared a state of emergency.
Walsh discouraged runners — known as bandits — from taking to the course anyway on Patriots Day. The B.A.A. said its 10,000-runner 5K on marathon weekend will also be rescheduled.
“The B.A.A.’s mission of promoting health through sports, especially running, has guided our organization for more than a century," CEO Tom Grilk said. “We look forward to welcoming the world to Boston in September in celebration of the 124th Boston Marathon.”
Philip Marcelo and Mark Pratt in Boston contributed to this story. The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
William J. Kole And Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press