Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no 2020 Boston Marathon in the physical sense.
The 124th edition of the iconic race scheduled to be held on September 14, 2020 will now be a virtual event, the organizers – Boston Athletic Association (BAA) – informed in a statement dated May 28, 2020, available on their website.
“ Information on how to enter the virtual Boston Marathon will be communicated to all Boston Marathon entrants in the coming weeks. All participants who were originally entered in the Boston Marathon for April 20, 2020 are eligible to participate in the virtual Boston Marathon. This includes entrants who had previously opted for a race refund prior to the May 28 announcement,’’ the FAQ section of the statement explained. However according to it, virtual race times that are submitted to confirm participation in the 124th virtual Boston Marathon in 2020 will not count towards qualification for the 2021 Boston Marathon.
Virtual offerings for participants during the marathon week – September 7-14 – will include exclusive panel discussions, champions’ interviews, and a downloadable Boston Marathon toolkit that includes signature race elements such as a printable finish line, winner’s breaktape, and more. Participants in the virtual 2020 Boston Marathon will be required to complete the 26.2 mile distance within a six hour time period and provide proof of timing to the BAA. All athletes who complete the virtual race will receive an official Boston Marathon program, participant t-shirt, medal, and runner’s bib. Rules and guidelines surrounding the virtual Boston Marathon will be communicated by email and via www.baa.org in the near future. Similarly, registration details, including fees for participation and /or shipping costs, will be communicated to all Boston Marathon entrants in the near future.
Away from the virtual event, the organizers have said that the BAA is reviewing all specifics involved in the registration procedure for the 2021 Boston Marathon, and additional details related to both the qualifying window and registration dates for the 2021 Boston Marathon will be announced and posted in the coming weeks. Registration for the 2021 Boston Marathon will open towards the end of September 2020. The beginning of the qualifying window to be used for application and entry into the 2021 Boston Marathon has been established to be September 15, 2018. This “ means that we will accept qualifying performances posted for the 2020 event into the 2021 race, as well,’’ the statement said
All participants who were originally registered for the April 20, 2020 event will be offered a full refund of their entry fee associated with the race and will have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative to the 124th Boston Marathon, which can be run any time between September 7 to 14. “ Virtual race times that are submitted to confirm participation in the 124th virtual Boston Marathon in 2020 will not count towards qualification for the 2021 Boston Marathon,’’ the statement said.
On the question of deferring participation, the statement said, “ we are unable to offer the option to defer entry to the 31,500 athletes who were expected to participate in the 124th Boston Marathon. The field size for the April 2021 race has not yet been set, and it will need to take into account guidelines and regulations for large scale events that have yet to be established.”
In recognition of this unique circumstance, all participants who were originally registered for the April 20, 2020 event will be offered a full refund of their entry fee associated with the race and will also have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative to the 124th Boston Marathon held in September. Entrants who were accepted into the 2020 Boston Marathon by way of a qualifying time may use their 2020 Boston Marathon qualifying time to apply for entry into the 2021 event, the statement said.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)