The Race That Never Was

Sydney Lauer, Journalist

The Covid pandemic originally hit in March, and many of us assumed it would be a short reprieve from our work and school. Now, as we head into our tenth month fighting this pandemic, we are struggling to discover new ways to connect and gather with each other. Because of the pandemic, many activities and events have been canceled, one being the Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is a popular event where runners from all around the world have a chance to compete against each other and form a united running community. It initially started 1897 and has never been canceled or postponed, until Covid.

The 2020 Boston Marathon, which was originally scheduled for April 20th, was initially postponed until September 14th with hopes that the virus would soon slow down. Unfortunately, as cases continued to rise, they were ultimately forced to cancel the marathon. Although the marathon was canceled, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) decided to run a virtual event from September 7th to the 14th for the participants who were originally supposed to run in the 2020 race. The virtual marathon contained panel discussions, interviews, and a downloadable Boston Marathon toolkit. Although the cancellation was mainly hard on the runners, it also affected the fans, New England community, and the local economy. I asked Olivia Santoro her thoughts on the 2020 marathon cancellation. She stated that she was “sad to hear that after so many years the marathon has been canceled. I had gone to see it one year and I remember it being so special to everyone, so to see it canceled is upsetting.” The marathon was an excellent way to bring the community together, and without it, we will expect to see a downfall.

The upcoming 2021 run is not looking very promising. With cases still rising, the BAA has decided to postpone the race until the fall of 2021, leading many people to believe it won’t occur at all. Although we are still seeing an increase in cases of the virus, a recently announced vaccine offers some hope that the marathon will take place. Many believe that the vaccine will be widely disbursed by the end of Spring, which means the marathon will be back on. When asking Sarah Lombard about the latest postponement she told me, “I think there is a possibility that they can run again this year, but there is no way of knowing until the vaccine is out and we know it is working.” The postponement has led to a lot of questions; hopefully, we will find some answers sooner rather than later.

The decision to postpone the marathon is very difficult and complicated as it affects many things rather than just if a race will be run. The BAA is currently worried about fundraising for the race as last year they saw a huge decrease in donations. Many people are also worried if people will stop competing. I asked Sarah Lombard what she thinks the turnout will look like when the marathon opens back up and she responded hopefully, saying, “I think more people may come to run the marathon when it fully reopens because they have been training for years and they will finally be able to race. I think there will be a huge audience as the City of Boston is reopened and everyone is able to go back to normal.” 

The cancellation and postponements of the Boston Marathon lead to many new questions and concerns about the Boston Community and new ways we can bring all these runners back together. The race has made it through a lot, and many believe, and hope, we will see it return in the near future.

Photo by Maddie Meyer