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London Marathon Cancels 2020 Race

The coronavirus continues to shape an uncertain future for races of all kinds.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the health and safety of people around the world, the virus also continues to wreak havoc on the racing calendar. What was once shaping up as a crowded fall marathon season will not go off as planned. The London Marathon is the latest to cancel, officials announced on Thursday.

After the 2020 Boston (April 20) and London (April 25) marathons were rescheduled to September 14 and October 4, respectively, runners were looking at the possibility of five World Marathon Majors races within eight weeks, however the domino of cancellations for the fall started when the Berlin Marathon announced its race (on October 24) would not go on, then the Boston Athletic Association announced in May that the September 14 race was canceled for the first time in 124 years.

On June 24, New York Road Runners followed that lead and announced that the 2020 New York City Marathon, which was supposed to take place on November 1, has also been scratched. It had been slated as the 50th anniversary celebration of the race.

“Canceling this year’s TCS New York City Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, but it was clearly the course we needed to follow from a health and safety perspective,” said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of New York Road Runners, in a written statement. “Marathon day and the many related events and activities during race week are part of the heart and soul of New York City and the global running community, and we look forward to coming together next year.”

The 26.2 miles through all five boroughs of New York is the largest marathon in the world—53,640 people finished it last year. It was canceled once before, in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy inflicted damage and devastation on the region. Officials said that 2020 participants will be sent details in July, but will be presented with options for refunds or deferring their entries until next year.

The Chicago Marathon issued a statement on July 13 that details for a virtual event to take the place of its planned October 11 are forthcoming and participants have the option to receive a refund or defer entry to 2021, 2022, or 2023. The marathon has been contested annually for 42 years.

“While we’d hoped once again to fill 26.2 miles of our streets this October, the health and safety of everyone participating in and supporting the event is our highest priority,” according to a written statement from the race organization. “In response to the ongoing public health concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, event organizers and the City of Chicago made the decision to cancel the 2020 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and all race weekend activities.”

The London Marathon then let participants know that the race on October 4 has been canceled for mass-participation entrants, but an elite-only race will take place on a closed looped course in St. James’s Park, featuring match-up between world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:39) and Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41). Brigid Kosgei, also world-recorder holder (2:14:04), highlights the women’s field.

The current status of the 2020 fall marathon schedule:

September 14
Boston Marathon: Canceled
Refund policy information available on the race website

September 27
Berlin Marathon: Canceled
Refund and deferral policy information available on the race website

October 4
London Marathon: Canceled for mass-participation entrants
Refund policy available on the race website

October 11
Chicago Marathon: Canceled
Entry deferral policy available on race the race website

November 1
New York City Marathon: Canceled
Updates on entry refunds and deferral policy available on the race website