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The 2021 New York City Marathon Is On for 33,000 Runners

With COVID-19 safety measures in place, it marks another step back to big running events.

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The 2021 New York City Marathon will host 33,000 in-person runners on November 7, officials at New York Road Runners announced on Monday. It’s a positive step after the 2020 event was canceled amid the pandemic, but still a scaled-down version of what is typically the largest marathon in the world with 55,000 participants.

The smaller field is consistent with how many other races are returning to in-person events while taking COVID-19 precautions.

“This will be an unprecedented and historic year for the [marathon] as one of the most iconic New York sporting events makes it return,” said Ted Metellus, the new director of the race, in a written statement. “As we stage a safe and memorable race for the 50th running, this year’s marathon will showcase our great city’s strength, inspiration, and determination.”

The 33,000 entries amount to a nearly 40 percent reduction in runners. When the 2020 cancellation was announced, marathoners who were registered and did not select a refund were given the option to race in 2021, 2022, or 2023; 54 percent of the more than 30,000 already registered chose 2021. The remaining entries are expected to go to those who enter through  charities and international tour operators, as well as 9+1 program participants, Virtual New York City Marathon finishers, and runners who have completed 15 or more New York City Marathons.

In addition to fewer runners, the 2021 race will also include safety measures, including requiring entrants to produce a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination.  This aligns with protocols at other marathons this year, including the Boston Marathon, which has been rescheduled from its usual date in April to October 11 with a field of 20,000 runners, down from 30,000.

The New York City Marathon won’t hold its usual lottery for entry, but registration for those with guaranteed entry is planned for June 8–15.

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