The Chicago Marathon has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the London Marathon as the only possible remaining race this year of the ‘World Major Marathons’.
Due to be held on October 11, it was announced on Monday night that the Chicago event of 45,000 runners would not be staged “out of concern for the safety of event participants, volunteers, event staff and spectators”.
It follows Berlin (originally scheduled for September 27), Boston (April 20, then September 14) and New York City (November 1) in being cancelled.
The only ‘Major Marathon’ to have taken place during 2020 was in Tokyo, in March, although that was only with elite runners and there was no mass event.
The London Marathon, which was initially scheduled for April, has already been pushed back to a possible October 4 date but there remains considerable doubt over whether it will take place, especially in its usual form.
Entrants for this year’s postponed race are expected to hear on July 28 whether it will go ahead on its rearranged date and organisers are actively exploring a number of possible scenarios and adaptations.
Despite clinging to the “hope” of staging this year’s race, organisers are aware that it may even be impossible to stage the 2021 event in its usual April slot and October has been pencilled in as a potential back-up. Staging the 2021 edition over two days is also among the options.
“This is a world where the situation changes on a near daily basis and we continue to work on the logistics... and come up with innovative ideas to socially distance the event for Sunday 4 October 2020,” said Hugh Brasher, the event director.
“The only date we currently have approved for 2021 is 25 April. However, like many other event organisers, we are exploring all options for 2021 with our stakeholders.”
It is only the second time that the Chicago Marathon has been cancelled and organisers are developing plans for a virtual race experience. The first Chicago Marathon was held in 1977 and the only other cancellation was in 1987, due to the loss of a sponsor. Almost two million spectators annually line the route in Chicago for the race.