Boston, London Marathons rescheduled due to coronavirus

Boston Marathon
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The Boston Marathon has been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14 due to the coronavirus. Three hours later, London Marathon organizers announced their race was moved from April 26 to Oct. 4.

“It’s an expectation and a hope right now is that this date will get us to a safer place in relation to the spread of the coronavirus,” Boston mayor Marty Walsh said, while discouraging anyone from trying to run the course on April 20. “It’s a date that the BAA [Boston Athletic Association] can make work for their runners.

“We want to make sure that we keep people safe.”

Walsh said there was no discussion of holding the Boston Marathon on the original date without spectators, but there were talks of possibly holding the race with a limited number of runners before the decision to instead postpone.

“That’s not the Boston Marathon,” he said. “We’re an inclusive marathon.”

It’s one of the most significant alterations to the world’s oldest annual marathon, which has been contested for 123 straight years. In 1918, the last year of World War I, the marathon was still held on Patriots’ Day but as a 10-man military relay race.

The original 2020 Boston elite fields included two-time U.S. Olympian Des Linden, the 2018 Boston winner who was fourth at the Feb. 29 Olympic Trials, where the top three earned Olympic spots. Linden has not announced whether she will remain in the field for the rescheduled Boston Marathon.

London is the world’s other major spring marathon. Its fields for the originally scheduled April race were headlined by the two fastest men in history — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

“The world is in an unprecedented situation grappling with a global pandemic of COVID-19, and public health is everyone’s priority,” London Marathon director Hugh Brasher said in a statement.

Many global half marathons and marathons have been canceled due to the coronavirus. On March 1, the Tokyo Marathon (a World Marathon Major like Boston and London) was restricted to elite runners without the usual mass-participation race.

The new Boston Marathon date is 13 days before the Berlin Marathon, another World Marathon Major. Sept. 14 will be treated as a local holiday like the usual April date, Walsh said.

“You have a chance to run an historic, once-in-a-lifetime race in September, and I hope that all the runners and people embrace it,” Walsh said. “We’ve shown before that no matter what the challenge is to our marathon and to our city, we are Boston strong. And that’s what we will be again this year in the face of this crisis.”

The fall major marathon schedule

Boston — Sept. 14
Berlin — Sept. 27
London — Oct. 4
Chicago — Oct. 11
New York City — Nov. 1

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results