It’s now clear that major marathons are on pace to return this fall. Even though running does not involve close physical contact and is held outdoors, it’s been one of the last sports to resume full pre-pandemic activity. In Texas, the Woodlands Marathon (March 6) paved the way, followed by the very successful return of the Ascension Seton Austin Half Marathon on April 25.
Now, as the coronavirus threat has begun to ease, runners can look forward to a robust resumption of big fall races. According to Dawna Stone, the chief executive of Running U.S.A., “Running events should be able to resume safely.” The Boston Marathon, set for October 11, which requires qualifying times, has reduced its field by a third. What that means is that runners had to run seven minutes and 47 seconds faster than normal qualifying times for their age/gender group. So it’s going to be an unusually fast field.
Race organizers for the Boston Marathon have come up with a unique solution to lower the density of runners at the start. Gone are the usual corrals. Elite runners will have a specified starting time. But the roughly 20,000 age-group runners will be issued a time to load onto a bus at Boston Common. Wearing masks, they’ll then take the 45-minute ride to the start in Hopkinton. Since their bib chips will keep time, the specified times for the bus rides effectively serve as “wave” starts.
The 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon is scheduled for October 10 and preparations for the October 2021 race will align with Chicago’s re-opening framework. The event organizers are expecting a normal sized field, and state that they will share their safety protocols and guidelines beginning in early June and continue updating them throughout the fall.
The TCS New York City Marathon is on track for November 7. However, it remains unclear exactly what measures will need to be in place, largely because we don’t know what the pandemic will look like at that point.
New York, Boston and Chicago, are part of the “World Marathon Majors” series. Further crowding the fall schedule is the Los Angeles Marathon (presented by ASICS). Normally held in February, LA will run the same day as New York— November 7.
All of this is good news for runners and the running industry as both have been eager to embrace a full return of the sport. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that everything stays on track, and we get back to participating in the road races we love so much!
Upcoming Races: Saturday, May 22 at 7:30 a.m., Transforming Lives Four Miler at the Fellowship Church at Plum Creek 160 Grace St. in Kyle. Saturday, May 22 at 9:00 a.m., Get Your Rear in Gear 5K at Camp Mabry.