Oct 29, 2020 - Sports

The pandemic's toll on road racing

A view of the Boston Marathon starting line on April 20, 2020 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

COVID-19 has taken a toll road racing, with the number of finishers in timed races dropping nearly 95% year-over-year between mid-March and mid-October, per the Wall Street Journal.

The state of play: Of the six designated World Marathon Majors scheduled for 2020, four (Boston, NYC, Chicago, Berlin) were canceled and two (Tokyo and London) were radically scaled back.

Looking ahead: The 2021 Boston Marathon, which is typically held in April, is postponed until at least next fall, the Boston Athletic Association announced Wednesday.

Between the lines: When they return, "races are not going to be the way they were," Todd Henderlong, the owner of an Indiana race series that has been offering in-person events since May, told the New York Times.

  • To avoid crowded starting lines, participants could take off in heats at pre-assigned times, and thus spend most of the race running solo.
  • Water stations are health risks, so races will likely require runners to bring their own water, sports drinks and snacks.
  • Participants at a half marathon in Arizona next month will receive a neck gaiter in their race packets and must wear it or another facial covering at the race start, and when passing runners.
Go deeper