The fallout of the global Coronavirus pandemic has begun to hit close to home for the running industry, with retailers dealing with customers concerned about being in public places and vendors struggling with supply chain disruptions and their own workforce challenges.
But perhaps the most ominous sign of change in the lifestyles of runners in America is the cancellation of two iconic races scheduled for this weekend.
And then came word that the Boston Marathon, would be pushed from April 20 to Sept. 14 in a bid to reduce risks associated with COVID-19.
But first came word that the extremely popular New York City Half Marathon had been cancelled. The race traditionally heads right through the heart of Manhattan and down Broadway, but with theaters closed for the remainder of the month cancelling the race was an easy call to make for the organizers
“Due to the rapidly developing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the NYC Half, scheduled for Sunday, March 15, and the accompanying Rising New York Road Runners youth event, have been canceled. We appreciate the support of New York City officials through this complicated decision-making process,” New York Road Runners (NYRR) wrote in a statement.
NYRR added: “We know this is a challenging time for everyone, and the cancellation of the NYC Half is disappointing news to many, but the resources necessary to organize an event with 25,000 runners on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan have become strained during this difficult period. Over the past week, the NYRR team worked hard to adjust plans, implementing modifications and accommodations to alleviate crowding and facilitate social distancing. Unfortunately, it has become clear that we will be unable to proceed in the manner that our runners have come to expect at NYRR events, where the safety and security of our runners, volunteers, staff, partners, and spectators are our main concern.”
Runners will be reportedly given a full refund or guaranteed non-complimentary entry to the 2021 NYC Half.
Also cancelled were the New Balance Indoor Nationals, which were scheduled at The Armory in New York from March 13-15.
“Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and out of concern for the safety of all athletes, coaches and families, we’ve decided it’s in the best interest of all parties to cancel the meet,” said NSAF and NBNI meet director Jim Spier, in a statement. “It’s the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make.”
As for the Boston Marathon, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced this morning that the marathon will take place on Monday, September 14. The decision was made after consultations with the Boston Athletic Association, the organizer of the race, as well as municipalities along the route.
"Our expectation — and 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," Walsh said in a news conference from City Hall.
More than 30,000 amateur and professional runners have signed up to run the 124th Boston Marathon.