(16-Mar) -- An unprecedented wave of event cancellations due to the spreading coronavirus has rocked the running industry hitting recreational runners, elite athletes, event organizers, timing companies, photographers, and other stakeholders alike. This past weekend, nearly every event on the Race Results Weekly proprietary global event calendar was either canceled or postponed, except for the Bath Half-Marathon in England, the USA 50-Mile Trail Running Championships in California, the Santiago Half-Marathon in Chile, and a handful of events in Africa.
PHOTO: The splash page of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile which was forced to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic
"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 Jim Spier, the meet director of the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York City which was to take place last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Echoing what other event directors said in the past few days, Spier added: "It's the hardest decision we've ever had to make."
Twenty-four prominent events on the Race Results Weekly calendar were canceled or postponed over the weekend, but there were likely hundreds more because this publication only covers events which feature elite athletes. The cancellations and postponements occurred in 12 states plus another nine countries. The largest event to cancel was the United Airlines NYC Half which recorded a record 24,659 finishers last year.
"At New York Road Runners, the welfare of our running community is always our top priority," read a statement released by NYRR last Tuesday. "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 the New York City officials through this complicated decision-making process."
This weekend's cancellations and postponements were only tip of the iceberg, Race Results Weekly has learned. There are no events to be contested next weekend, or the weekend after that, globally. Nearly all of them are canceled, although a handful have been postponed. Many of the postponed events have yet to find a new date, and at least some of those may never actually be held this year. Organizers of the popular Canadian Running Series wrote that their "executive team is meeting daily to review the latest information and will continue to take appropriate actions on an event-by-event basis, following the decisions made by these respective authorities and agencies." Their next two events, the Under Armour Spring Run Off (April 4) and Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal (April 26) have been postponed, but new dates have not been selected.
Some of the biggest events to cancel outright were the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K and Run Rome the Marathon (March 28/29); Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile, Generali Berliner Halbmarathon, and Vienna City Marathon (April 5); Old Mutual Two Oceans 56K Marathon (April 11); Mount SAC Relays, Kansas Relays, Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon, and Vancouver Sun Run 10-K (weekend ending April 19); Penn Relays, Get In Gear 10-K, and Gifu Seiryu Half-Marathon (weekend ending April 26). The Drake Relays, April 20 - 25, have yet to be canceled or postponed.
There is some good news, however, in that several top events have been able to postpone to a firm date. Here is a quick summary:
Medio Maratón Azkoitia-Azpeitia Memorial Diego García, 28-Mar --> 19-Sep Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10-K, 28-Mar --> 26-Sep Movistar Medio Maratón Villa de Madrid, 29-Mar --> 4-Oct Treviso Marathon, 29-Mar --> 20-Sep Cooper River Bridge Run 10-K, 4-Apr --> 1-Aug Carlsbad 5000, 5-Apr --> 20-Sep CSOB Bratislava City Marathon, 5-Apr --> 6-Sep Debno Marathon, 5-Apr --> 11-Oct Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, 5-Apr --> 18-Oct Vodafone Istanbul Half-Marathon, 5-Apr --> 20-Sep Brighton Marathon, 19-Apr --> 20-Sep Boston Marathon, 20-Apr --> 14-Sep Rock 'n' Roll Madrid Marathon, 25-Apr --> 15-Nov Virgin Money London Marathon, 26-Apr --> 4-Oct
One April event, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic 10-K in New Orleans which was scheduled for Saturday, April 11, converted to an all-virtual event. "This unique experience will give our runners the opportunity to run/jog/walk a 10k course of their choice, get their official CCC10k swag, and be a part of something that promotes fun, health, fitness and friendly competition," said a statement on their website. "In efforts to continue our standing tradition, our Top 500 men and Top 500 women will receive their iconic 2020 Crescent City Classic print. If you are already signed up, you will automatically be entered into our virtual race by March 13th at midnight."
Most May events, Race Results Weekly has learned, have not yet canceled or postponed. Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5-K is typical. They still plan to hold their race festival from May 1 - 3, but acknowledge that it could be canceled at any time.
"We know that you are frustrated - and that's understandable," reads a statement on their website. "All of you have been training for months, and now you're not confident that the event you've been working so hard for will happen. Trust us, we get it. We've been working for more than a year to bring you the best marathon ever, and the thought of it not happening is disappointing for all of us. We're all working tirelessly to make sure that whatever happens, you'll get the best experience we can make possible."