(26-Jan) -- The Boston and Chicago Marathons, two of the three American events of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, are planned for back-to-back days in 2021, organizers confirmed. Boston, the world's oldest marathon which is normally held on the third Monday of April, is now slotted for Monday, October 11, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) reported today. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon was already scheduled for Sunday, October 10, its usual fall weekend. Never before have these two large and iconic marathons been held on consecutive days.
PHOTO: Lawrence Cherono of Kenya raises the winners trophy after his victory at the 2019 Boston Marathon (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"We announce the 2021 Boston Marathon date with a cautious optimism, understanding full well that we will continue to be guided by science and our continued collaborative work with local, city, state, and public health officials," explained Tom Grilk, president and CEO of the Boston Athletic Association, the owners and founders of the Boston Marathon. Through a press release he continued: "If we are able to hold an in-person race in October, the safety of participants, volunteers, spectators, and community members will be paramount."
Both the Boston and Chicago Marathons were not held as in-person events in 2020 due to the pandemic, although both offered remote --or virtual-- participation. When they were last held in 2019, Boston recorded 30,349 finishers and Chicago 45,962. They are, respectively, the third and second largest marathons in the United States after the TCS New York City Marathon which recorded a world record 53,627 finishers in 2019. That event was also cancelled in 2020, although a virtual race did take place.
The 2020 Boston Marathon was originally postponed to Monday, September 14, after governor Charlie Baker announced that the state legislature would create a new holiday called Marathon Monday. But as the pandemic wore on, both government officials and race organizers did not see a safe path to staging the race, and it was cancelled. Governor Baker, a Republican, was upbeat in his assessment today.
"Massachusetts continues to fight COVID-19 and distribute vaccines across the Commonwealth, and with brighter days ahead we are looking forward to getting back to a new normal in 2021," Baker said through a statement. "We will continue to work with local partners and the B.A.A. to monitor the situation and remain hopeful that the 125th Boston Marathon can take place this October."
Boston mayor Marty Walsh, an unabashed marathon booster, is not likely to preside over this year's race, should it be held. Walsh, a Democrat, was drafted by the Biden Administration as the new Labor Secretary. His selection still has to be approved by Congress, however.
"While it was of course the right thing to do, canceling the 2020 Boston Marathon for the first time in its 124-year history was one of the hardest announcements to make," Walsh said through a statement. "Today, I'm filled with hope, as we set our sights on October for the running of the 125th Boston Marathon. We have a ways to go before we're out of the woods, but guided by sound judgement and the advice of our public health experts, I am hopeful that we'll get to enjoy the return of one of Boston's most storied traditions this fall."
After today's announcement the fall marathon line-up for the Abbott World Marathon Majors is as follows:
September 26, BMW Berlin Marathon
October 3, Virgin Money London Marathon
October 10, Bank of America Chicago Marathon
October 11, Boston Marathon
October 17, Tokyo Marathon
November 7, TCS New York City Marathon
All of these dates should be considered tentative depending on the trajectory of the pandemic and rates of vaccination. In Massachusetts, road races are not allowed until Phase IV of the state's reopening plan. The state is currently in Phase III, Step One.