(03-Feb) -- Organizers of the 15th edition of the RAK Half-Marathon --scheduled for Friday, February 19, in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates-- announced this morning that the race had been cancelled due to the pandemic and will not be held again until 2022.
PHOTO: Ababel Yeshaneh setting the World Athletics half-marathon record of 1:04:31 at the 2020 RAK Half-Marathon (photo courtesy of the RAK Half-Marathon
"This is a necessary measure to protect the well-being of our participants, spectators and staff in light of the ever-evolving situation," organizers said through a statement. "All registered participants will receive a refund, as per the cancellation policy and, as gesture of gratitude and a thank you for ongoing support, all UAE registered runners will receive their race pack and race medal."
Organizers had recruited a superb field of world record holders and international medalists, including Kenyans Geoffrey Kamworor, Kibiwott Kandie, Brigid Kosgei, and Hellen Obiri; Ethiopians Ababel Yeshaneh, Shura Kitata and Jemal Yimer; and Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo. At the 2020 edition of the race Yeshaneh set a new World Athletics world record of 1:04:31.
"This was shaping up to be a race for the ages," tweeted journalist Jonathan Gault of LetsRun.com. "What a bummer."
Opportunities for elite road runners have all but vanished due to the pandemic as large gatherings are prohibited in most parts of the world. Smaller "micro races" and those held in secure "bio bubbles" are few and far between and can only accommodate a limited number of athletes. Today's cancellation comes as a huge blow for top athletes.
"Sadly, it's looking like my half-marathon is going to be cancelled," said British Olympian Eilish McColgan in a text message to Race Results Weekly yesterday. "Put so much work into it for the last four months so really want to try to find some other race."
There are only a handful of elite road races remaining on the proprietary Race Results Weekly events calendar for the first quarter (outside of New Zealand where the virus has been all but eliminated). The Pensacola Double Bridge Run (Florida, 06-Feb), Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon (Japan, 28-Feb), Atlanta Half-Marathon (Georgia, 28-Feb), Ashland City Half-Marathon (Tennessee, 06-Mar), The Woodlands Marathon (Texas, 06-Mar), Nagoya International Women's Marathon (Japan, 14-Mar), Olympic Qualifying Marathon Belp (Switzerland, 14-Mar), and McKirdy Micro Marathon (South Carolina, 21-Mar) are all still a "go."
"The Show Must Go On!" says a statement on the Pensacola Double Bridge Run website. "Run will go on as scheduled on February 6. Although the race will have a very different look, it will have the same great features, and more."
All three of the first-half races of the Abbott World Marathon Majors --Boston Marathon, Virgin Money London Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon-- have been postponed to the fall. Recent cancellations and postponements include the New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon (21-Mar/cancelled), Wokingham Half-Marathon (21-Feb/postponed to September), and Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon (18-Apr/cancelled). Cancellations and postponements are ongoing.