As the running community searches for solutions to salvage their iconic events in 2020 in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, from postponements to virtual competitions, here’s another, more nuanced idea for the Boston Marathon 2020.
After suggesting a medical-teams relay as an alternative to the standard 27,000-strong Boston Marathon field, a format that would both hail our frontline healthcare practitioners, and mirror the military-teams relay staged in 1918 during World War I to salute the U.S. expeditionary forces, the thought of an Elite-only race to limit the number of runners was also proposed. That was the solution the 38,000-strong Tokyo Marathon went with March 1st.
But based on the current trajectory of the Covid-19 disease, mid-September might still be too soon to start flying people across oceans and continents safely without adequate testing procedures in place. So another alternative solution would be to limit the 2020 Boston Marathon to American-only elites.
All those American athletes who ran in the Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta in February? Well, here would be a second chance at glory in 2020, though of a different kind. And as with the idea of a medical-teams relay, the American—only Elite format would also tie directly into Boston’s history.
According to the Boston Athletic Association’s History of the Boston Marathon, “Monday, April 19, 1897: the Boston Marathon was originally called the American Marathon and was the final event of the B.A.A. Games.”
So despite Chicago having changed its name from the Mayor Daley Marathon to America’s Marathon/Chicago between 1982 and 1987, it’s Boston that has the original American-named connection.
Therefore, if a medical-teams relay would salute today’s frontline healthcare professionals and tie in to the military-teams relay staged in 1918, then an American-only elite Boston in 2020 would similarly touch back to the event’s historic roots while minimizing the impact of large numbers gathering during the current medical crisis.
Acknowledging that no alternative would be perfect, let’s keep thinking. Stay safe Stay well.