NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City Marathon was cancelled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, with organisers and city officials deciding that holding the race on November 1 would be too risky.
Organisers announced the cancellation of the 50th anniversary edition of the world’s largest marathon after coordinating with the mayor’s office and deciding the race posed too many health and safety concerns for runners, volunteers, spectators and others.
“While the marathon is an iconic and beloved event in our city, I applaud New York Road Runners for putting the health and safety of both spectators and runners first,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “We look forward to hosting the 50th running of the marathon in November of 2021.”
Last year’s marathon included a world record 53,640 finishers, with half marathon record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya winning her debut at the 26.2-mile distance. Geoffrey Kamworor won the men’s event for the second time in three years to complete the Kenyan sweep.
“Let’s not waste this moment. Let us become stronger athletes, stronger communities and stronger world citizens,” 2017 winner Shalane Flanagan wrote on Instagram.
“This I know, a setback is just a setup for a comeback. Please stay safe, visualise the streets of NYC in your training for 2021 and work hard when no one is looking, because it always pays off,” she wrote. “What’s the best way to cope with disappointment or grieve a lost goal?? I say, go for a run.”
Those who registered for the 2020 race will be offered a full refund of their entry fee or a guaranteed entry to either the 2021, 2022 or 2023 marathon. The 2021 New York City Marathon is scheduled for November 7.
“Cannot wait to compete in my next NYRR event, when it is safe to do so,” United States (US) marathoner Emily Sisson tweeted on Wednesday.
Runners registered for this year’s race and others will be invited to participate in a virtual 42.2km race from October 17-November 1. Further details will be released in July, the event’s organisers said.
The only other time the New York City Marathon was cancelled was in 2012, when Superstorm Sandy caused extensive damage and strained the city’s public safety resources. Officials decided just two days before the race to call it off, angering runners who had travelled to the city from around the world after assurances that the event would go on.
The September 27 Berlin Marathon was also cancelled on Wednesday, joining other major marathons to be scuttled because of the pandemic. Last month, the Boston Marathon was cancelled for the first time in its 124-year history, with a virtual race planned as a substitute.