Boston Marathon canceled for first time in its history, will be held as 'virtual event'

Boston Marathon canceled for first time in its history, will be held as 'virtual event'
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The 124th Boston Marathon will now be held virtually following orders from Mayor Martin Walsh (D) to cancel the event due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The move is the first time in its 124-year history that the marathon has been canceled, although some events will be held to carry on the tradition of the annual marathon.

According to an announcement from the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) released Thursday, the virtual Boston Marathon "will be complemented" by several virtual events during the second week of September.

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"Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters," said Tom Grilk, chief executive of the BAA.

"While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for a historic 124th Boston Marathon," he added.

At Walsh's press conference Thursday, Grilk said "the spirit of the Boston Marathon is to be strong and to be smart," adding that "you need to have the strength, wisdom, and guidance from public officials to do what's right."

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Participants who were registered for the marathon on the initial April 20 date will be offered a full refund for entry fees and will have the option to participate in a "virtual alternative" for the 124th Boston Marathon, which can be run between Sept. 7 and Sept. 14.

The BAA will be offering several virtual events and activities throughout the second week of September, including exclusive panel discussions, champions interviews and a downloadable Boston Marathon toolkit, including several other entities for registrants.

Those who wish to run for the 2020 virtual marathon will be required to complete the 26.2-mile distance in six hours or fewer and submit proof of timing to the BAA.

Participants who complete the virtual race will receive an official Boston Marathon program, a t-shirt, a medal and a runner's bib.

In March, the marathon was delayed by several months due to concerns about the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The annual Boston Marathon serves as a positive symbol for Boston locals, thousands of visitors and traveling marathon runners from across the country and the world who come each year for the event.