Saturday, May 30, 2020

Boston Marathon: Canceled!

Earlier this week, the B.A.A. announced that it would cancel the marathon and instead have a virtual race. This did not come as a surprise to most people, myself included, as no large sporting events have returned yet. The cancelation did not affect me in the sense that I wasn't planning to run in September, but it did upset me.

Boston Marathon Expo 2018
Initially I believed that all of the cancelations and postponements were an over-reaction. We knew very little about the virus, so why would we close all the businesses, the schools, and the entertainment venues for something that might not even be a real threat? But then I started to understand as the "flatten the curve" articles came out. We simply couldn't overwhelm our healthcare system and we needed time to get more ventilators, PPE, tests, and more. Everything was uncertain so it was better to be safe than sorry and I was on board with that.

The lockdown was not supposed to be a long-term solution. The goal was to "flatten the curve" but once it was flattened everything was still closed and canceled. And now we find ourselves in a situation where we don't have an endgame. We might not get a vaccine, and even if we do, it might not be completely effective. We might not find a treatment. Coronavirus could be here forever with no cure or vaccine. So, we need to find a way to live with it, one in which individuals can choose the amount of risk they are comfortable with.

For my age group, the chance of dying from COVID-19 is about the same as dying from a car accident. I'm totally scared of car accidents, but I still drive. I make sure to do so safely. I'm also scared of the flu, but I'm pretty good about not touching things and washing my hands. Higher-risk individuals might choose to stay home and not attend public events or social gatherings. But that needs to be their choice. Source: Coronavirus: How Scared Should We Be.

Studies also show that the virus does not spread as easily outdoors, which is why restaurants in Virginia can now be open for outdoor seating but not indoor seating. Outdoor public spaces are also now open.

While I understand that we needed to flatten the curve initially, the time has now come for individuals to be responsible for their own health. If we don't start changing our thinking on this, we may never have races, sporting events, concerts, or conferences ever again.

Hopefully you made it this far and are still reading. I understand that COVID is a controversial topic and my beliefs may offend or annoy my readers. That's the risk I take with self expression.

April 20, 2020
Back to Boston, specifically. The B.A.A. is offering a virtual race in which you can earn your shirt and medal and submit results online and the race must be run between September 7-14. I probably will register for this so that I get my shirt and medal for the 26.2 miles I ran on April 20. I have reached out to them to ask if they would include virtual times from the weekend of April 20 in the results, as I know quite a few runners opted to run that weekend. I don't think it's safe for me to run 26.2 miles in the summer, no matter how slow. I have a history of getting mono (3 times now) in the summer, triggered by pushing myself too hard in the heat. Hopefully they will expand their timeframe to include the original Boston Marathon weekend in their virtual dates.

This is an example of a race being held that I do not think is safe for me to participate in, so I opt out.

Boston 2020 registrants will not be deferred 2021. They will have to apply again, only now they are competing against a larger pool of athletes, those who qualified between September 2019-March 2020. This means that the cut-off time will likely be steeper, and many runners who were registered for 2020 will not have the opportunity to run in 2021. Do I agree with this decision? Partially. If all runners were deferred then there would be no room for those who qualified in the fall of 2019 or the early spring of 2020.

 If I were running the show (and I'm not) here are the rules I would put in play:

  • Only registered runners from 2020 may apply to the 2021 race with a BQ time from September 2018-September 2019. 
  • If you were registered for the 2020 race, and you submit a BQ time between September 2018-September 2019, your BQ standard is based on your age on April 20, 2020. This would prevent 2020 registrants from gaining a larger buffer by aging up, which would be unfair to the 2021 qualifiers, and the rest of the 2020 qualifiers. You qualified originally based on your 4/20/2020 age, so that should not change.
  • If you were registered for the 2020 race but did not make the 2021 cutoff, you should be offered first dibs on a charity entry. You would still have to raise the money, but you'd be guaranteed this opportunity before non-qualifiers. Charities would still get their funds, and 2020 runners would still get their spots. (This does not take into consideration 2020 charity runners, but we don't yet know how those are being handled).
So those are my thoughts! I am sure everyone has their own opinions and they will vary widely. There is no perfect solution. 

My biggest concern at this point is the future of races in general. We are not guaranteed a 2021 Boston or a 2022 Boston. As I said above, if we are waiting for a vaccine or a cure to start things up, we have to face the reality that it may never happen.

I'd love to see some smaller races (200 people or less) start back up now with staggered starts and outdoor packet pickup, and then progress from there. I had always assumed that our annual July 4th 5K would take place and I was really disappointed when it was canceled.

As for my summer plans, I am currently trying to see how fast I can run a single mile. I will write a blog on that soon, as well as a recap of my spring "racing" season. I have been running every day and I am on day 138 of a run streak, which started on January 14. Not having to commute into work has given me extra time to run in the mornings and it has been the silver lining of the lockdown. More to come soon!


  1. Yes, Boston cancelling was a bit of a stunner. Not a surprise, just a stunner. My local marathon did a huge email blast a few weeks ago that the race is a go for September so I'm very interested to see how they will pull that off. Non-contact sports and gyms just started back up in my area and it made me so happy to see kids on the baseball fields in my neighborhood park this weekend.

  2. I'll preface this by saying I love the Boston Marathon and other road races, and I'm a competitive ultramarathoner used to racing at least month. But giving up some of my leisure activities for another 1-2 years is a small price to pay for protecting the large number of Americans who are particularly vulnerable to this virus. They do not all live in bubbles they can seclude themselves in for years at a time; many living in multi-generational homes, with a partner who works full-time, or in assisted living facilities. Prohibiting mass gatherings isn't about protecting people like you and me, it's about protecting everyone else--hospital workers, those with health conditions, etc--from the consequences of a spike in infections. My desire to race a particular event is not more important than their health or their lives. I'm a physician myself and have friends who are still caring for COVID patients. The flu is not a fair comparison--this virus has proven to be far more deadly. We should keep in mind that running has never been cancelled, and this is a great opportunity to reconnect with the pure joy of running itself and to build a strong base for future races. It may also be an opportunity for smaller events to thrive, as small, local events will pose far less risk than huge events drawing tens of thousands of participants from around the world. Even if huge events do not return for a few years, we will have a vast array of opportunities to test our fitness and experience the camaraderie of running in small groups. Our well-being and the economy will not collapse from a year or two of deferring massive gatherings as the rest of society re-opens.

    1. You may be right on large races but are forgetting about all the other non reported deaths and suicides that are skyrocketing due the lock downs so BALANCE is the key and looking at it thru a vacuum like COVID-19 is the only thing is the world is really misguided!! I think seeing the nation burn down right now is awful as well and I wonder how that causes the virus to spread!!

  3. This was sad news! I don't know what the correct solution is here. I feel terrible for all runners who were supposed to run Boston. And I agree that we can't just cancel everything until a vaccine is found (which could be years, or never.) I'm hoping we can get back to some smaller races soon- and I hope you get your shirt and medal!

  4. Speaking as a healthcare provider, COVID shouldn't be a controversial topic. It's a deadly, highly contagious virus. It's too bad that it's been politicized. While I'm sad about all the cancelations, it is a necessity until a vaccine becomes available.

  5. Hey Elizabeth, I tend to echo your feelings and I think many policies have been misguided, particularly all the cases of people who tested positive for COVID-10 at the hospital and were sent back to their assisted living facilities. In the states with the most deaths, about half came from those places and until early May, all these clowns were sending COVID-19 positive patients who didn't need emergency care back to their place of residence.

    As we learn more and more, the death rate isn't nearly as bad as we we're initially told. Of course now there is more test capacity than needed. good problem to have but still. Looking back at a lot of things, not overwhelming the hospitals was needed and NYC came eerily close of becoming Italy. At the same time, a Naval ship was sent there and it wasn't really needed.

    So what really happened? This virus is very bad for senior citizens and those with pre-existing conditions. What did we do?

    1.) Shut down the jobs particularly the low paying blue collar ones. Forget the mess of state unemployment systems too.

    2.) This virus barely harms children at all (statistics show seasonal flu harms children worse (not comparing COVID-19 to seasonal flu.) What do we do? Close all the schools!

    3.) We initially were told by the surgeon general and WHO that we shouldn't get masks and save them for the healthcare workers. Then a few days later (or so it felt) we're told we all have to wear a mask to go to the supermarket or go anywhere indoors. But a mask protects only protects others. They can miss me with that nonsense because if that were true, why did St. Barnabas hospital give a 73 yr old kidney transplant patient *who needs to be on anti rejection medication until his death) masks and tell him to wear them for HIS protection. As if no droplets come from a mask wearer who sneezes hard. I'm not against mask wearing!! They're just lying to you about it!

    4.) We heard about all this need to make ventilators... WE NEED MORE VENTILATORS said one loudmouth(meanwhile I've heard about 80-90% of people on them don't are sadly losing their lives.) Now they're being exported other places bc we have more than we need.

    5.)The latest round of stupidity from the CDC (Corrupt Disease Center) was, oh the virus doesn't really spread of surfaces, don't worry about it!

    I see the actions of people in the 2nd hardest hit state in the nation and we're tired of our liberties being taken away!! The healthcare system isn't being overrun. In fact hospitals are at risk for closing down permanently because they weren't allowed to perform any other tasks besides COVID-19 was absurd. How many people with cancer and couldn't get treatments that could have been saved won't now because of the psychopathic authoritarians that think they know what's best for us? How many? You'll never know but I have seen first hand in my own family how fast cancer can take over one's body and kill them. I know, I've seen what happens where an MRI looks good and 4 weeks later it's all over the place and, 3 weeks after that you're dead. Congratulations lock down lovers!! All because you're scared of a virus that has a mortality rate that's likely somewhere around 0.6% or less when you factor in the people who had it and didn't get tested or treated.

    As for the running, I can understand the need to not risk liability when you're talking Boston Marathon or any other super large race. You do not want the risk of being sued or being the cause of death of someone. I get it and hope by next spring races will come back. I don't expect anything in 2020. But lets celebrate 138, probably now 140 straight days of running for the blogger we love, Elizabeth Clor!! Keep going strong!

  6. I think the hesitancy to return to racing or other large gatherings is related to uncertainty about the future. If the race was today, it would likely be fine. But will we be in the middle of a second spike in September, trying once again to flatten the curve? It's possible. Until we understand the behavior of the disease more, it will be hard to plan races. And it's also hard to plan not knowing what your state or city's guidelines will be at that point in the future. I expect races to be cancelled through the fall and potentially the winter: I'm pretty confident now that COVID19 is a seasonal disease, and we are likely to see cases increase just when races were about to begin again. I do think we'll have vaccine available by the winter, but it will be rationed to those at high-risk. And it will probably not confer complete immunity, but will reduce severity of disease in case of infection (although it's a little early to know this for sure - we have so little data right now and so many vaccine candidates still in early phases). I am considering a winter marathon, but I also know it might not happen. At least we can always run - even if we can't race - and for that I'm grateful.

  7. Can I add??

    World Health Organization now says corona-virus doesn't spread well from asymptomatic cases. Like anyone believes these clowns?? HOW did an outbreak happen?? Everyone who was sick all just hung out with those not sick?? Ugh we got liars wanting to create problems so they can gain more power. That's what I think it's all about!!