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The 124th Boston Marathon Was Cancelled. What Does That Mean for Boston College Athletics?

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The 124th running of the Boston Marathon was cancelled Thursday after race officials, in consultation, with the Mayor’s office, determined it was unsafe to run the race in September after the race, originally scheduled for Patriot’s Day in April, was moved back in the wake of COVID-19.

The Boston Athletic Association noted that the festivities will be moved online. Details about the online festivities can be found here. Here are some questions that all of you might have about the cancellation.

Will the race be rescheduled?

It appears not. Race organizers pushed back the race in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak once to September because that was believed to be safe, and the next viable date would have been around the time the 2021 race is scheduled to be run. Runners will be receiving a full refund and will have the opportunity to complete the race virtually by submitting a sub six hour running time to receive a bib, medal and t-shirt.

What effect will this have on Boston College?

BC has historically had a number of runners, both current students and alumni, running the race, including a number that run to raise money for charity. As many around the site know, the Marathon is a huge tradition for both runners and students, and this news is obviously a blow for those who were looking forward to the running of the race. Training for a marathon only to have it disrupted in this way because of the pandemic is obviously a huge blow, and our hearts go out to all the runners, especially those affiliated with BC, who have to deal with this news.

Yeah, but what about athletics?

Well, it’s unclear, and to answer that question would be highly speculative. The B.A.A. appeared to cancel the race of their own volition (though this fact is somewhat muddled, since the Boston Marathon’s twitter account said it was a decision made by Mayor Walsh as a mass participation road running event), meaning that it appears that the cancellation was not via a Mayoral order that would affect BC Athletics. There is also a scaling problem for the marathon that a BC athletic event simply does not have. The race draws in 30,000 runners from all over the world, and draws in hundreds of thousands of spectators as well who would be hard to control via social-distancing measures. BC athletic events, even with spectators, simply do not have the same level of scaling to reckon with, and it would be very premature to associate this cancellation with any BC sporting event.

With that said, if this is a bellweather, it’s an ominous one. The decision shows that public health officials have concerns about holding major gatherings that extends into mid- September, and while the marathon and, say, a Boston College football game, are two very different things in regards to scaling as we mentioned, the BC football game is not an event without risk, particularly with fans in attendance.

In any event, it’s certainly not unreasonable to say, particularly with fan social-distancing models being openly talked about throughout college football, that the tide may be shifting towards BC sports being affected, at least to a degree, by the virus.

With that said, this is all speculative, and no one knows anything for sure about this virus.