NYC Marathon canceled due to Covid-19

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The 2020 New York City Marathon, originally scheduled for November 1 and the largest event of its type in the world, has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, marking the latest casualty in distance running due to the public health crisis.

The New York City Road Runners, organizers of the event, made the move after consultation with public health officials and city government leaders.

“Canceling this year’s TCS New York City Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, but it was clearly the course we needed to follow from a health and safety perspective,” said Michael Capiraso, New York Road Runners president and chief executive. “Marathon Day and the many related events and activities during race week are part of the heart and soul of New York City and the global running community, and we look forward to coming together next year.”

Bill de Blasio, New York City mayor, cheered the decision.

“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,” he said. “We look forward to hosting the 50th running of the marathon in November of 2021.”

Runners that had registered for the 2020 race will have options of either receiving refunds or deferring their entry to 2021, 2022, or 2023. The New York Road Runners carries cancellation insurance, which will aid against the financial blow of not staging its signature event this year.

The 2019 New York Marathon attracted an event-record 53,640 finishers, and the route stretching through each of the city’s five boroughs typically attracts about one million spectators, heightening the public health risk that would have come from staging this year’s event. The nature of the course also makes it impossible for runners to compete in a socially distanced manner.

The cancellation follows a similar decision for the Boston Marathon. The London and Chicago marathons are technically still on for this fall, but organizers for each of those events have not been able to definitively say whether the races will happen. 

The Berlin Marathon, another of the world’s six elite long-distance races, canceled just hours after New York’s decision after not being able to find any workable date in 2020 that would comply with German containment regulations.

This is the second time in the last decade the New York Marathon has not been held. The 2012 race was also canceled due to extensive damage in the city following Hurricane Sandy.