Chicago 4th world marathon major to be axed

LOS ANGELES • The Chicago Marathon became the latest major marathon to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic on Monday as organisers confirmed cancellation of the race for only the second time in its history.

The decision had been largely expected, with several other major marathons around the world already suffering the same fate because of the outbreak.

The 43rd edition of the race was due to take place on Oct 11, with an estimated field of around 45,000 runners and wheelchair athletes, but was axed for the first time since 1987. Back then, it was not held owing to a loss of sponsorship.

“The Chicago Marathon is our city’s beloved annual celebration of more than 45,000 runners, as well as tens of thousands of volunteers, spectators and city residents,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

“Like all Chicagoans, I’m personally disappointed this year’s event won’t take place as originally planned; however, we look forward to welcoming all runners and their cheering squads once again when the Chicago Marathon returns to our city in full force for another very exciting race.”

Race director Carey Pinkowski said the decision had been taken with the safety of participants and volunteers in mind.

“We understand the disappointment, but when we return to the streets of Chicago, it will be a celebratory moment and an uncompromising statement about the collective spirit of who we are as a running community,” he added. “We are powerful, we are persistent, and we will reach the finish line again.”

Chicago is one of the world’s six World Marathon Majors along with races in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin and New York.

Tokyo went ahead in March at the outset of the pandemic, with only about 200 elite and wheelchair athletes taking part.

Boston was due to take place in April, but was then rescheduled for September before eventually being cancelled altogether in May.

Both Berlin and New York were also axed last month, leaving London – which was moved from April 26 to Oct 4 – as the last WMM race standing.

That event, however, is in serious doubt, with The Telegraph reporting that organisers fear “not only will this year’s edition be cancelled altogether, but that it may also be impossible to stage next year’s event in its usual slot”.

Hugh Brasher, race director of the London Marathon, also told the newspaper that he and his team are “exploring all options for 2021 with our stakeholders”. An official announcement is expected on July 28.

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