Chicago Marathon canceled over coronavirus concerns

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — The 43rd annual Chicago Marathon has been canceled due to public health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced Monday.

“It was something we decided for the health and well-being of our participants,”  Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said. 

With the race originally scheduled for October 11, Pinkowski said it was too complicated to postpone it because of scheduling, international travel and weather concerns.

Anyone who signed up for the marathon will be reimbursed, or can defer their entry fee and spot in the race until 2021, ‘22, or ‘23.

This year’s marathon is just the latest large-scale event to be wiped off the calendar. What makes it so exciting  — thousands of runners, and more than a million fans lining the streets – is exactly what makes it dangerous in a pandemic.

It’s a disappointing day for many, but after so many major events from Lollapalooza to the Taste of Chicago have been cancelled it was also expected.  

Fleet Feet in Old Town is a hub for the running community in which 1,500 runners train for the marathon. Owner Jeff Williams says the news of the marathon being canceled for only the second time in its 43-year history is disappointing for everyone involved.

“It’s not really a surprise, we knew it was coming but it is devastating,” Williams said. “It’s the biggest day of the year for a lot of our community, not only a chance for them to meet their goals, but the thrill of the crowd.”

Last year had a record 45,000 participants, including 19,000 from outside of the United States, and the race more generally attracts nearly two million people from around the world to Chicago each year.

Pinkowski has served as executive race director of the marathon since 1990. 

“I’ve been at this a long time. It’s been a challenging time for everybody in all walks of life and I’m very confident that in 2021, we’ll be back bigger and better than ever,” Pinkowski said.

Many runners say the stress of the pandemic was relieved by training, and they’re saddened that the race has been cancelled.

At Fleet Feet, they’re selling shirts that say “running isn’t cancelled.” The store’s owner says some athletes may try to run a marathon on their own in a socially distanced way. 

“It’s not unexpected, but the marathon people are the best in the business, but it’s the responsible thing to do,” Fleet Feet’s Dave Zimmer said.

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