City, Coronavirus, News

Runners stay hopeful after another Boston Marathon postponement

The 125th Boston Marathon is postponed until fall of 2021 at the earliest, after 2020’s in-person race was also postponed then canceled for the first time in its history.

The 125th Boston Marathon has been postponed until the fall of 2021 due to COVID-19. SOPHIE PARK/ DFP FILE

The race usually takes place on Patriots Day in April, and the Boston Athletic Association announced the parallel postponement Wednesday.

Four-time Boston Marathon finisher Seth Wolfman, a member of the Brighton Bangers Running Club, said the postponement was a reasonable decision. 

“It makes sense because it’s just unlikely to be a safe event, even by some miracle that it’s completely changed,” Wolfman said.

The BAA will consult its COVID-19 Medical and Event Operations Advisory Group, as well as local and state governments, to determine the safest time to hold a race next year.

Matti Groll, a member of Tracksmith’s Hare A.C. running club, said he appreciates the BAA’s transparent communication about the event.

“They’re trying to give the information out as quickly as possible, and they’re actually listening to their COVID team,” Groll said. “It’s definitely the right call.”

Jennifer Teig von Hoffman, coaching coordinator for the Boston Bulldogs Running Club, said she has mixed feelings about the postponement

“In a way, I’m disappointed,” Teig von Hoffman said. “But I’m also relieved because I didn’t think it was going to be safe by April to have a road race at the scale of Boston.”

The 2020 Boston Marathon was held virtually in September, during which participants ran the 26.2-mile distance on their own and reported their time to the BAA.

Teig von Hoffman ran the virtual Boston Marathon. While she was disappointed by the announcement at first, she said she was still excited to run because this was her first marathon.

“It was really cool that even though we needed to do it in a different way, there was a way in which it felt like the whole city was just out there for us,” Teig von Hoffman said. 

While she was running the race alongside a group of close friends, she said, spectators around the city came out to cheer runners on.

Running clubs across Boston found themselves canceling group runs due to the pandemic. They were unable to meet in large groups without enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing.

Like many other groups in the Greater Boston area, Brighton Bangers and Hare A.C. have canceled all in-person group runs. 

Instead, clubs are now encouraging solo running.

Wolfman said wearing a mask and practicing social distancing have become a part of his usual running routine. He has also found new ways to distance himself from crowds when exercising.

“It’s gone from maybe 10-percent trail running to almost 100-percent trail running,” Wolfman said. “When you’re on the trails, it’s easier to avoid people.”

Putting his mask on and taking it off depending on his proximity to other people can make running more stressful, Groll said.

“Running for me used to be a relaxing thing and a way to just step away from work and destress,” Groll said. “Since the pandemic, because there are inevitably people everywhere, it becomes a game of avoiding people.”

Groll said he planned to participate in his first Boston Marathon in 2020, but could not because of the pandemic.

Despite news of the 2021 postponement and announcements of numerous other races staying virtual this year, Groll said the running community is staying positive.

“Runners in Boston are incredibly resilient,” Groll said. “We have a really good community here so that the people that want to race and want to train definitely still are.”

The Boston Bulldogs Running Club has restarted some group runs in accordance with state guidelines and is now participating in virtual races to raise money for local charities, Teig von Hoffman said.

Wolfman said he is hopeful the BAA can host the Marathon in 2021.

“The Boston Marathon’s definitely a part of the fabric of the entire community, not just runners,” Wolfman said. “It’s a loss for everyone, and I hope it comes back.”

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