Boston Marathon canceled for the first time in 124-year history, will be held virtually

For the first time in the event’s 124-year history, the Boston Marathon has been canceled. Instead, organizers announced that there will be a “virtual event” for participants.

If participants can verify that they ran 26.2 miles on their own, they’ll receive a finisher’s medal much like they normally would. The race was originally scheduled for April 20 before being postponed to Sept. 14 prior to Thursday’s announcement.

“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for a historic 124th Boston Marathon,” Boston Athletic Association CEO Tom Grilk said.

CORRECTS SPELLING OF WINNER’S LAST NAME TO KEFLEZIGHI INSTEAD OF KEFLIZIGHI – Elite men runners leave the start line in the 118th running of the Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014, in Hopkinton, Mass. Fourth from left is eventual winner Meb Keflezighi. Third from left is Ryan Hall. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The Boston Marathon began in 1897, following the success of the marathon in the 1896 Summer Olympics. Since then, it’s become the world’s oldest annual marathon and is always one of the most important on the running calendar. The Boston Athletic Association has organized the Boston Marathon since 1897.

On an annual basis, an estimated 500,000 fans watch the race and help make it one of the area’s largest sporting events of the year. It has blossomed from 15 participants in 1897 to about 30,000 participants nowadays that take on the course that goes from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay.

Back in March, Mayor Marty Walsh pointed to the impact on Boston’s economy as one of the major reasons for postponing the Boston Marathon. An estimated $211 million is spent in the city around the time of the annual race.

Walsh also wanted to make sure that every qualified participant could run the Boston Marathon. The Tokyo Marathon was held in March, but only allowed 200 elite runners to participate rather than the 38,000 that signed up.

“That’s not the Boston Marathon. We’re an inclusive marathon,” Walsh said. “The Boston Marathon is for everyone.”

The Boston Marathon is scheduled to return in 2021 on April 19.

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