Chicago Marathon is Third Major U.S. Marathon Cancelled Due to Coronavirus

2019 Chicago Marathon
Brigid Kosgei of Kenya breaks the world record to win the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in Chicago, Illinois on October 13, 2019. Quinn Harris/Getty

The Chicago Marathon was cancelled on Monday, becoming the latest major U.S. marathon to be called off as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spike throughout the country.

The marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on October 11, was cancelled after marathon organizers and city officials agreed that the event could pose a risk to public health. The decision follows the cancellation of the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon, the other two U.S. marathons included in the World Marathon Majors series.

"In response to the ongoing public health concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, event organizers and the City of Chicago announced the decision to cancel the 2020 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and all race weekend activities," the marathon's organizers wrote on the event's website on Monday.

"Hope drives us as runners and as humans," said Carey Pinkowski, executive race director of the marathon, in a statement obtained by Newsweek. "My hope was to see everyone on the start line on Sunday, October 11, but our highest priority has always been the safety of our participants and our volunteers."

Runners already registered for the marathon have been given a choice of having their entry fees refunded or deferred for entry into a marathon planned for 2021, 2022 or 2023.

Organizers said they are currently working on arranging "a virtual experience to recognize the dedication and commitment" of those who planned to participate in this year's marathon, with details expected in the coming weeks.

The organizers said the pandemic brought with it an "uncertain finish line" but vowed that the marathon's eventual return to a physical event would be a "celebratory moment."

"Like all Chicagoans, I'm personally disappointed that 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," added Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The Tokyo Marathon, which was completed in February, was the only one of six global races included in the World Marathon Majors series to have taken place in 2020, although it was modified to include elite athletes only.

The Berlin Marathon, slated to take place in late September, was cancelled last month. The London Marathon was postponed from April 26 to October 4 and is the only marathon remaining in the series that could still take place, although an update on its status is expected later this month.

The New York City Marathon, the world's largest marathon, was called off last month over concerns about the virus. The November 1 marathon would have celebrated the event's 50th anniversary. It is now expected to return on November 7, 2021.

The Boston Marathon was initially postponed from April 20 to September 14, but a virtual marathon in now scheduled to take place in lieu of a physical event. Runners scheduled to take part in the in-person marathon will now compete in a virtual race, running the 26.2-mile distance individually on any one day between September 7 and 14.

"Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters," Boston Athletic Association CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement. "While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon."