Coro­n­avirus forces Chicago Marathon to be can­celed for just 2nd time in its his­tory

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY STE­FANO ESPOSITO, STAFF RE­PORTER ses­pos­ito@sun­times.com | @sle­spos­ito

The Chicago Marathon, which draws run­ners from across the globe and typ­i­cally al­most 2 mil­lion spec­ta­tors, has been can­celed be­cause of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

It’s only the sec­ond time in the event’s his­tory that it has been can­celed, or­ga­niz­ers said.

The chal­lenges of stag­ing a large-scale event at this time, as well as con­cerns for the safety of par­tic­i­pants, vol­un­teers, event staff and spec­ta­tors, all led to the de­ci­sion.

The marathon, now in its 43rd year, was to be held Sun­day, Oct. 11.

“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, all of whom come to­gether race week­end as one com­mu­nity here in our city,” Mayor Lori Light­foot said in a state­ment.

“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.”

Reg­is­tered run­ners will have the op­tion of a re­fund or to de­fer their place in the race and en­try fee to a fu­ture Chicago marathon — ei­ther in 2021, 2022 or 2023, or­ga­niz­ers said.

“Hope drives us as run­ners and as hu­mans. 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,” Carey Pinkowski, the event’s ex­ec­u­tive race di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment.

“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.”

The marathon also was can­celed in 1987 be­cause of a loss of spon­sors.

Run­ners across the city and be­yond were sad­dened by the news, but it was not, they said, un­ex­pected.

“The Chicago marathon is re­ally the pin­na­cle mo­ment in run­ning for Chicago, and it’s one of the great­est marathons in the en­tire world,” said Greg Hipp, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Chicago Area Run­ners As­so­ci­a­tion, which has about 11,000 mem­bers. “So it’s not just af­fect­ing our lo­cal run­ning com­mu­nity, it’s run­ners all over the world.”

Joe Sobus, founder of The War­riors Run­ners Group, said he un­der­stands the rea­son for the can­cel­la­tion.

“It’s im­por­tant to make sure ev­ery­one is safe,” said Sobus, whose group runs in about half a dozen city neigh­bor­hoods. “Even though peo­ple are sad­dened by it, it just gives peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to look for­ward to next year.”

ASHLEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES FILE

The Chicago Marathon has been can­celed for only the sec­ond time in its his­tory.

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