Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Marathon officials announced they would postpone the 2020 Boston Marathon until Sept. 14, proposing to have a complete weekend-long festival that would support runners, charities and local businesses all along the racecourse.
The move came on Friday, March 13, and was in response to the measures taken to curtail the spread of the COVID-19. It was also a measure that was seemingly out of the question just three weeks ago.
Last Friday, all had changed.
“We’re here today to announce the 2020 Boston Marathon will be postponed until Monday, Sept. 14, of this year,” said Mayor Martin Walsh on the portico outside City Hall. “Our expectation and our hope right now is this date will get us to a safer place in the spread of the Coronavirus. It’s a date the [Boston Athletic Association] can make work for its runners, and there’s been a lot of conversations about what date could work…Our priority right now is for the safety and the health of the runners and the fans, the medical personnel, residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and visitors from across the country and the world. We want to make sure we keep people safe.”
Mayor Walsh said they believe they can create a festival throughout the weekend, culminating in a new Marathon Monday holiday, Sept. 14. That effort is hoped to help businesses that are suffering through the measures taken to curb COVID-19, including the Marathon date change.
“The Marathon plays a major role for our local charities and our local economy,” he said. “Our plan is to make the weekend of September 14 a cornerstone campaign to help local businesses recover from this entire episode… You have the chance to run in an historic, once-in-a-lifetime race in September, and I hope all the runners and people will embrace it.”
Mayor Walsh said the regional economy could stand to lose $211 million if the race were canceled, while local charities could lose nearly $40 million through cancelation. That’s why it was decided a postponement would be idea.
“We hope the economic consequences are just pushed to September and not lost altogether,” said Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.
Gov. Charlie Baker said he would be filing a bill with the State Legislature to officially make Sept. 14 the temporary Marathon Monday event. He said there is wide support in the Legislature for the change, and leadership there was unanimous in their support of moving the date instead of canceling it.
“While it may be hard to believe I’ll be filing a bill to make September 14 this year’s Marathon Monday, I think it’s important to point out that after conversations with House and Senate leadership, there was an immediate desire that we preserve this very special day,” he said. “I know this is a change and it probably won’t look right on the calendar, but it’s certainly the right thing to do. We have seen before this Boston Marathon does define resilience, and I think everybody once we get there will feel the same way we always feel on Marathon Day.”
The effort also included input from other racecourse communities such as Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline.
There are a lot of questions from runners, and Boston Athletic Association CEO Tom Grilk said those would be answered in the coming weeks – things like whether or not runners need to re-register for the race.
“We’re here to support the decision of the City of Boston and the other seven cities and towns along the Marathon route and the Commonwealth to postpone the 2020 Marathon until Sept. 14,” he said. “We know that all these municipalities are doing this in support of all the constituencies served by the Marathon – runners, charities, volunteers, spectators and our local economy. The BAA will take every step possible to support this effort. We could not be more impressed by the immense amount of work by the City of Boston and the Commonwealth to not just cancel the Marathon, but instead take the less drastic step of postponing it even amidst a crisis of incredible proportions.”
Mayor Walsh and Gov. Baker said there were many discussions about the date, and Walsh said the new day jumped around “like a pinball.”
In August, it would have been too hot. Meanwhile, Labor Day weekend is also Student Move-in weekend in Boston and Newton, which ended that proposition. Columbus Day weekend in October also features college celebrations like Family Weekend. In the end, Sept. 14 proved to be the best option for everyone.
Mayor Walsh concluded by invoking the Boston Strong moniker – hearkening back to another citywide crisis with the Marathon Bombing.
“The Marathon is Boston…The Marathon connects us, it reflects us and it strengthens our community spirit and resiliency,” he said. “We’ve shown before no matter what the challenge is to our Marathon and our city, we are Boston Strong. That’s what we will be again this year in the face of this crisis. On Marathon Monday, we are going to continue to lead the country.”