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This Year's Boston Marathon, Rescheduled For October, Will Be Capped At 20,000 Runners

The deserted Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton on Patriots' Day in 2020. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The deserted Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton on Patriots' Day in 2020. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The iconic Boston Marathon was moved to the fall this year, and now will feature about two-thirds the number of runners it typically allows in the race.

Marathon organizers announced in a statement Monday that the runner field size for the race's 125th year will be capped at 20,000 participants.

The Boston Athletic Association said the goal of the new cap is to allow for social distancing between runners, especially at the race's start and finish lines.

Registration will begin on Tuesday, April 20 at 10 a.m. and remain open until Friday, April 23 at 5 p.m. Organizers noted that because the window to register is shorter this year, anyone with a qualifying time can register at any point in that period. In past years, the race's fastest qualifiers were allowed to register before slower runners. However, faster qualifying times will still be used to determine who is accepted into the race.

Boston Athletic Association President and CEO Tom Grilk said the marathon's exact safety protocols are still being worked out. However, he added that testing will be a key component.

"There will have to be some sort of a testing program to take every reasonable step to ensure that we don't have anybody going out to the starting line or working on the race who is positive for the COVID-19 virus," he told WBUR.

Grilk said it's unlikely the BAA will require runners to be fully vaccinated before the race.

The city and marathon leaders declared earlier this year the marathon would be moved to Monday, Oct. 11 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A virtual Boston Marathon will also be held the weekend before the official race, in which people can run the 26.2 miles somewhere other than the Hopkinton-to-Boston route. It will be open to the first 70,000 registrants, and registration opens on Tuesday, March 30 at 10 a.m.

With additional reporting from WBUR's Fausto Menard and Lisa Creamer

This article was originally published on March 15, 2021.

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Jonathan Cain Twitter Executive Producer, All Things Considered
Jonathan Cain is the executive producer for WBUR's All Things Considered and edits afternoon newscasts. He came to WBUR after working for 14 years as an Emmy Award-winning television news producer at NECN in Newton and WTVR in Richmond, Virginia.

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