Boston Marathon canceled for first time in race's 124-year history

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The Boston Marathon was canceled Thursday for the first time in the event’s 124-year history as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the sports world.

The marathon had survived two world wars and a separate pandemic before organizers decided to switch to a virtual format for the 2020 race. Participants are going to need to verify they ran 26.2 miles on their own and will receive a medal for their accomplishment.

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“It became clear as this crisis developed that Sept. 14 was less and less plausible,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.

“This is a challenge, but meeting tough challenges is what the Boston Marathon is all about. It’s a symbol of our city’s and our commonwealth’s resilience. So it’s incumbent upon all of us to dig deep, like a marathon runner, like we did in 2013, and keep that spirit alive.”

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The race usually draws more than 30,000 competitors.

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“There’s no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity,” Walsh said. “While our goal and our hope was to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on Sept. 14 or any time this year.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.