OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As the country continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19, officials say local runners will have to participate in a different way this year in one of the world’s most well-known races.
For the past several months, major events across the country have announced different plans for the 2020 season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Officials with the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon have been forced to cancel the traditional race. However, they soon announced that participants could take part in a virtual experience.
On Wednesday, organizers announced that the traditional Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is moving to a virtual race.
“While we would all prefer to have 25,000 people at the start line in front of the Memorial Museum on October 4th, it just isn’t possible at this time in Oklahoma City. After considering feedback from runners, the health of Oklahoma communities and advice from medical professionals, a virtual race is the best solution for the 2020 Run to Remember,” said Kari Watkins, Race Director, Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. “The disappointment of not running the Memorial Marathon together is being felt by all of us. But the health and safety of everyone participating – runners, volunteers, and the community support – must be our highest priority.”
All participants currently registered for the 2020 Marathon will be automatically transferred to the virtual race. If they don’t want to run virtually, runners already registered also have the option to donate their entry fee to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum or defer their entry to the 2021 or 2022 Memorial Marathon.
They must login to okcMarathon.com and make changes by Wednesday, August 12.
The virtual OKC Memorial Marathon races will take place from October 4 through October 18. All race information will be posted on social media, the Marathon’s website and emailed to registered participants in the coming weeks.
As COVID-19 cases began to spread throughout the United States, organizers became concerned due to the large crowds that congregate downtown and the number of people who travel specifically for the marathon.
As a result, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was originally delayed from April to October in hopes that the virus’ spread would slow in summer.
When that didn’t happen, organizers had to move to a different plan.
Organizers say that while runners will not be able to cross the finish line in traditional fashion, they will still be able to put their training to the test through a virtual option.
Runners who have already signed up for the 2020 marathon will automatically be transferred to the virtual race, which will take place between Oct. 4 through Oct. 18.
At the beginning of the year, organizers were looking to celebrate the 20th year of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in 2020. This year also marked 25 years since the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing that claimed 168 lives.
In addition to the anniversary, 2020 was also set to be the first year featuring a major change to the course.
In recent years, organizers realized that the event had outgrown the original finish line in Automobile Alley.
In 2020, the finish line for the race was to be moved to Walker Ave. and Oklahoma City Blvd., leading straight into Scissortail Park.