Are Fall Marathons at Risk of Being Canceled?

Written by Charlie

While the 2020 fall marathon season is the most packed ever, there are many runners that wonder if fall marathons will be canceled and which ones will fall?

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post showing how absolutely packed the fall marathon season is. Many of the big spring marathons had already postponed their races until the fall with some starting as soon as the end of August.

But, there are already questions by many about what may happen to the fall marathons as even Grandma’s Marathon at the end of June announced it was canceled for 2020. So, are fall marathons at risk of being canceled as well?

Will Fall Marathons Be Canceled?

We have 5 of the 6 World Marathon Majors taking place this fall – London Marathon, Boston Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and New York City Marathon. We also have big marathons like the Paris Marathon being run in the fall as well.

The problem for these marathons is that they really cannot postpone them again. All of these marathons have 2021 editions that are on the calendars and there are no other dates to move them to this year. So, if organizers think it is necessary, they will just have to cancel the 2020 edition. This will be an even bigger problem for those race directors that have already postponed the races this year.

This is certainly not the fault of the race directors or organizing committees, of course! No one could have anticipated that this would be stretching on like it is. Even the Summer Olympics that were to have been held at the end of July/early August have been postponed.

Ultra-marathons that are taking place this summer, like the Western States, Comrades Marathon and the Angeles Crest, have canceled as well. As this virus stretches on, it is going to make many race organizers very nervous. Some of the issues at hand are the ability of participants to train for the races (with so many runners in places with stay-at-home/lockdown/quarantine rules in effect) as well as the big issue of the resumption of travel.

Fortunately, we still have quite a bit of time. I do not believe any decision would be made to cancel the Boston Marathon, for example, until at least the middle/end of June. This gives us a minimum of 8 weeks for the virus to turn around.

In the meantime, it will likely make many runners nervous about registering for a fall marathon right now. They may want to wait and see what will happen with the opening of states and countries over the next 8 weeks.

Are you waiting to register for a fall marathon or are you already signed up?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I feel bad for the professional runners since part of their income comes from these marathons. Since Oktoberfest 2020 was canceled, I’d imagine Berlin marathon would probably be canceled as well.

  • Races are going to be canceled most likely. Runner should be given the option to defer to 2021. This will greatly reduce the slots open for 2021 races, but oh well.

  • Today the government of Bavaria, Germany canceled the 2020 Munich Oktoberfest that was scheduled for 21 September to 4 October. Realistically, the big events this autumn won’t take place, or will take place at great risk – financial and health wise – and not at all as planned with regards to attendance levels. Consider that these marathons attract global participants. Many of whom will not wish to risk contracting the COVID-19 disease – disease, not just a virus – at airports, onboard aircraft or in public transport when they arrive at the venue, or among fellow runners who are spitting, sweating as they run in tight formation at the starting line. I don’t think so. Please read up on how COVID affects the lungs and other organs. These disease is still in its infancy as to what the medical community knows about it. Long term effects on infected persons is not known as it’s been only five months since the outbreak. Will a any runner want to risk this?

  • I think large International Marathons, such as Chicago & NYC, will probably not happen. Those marathons pull from every state, most territories, and over 100 countries, with large packed crowds watching and supporting them. If there is an out-break, it would be a disaster; spreading the virus all over the world. On the other hand, small venues, like Big Sur, which has few spectators, much fewer runners, and strong headwinds from the ocean to keep the air clean, would be a safer run that can probably happen.

    • I think you are right. I am seeing some smaller marathons trying to get the attention of runners and I think those could fill up pretty fast this year for anyone that wants to participate. Plus, I would imagine we will see more wave starts, fewer staffed aid stations and not crowded finish lines.