CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time in more than 30 years, the Chicago Marathon is canceled.
Organizers pulled the plug because of coronavirus concerns. CBS 2’s Jim Wiliams is digging into the major impact for the city.
The economic impact is enormous. So many people come here from all over the world. But the Chicago Marathon director said safety is the highest priority.
The Chicago Marathon is a massive undertaking. More than 45,000 runners and nearly two million spectators. Hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions all benefiting from the 26.2 mile showcase for Chicago. Including $378 million in economic activity, according to marathon officials.
The 2019 marathon seems so long ago.
“I find it sad but not surprising,” said Doctor Sinhu Aderson of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Because, he said, it would be too difficult to keep so many people running, breathing heavily or cheering on family and friends safe from COVID-19.
“It is difficult to distance more than six feet and be without a mask and kind of regulate such a large crowd like that. It’ll be sadly missed but I do believe it is the right call,” Aderson said.
This is second time a Chicago marathon has been cancelled. Under entirely different circumstances, the race was called off 33 years ago when a big sponsor pulled out.
Today, the Chicago Marathon is a much bigger event and lots of runners raise money for charity. One nonprofit told CBS 2 they’re looking to a virtual race.
The app Charge Running can make that happen.
“So if a charity wants to host and they bring a certain amount of people into the run, we offer them to a virtual race any day that they’d like and the time that they’d like and everyone’s that a part of their charity can join in and run from anywhere,” said Matthew Knippen. “Treadmill, outside, walk out your front door and run a virtual race.”
The famed Boston Marathon was also cancelled. It’s running a virtual race. Those who registered for the Chicago Marathon can get refunds or use their entry fees for the Chicago marathon next year or 2022 or 2023.