Boston Marathon waits for COVID-19
By Darren Lum
When it comes to public events and gatherings, the coronavirus has halted everything from going to the bar to buy a drink to watching hockey player Auston Matthews score on a one-timer. Among those highly anticipated events to be postponed: the Boston Marathon.
Haliburton resident Sue Shikaze had hoped to participate in this year's event on April 20, after qualifying for the 124-year tradition by running in the Hamilton Marathon in 2018.
The Boston Marathon is now planned for Sept. 14.
"Like many people who got the email, I was disappointed, but at the same time you know in the grander scheme of things, it's a run. It's a race. It's not critical to my existence, my health, my livelihood or anything like that and I think that everybody is paying a price in some way during this time," Shikaze said.
"I think for me to not be able to go and run a race, that's a pretty small price to pay given the situation lots of other people are in, so I tried to keep it in perspective that way. Really, because I kind of figured it was coming. By the time they made the announcement I was just like I was glad they finally just decided."
Shikaze said she recognizes she is not an Olympian, but compared her situation to what the Canadian athletes were experiencing regarding the summer Olympics in Tokyo.
"It would have been hard to keep training not knowing," she said.
More than a week ago, she said, she would have started to ramp up her training, increasing the mileage she ran.
Her motivation this year was to compete in her fourth consecutive age group, 55 to 59 years, having participated in 2003, 2008 and 2015.
The decision to postpone rather than cancel the event outright recognizes its importance to Boston, the surrounding communities and the people, Shikaze said. Sporting events have been a rallying point of solidarity and solace for Americans, following past tragedies. She's hopeful the marathon could also serve this end. However she's not sure if the health crisis will have been resolved by then.
There wasn't a goal to finish the Boston marathon in any particular time, but to have the fitness to enjoy the experience and savour the feeling of unity and celebration.
"Every runner gets treated like a champion almost. No matter where you are in the pack the streets are just lined with people cheering you on so it's unique to other events that I've run. There's often spectators, but not to the same degree," she said.
Shikaze heard that almost 250,000 people line the streets to cheer on the runners.
"That doesn't surprise me. Especially when you go through the towns because it goes through all the different towns outside Boston. You know people are there in their pickup trucks and they've got these tailgate parties and barbecues. You can tell that they were just installed for the day to watch people and cheer them on. There will be kids giving out oranges and sponges and water and snacks and stuff. I think all the people in Boston and the towns really treat it as a big event as well. You know it's a loss for runners, but it's also a loss for all of the towns that get lots of economic activity from all the people coming in to watch and spectate. It's a really big event for the towns themselves and for the city of Boston also."
Whether or not the Boston Marathon goes ahead or how the next few weeks unfold, Shikaze finds comfort in doing the thing that she loves.
"There is a new normal for sure, but it's nice to have some normal things you can do. For me running has always been one of those things. It's a grounding thing for me to be able to do and feel like 'OK this is something I always do and something I'm still doing.' So, I'm glad to be able to do that," she said.