Marathon organizers preparing to run Bank of America race in 2021Andy Grimmon June 3, 2021 at 6:39 pm

Runners in the Elite division start the 26.2 mile Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October 2013.
The 2021 Chicago Marathon expects to register 35,000 runners for the race Oct. 10. | Sun-Times file

The in-person Chicago Marathon was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon organizers are drawing up multiple plans for some 35,000 runners to hit city streets this fall after canceling the 2020 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 marathon was canceled for only the second time in the 43-year history of the race, with runners getting the news three months ahead of the scheduled race date in October. Organizers held a “virtual” marathon, with competitors running their own 26.2-mile routes.

Organizers plan to register 35,000 runners, down from the usual 40,000.

The announcement Thursday comes at what would be the start of an 18-week training schedule for marathon athletes in the run-up to the race Oct. 10. Runners who registered for the 2020 marathon are able to transfer their registration to compete in this year’s event, or in the 2022 or 2023 races.

“The (marathon) has long been one of our city’s most exciting events for runners and onlookers alike — making last year’s decision to cancel it all the more difficult,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “Now, thanks to the progress we’ve made in our COVID-19 journey, we will be able to bring back this Chicago staple and welcome thousands of marathoners and fans back to our streets this fall.”

Race officials have not settled on final plans and protocols for the event. Organizers noted that public health guidance “continues to evolve” but runners should be prepared for COVID-19 safety measures that could include wearing a mask when not on the 26.2-mile course, providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination.

Chicago was not alone among the major marathons to cancel last year, with 2020 races shut down by COVID-19 in Boston, New York, London, Tokyo and Berlin.

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