Major marathons and other races are returning with COVID precautions

Race organizers and directors trying to keep plans on track while facing difficult choices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheila Sutton successfully held the Wineglass Race Series in Corning, New York last weekend with 7,000 runners, some of them taking part virtually.

In the past, the race director has been able to get a head start on planning but this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of being able to hold in-person events, she and her team pulled it together in just a few months despite different challenges.

"I think of it as a giant puzzle with a million tiny pieces," Sutton said. "Supply chain issues, even the materials we've used for bibs in short supply."

Some events require proof of vaccination while others allow negative COVID-19 tests prior to race day.

The Chicago Marathon is slated for Sunday, the Boston Marathon is on Monday, and the New York City Marathon is on Nov. 7. But some race organizers have had to alter their plans by cutting distances short, going virtual or canceling altogether.

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Jeff Dengate, the runner-in-chief of Runner's World, explains that without volunteers and medical personnel, it is nearly impossible for a race to happen.

"Some races like Vermont City Marathon had to scale back from a full to a half marathon," he said.

While registration in many cases continues to be impacted because of international travel restrictions due to COVID-19, there are many success stories about large races going off every week.

Volunteer registration is still open for the New York City Marathon.

"These big events are happening and they're turning out to be by and large safe events for everyone taking part," Dengate said.

As for Sutton who is always planning for the future, she believes races in 2022 will be as normal as they were in 2019.