The decision to open a virtual run for 70,000 runners is said to make the meaning of the Boston Marathon – the oldest, most prestigious and difficult run in the world.

Due to Covid-19, all competitions in the world have had different schedules and modes of play disturbed. The Boston Marathon has to delay the time from traditional April, to October. The organizers of this tournament also decided to open a virtual running tournament for 70,000 people worldwide, in addition to hosting a live tournament in Boston with a large scale. more compact.

But just minutes after the announcement of the Boston Athletics Association (BAA) – the governing body of the Boston Marathon – about the virtual run, controversy broke out on social media.

With athletes who have spent many years training and competing in certain tournaments to qualify (BQ) to participate in Boston, sending a mass of completion medals to tens of thousands of people will make a lot of effort and experience cheap. Boston. “A knife through the heart for those who practice hard to achieve BQ and then play Boston Marathon”, Mark Howard – a runner in North Carolina, USA – tweeted.

2021 is the first year the Boston Marathon has opened a virtual run for runners around the world without cutting athletes based on BQ standards.  Photo: Boston Marathon

2021 is the first year the Boston Marathon has opened a virtual run for runners around the world without cutting athletes based on BQ standards. Image: Boston Marathon

In contrast, the majority of amateur athletes, including those who practice sports to exercise health, officials and employees …, believe that every change to help a 125-year-long run run in the midst of a crisis. because Covid-19 – is worth it.

Maria Arana – a marathoner and coach in Phoenix – told AP: “We have reason to rejoice when the Boston Marathon opens the virtual run to everyone. It does not take away the experience of me or anyone else about the real Boston Marathon.”

Bill Rodgers, a four-time Boston champion, said: “Jogging is a sport that makes everyone get along.”

The Boston Marathon, like many other major city runways, is struggling to stay afloat during a pandemic. They look for creative ways to engage athletes in online running.

Last year, BAA also hosted a virtual run to replace the 2020 Boston Marathon when it had to cancel live race due to the pandemic. However, the event is only limited to eligible athletes or those who have registered for the charity. However, there are still 16,183 athletes from 90 countries and 50 states in the US who completed the Boston Marathon in 10 days of September 2020.

This year, the organizers expanded, allowing 70,000 athletes with teams aged 18 to register to participate and pay fees to receive their completed medals. They can run anywhere, even walk, as long as they complete a 42,195km distance in one continuous run.

“For the first time in history, everyone has a chance to win our unicorn medal,” BAA president and chief executive officer Tom Grilk said in a statement from the organizers.

Also according to Grilk, the live run is expected to take place on October 11 and limit the participants to ensure the safety of athletes. In the years prior to Covid-19, the Boston Marathon had about 30,000 athletes. BAA has yet to announce how much they will downsize this figure.

Josh Sitzer, a runner in San Francisco that has qualified for BQ three times, initially strongly opposed the idea of ​​awarding medals to 70,000 people from BAA, and considered it “blatant money game”. “Respect yourself and the game, don’t play Boston unless you qualify,” he tweeted. However, soon after, Sitzer changed his mind again: “I was wrong. This event is not like the real Boston Marathon, and it does not take away the value of the tournament.”

Despite the controversy, the Boston Marathon is still preparing for the registration process for the first virtual tournament to be held. BAA said it will soon announce participation fees as well as how to apply.

The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest running competition, held annually on the third Monday in April, starting in 1897, inspired by the success of the 1896 Summer Olympics run. out annually in Boston and ranks as one of the most popular sporting events. The Boston Marathon is also a member of the world’s six largest running system – World Marathon Majors.

The Boston Marathon organizers started implementing a cut-off based on performance limits for runners since 1970, when the number of participants was overcrowded and the track was not guaranteed. Starting from the 4 o’clock mark for the Full Marathon (42,195 km), the cut-off mark will gradually decrease to 3 hours and 30 minutes and more recently to 3 hours.

From only 18 registered runners in 1897, the Boston Marathon is now the dream tournament of millions of runners around the world. Since 2015, the number of athletes participating in the Boston Marathon has reached 30,000.

Thuy Lien (follow AP)

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