Coronavirus for Runners – What You Need to Know

The Coronavirus has been officially called a pandemic by the World Health Organization and as the virus spreads worldwide – health officials are urging everyone practice ‘social isolation’ and be extremely diligent about washing your hands and other cleanliness habits.

As runners we spend a lot of time potentially using public restrooms or water fountains and during races – we’re crammed into tight spaces together, often exchanging ‘high-fives’ with strangers. And today Boston Marathon officials announced the race will be postponed (not canceled).

So here is a round up of information and resources to help stay healthy during the outbreak of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. You can scroll down for a list of some of the bigger races that have been canceled or rescheduled as of today.

Note: If you are registered for an upcoming race (or other event) – check with event organizers (ideally on their website or social media) for updates and information. No matter how big or small the event – things are changing constantly and you should not make any assumptions. 

coronavirus and running

Runners and Coronavirus

We should all be following best practices to avoid contracting and/or spreading COVID-19. Here is a list of basic protective measures against the new coronavirus from the World Health Organization.

Protective Measures via World Health Organization:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Social Distancing – [maintain at least 3 feet between yourself & anyone coughing/sneezing]
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Practice Respiratory Hygiene
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Runners should be extra diligent about these recommendations because running and racing itself seems to put us at risk for breaking some of these ‘rules’.

Protective Measures via w.h.o & Notes for Runners:

  • Wash your hands frequently – most porta-potties do NOT have proper sanitary hand wash stations [bring your own alcohol based hand sanitizers and/or avoid restrooms without proper tools]
  • Social Distancing – we are often in close proximity with other runners [avoid groups, the gym, races & group runs]
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth – we’re sweaty & it’s natural to want to wipe your face [don’t touch your face, wear a neck gaiter to wipe your nose, wear gloves and/or sweat band too]
  • Practice Respiratory Hygiene – Um, 2 words = Snot Rockets. [No snot rockets!]
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – runners can be stubborn & reluctant to seek medical attention that might result in being told not to run [If you’re sick – Seek medical care, avoid contact with others]

Coronavirus and running

Coronavirus Reminders for Runners:

  • COVID-19 is highly contagious & often spread through coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid contact with anyone sick, anything they touched or being in close proximity to them
  • Avoid touching things (traffic lights, equipment at the gym, etc) that a sick person may have touched
  • Wash your hands thoroughly (& often!)
  • If you’re sick – seek proper medical care & don’t run or exercise in public places
  • Your immune system may be compromised after a marathon or other hard run – take care to get adequate recovery, rest and nutrition to help your body be as healthy as possible

How the Coronavirus is impacting races:

Today officials in Boston announced at the Boston Marathon, which began in 1897 will be postponed. The only other time the race’s schedule has been altered was during World War I.

This is big news for all runners as the Boston Marathon is arguably the most prestigious marathon in the world and many other smaller races will most likely take cues from the well respected Boston Athletic Association.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and several other Boston area officials made the announcement Friday. And the Boston Marathon is just one of several events that are being changed or canceled to avoid spreading the virus. Gov. Baker summed it up saying, “The metaphor here writes itself – today we’re on the first leg of a marathon of our own as we battle this very serious disease.”

Boston Marathon canceled coronavirus

The Boston Marathon originally set for April 20 – has been postponed until September 14, 2020. [ Check out the Boston Marathon website for the announcement – Boston Marathon Postponed ]

The London Marathon scheduled for April 26 –  has been postponed until October 4, 2020. [ Check out Runner’s World UK for more information here – London Marathon Postponed ]

Here’s a list of races canceled, rescheduled or postponed (with date TBD) so far. Check with the authorities on your upcoming races or group runs before registering or showing up to any event. This isn’t a complete list.

Races Cancelled or Postponed Due to Coronavirus:

Tokyo Marathon: Held only for marathon elites and wheelchair elites
Great Wall Marathon: Canceled
NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships: Canceled
NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships: Canceled
USATF Masters Indoor Championships: Canceled
New Balance Nationals Indoor: Canceled
NYC Half Marathon: Canceled
Barcelona Marathon: Postponed to Sunday, October 25
Carlsbad 5000: Postponed, date to be determined
Rome Marathon: Canceled
World Half Marathon Championships: Postponed to Saturday, October 17
Paris Marathon: Postponed to Sunday, October 18
Boston Marathon: Postponed to September 14
London Marathon: Postponed to October 4

*This list is as of 3.13.20 3pm PST. More races will likely be added to this list soon.

If you are registered for a race that’s been cancelled or postponed – check with the race organization for information on dates, refunds and more.

A writer from Outside Magazine has an interesting perspective on the race cancellations, suggesting we can get back to running for running’s sake.

You can read it here:  Outside Magazine online – Coronavirus Puts Running In Perspective

coronavirus and runners information tips marathon races

Here are some sites with more information on how to prevent getting COVID-19, what the symptoms are, what to do if you think you have it and more.

Coronavirus Information for Runners:

Advice for Public on Coronovirus – World Health Organization

Information on Coronavirus (prevention, symptoms, etc) – CDC

Runner’s World has an article on – Is it safe to run during the Coronavirus Outbreak? 

Running In the Time of Coronavirus – NY Times

Your local authorities – Check often for updates on closures, canceled events and important announcements.

Race and Group Runs – Check with the event organizers for the newest updates and information on any upcoming running events before showing up. This includes group runs and club runs.


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