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Akron Marathon switches to virtual race in late September due to pandemic

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Posted at 11:02 AM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 11:02:35-04

AKRON, Ohio — After organizers canceled the Akron Marathon back in April, the board of directors and staff announced Tuesday that the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon, team relay and other related race weekend events will be held virtually on Sept. 25-26, with an experience runners come to expect, including a “Blue Line Box” race day kit.

Marathon staff said they considered countless scenarios while working with public health and city officials but eventually determined the risk was too great for runners and citizens.

“The Akron Marathon excels at logistics, and we always want to cover every possible angle for our runners, this year especially. We explored hosting a physically distanced race which would lower our field to a maximum of 3,800 runners and it would take nearly two hours to get through the start line. These types of modifications, while easy for us to execute, would tax the City of Akron in extending road closures, plus the cost of newly identified items post-COVID including masks and hand washing stations, not only would our nonprofit be losing money—we’d be risking the wellbeing of our runners,” states Anne Bitong, president & CEO of the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation.

Akron Marathon
Akron Marathon

Runners who have registered for any of the races will have the option to keep their registration and participate virtually, donate their fee or defer their entry for a future race. Runners who haven’t registered yet can do so through June 30.

Details of the Blue Line Box are still begin confirmed. Organizers are working to include signature elements of the race like a runner’s bib, the Akron Marathon swag bag and a virtual expo experience.

“The Akron Marathon has a rich and vibrant history as one of Akron’s premier community events,” states Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “As Akron’s Mayor and an avid cyclist, the opportunity to serve as a lead bike for the marathon’s world-class athletes is a highlight of my year. While I share the community’s disappointment, I applaud the decision to put the well-being of participants first. Nothing can erase the Blue Line from our streets, or our hearts – and while we cannot share the experience together this year, I am confident the virtual event will be a memorable, inspiring alternative for our community.”

To register for the virtual races, click here.

RELATED: 2 of Akron's summer races canceled, funds to be donated to nonprofits