Going on and the Boston Marathon

Going on and the Boston Marathon

  • Ken Adams, CDC Gaming Reports
October 31, 2021 6:44 PM
  • Ken Adams, CDC Gaming Reports

An editorial on an online running site recently took issue with the 2022 Boston Marathon limiting the number of participants. The marathon is scheduled to return to its regular date and time on Patriots’ Day, April 19, 2022. The marathon was not run in 2020, and in 2021 took place in the fall. In 2022, the field will be limited, as it was this year. The exact number is not known yet. Marathon management will determine the number after the COVID status is better known and understood. This year, the field was capped at 18,000; 15,000 ran and another 20,000 claimed to have run virtually.

Next year will be the 126th running of the Boston Marathon. It’s the oldest marathon in the United States. The Patriot’s Day event has acquired cult status over the course of its long history. It is on the bucket list of many runners, entertainers, politicians, and other celebrities. A finishing medal from the Boston Marathon is a badge of honor. Other marathons are big and famous, but only one has the famous Heartbreak Hill and a 126-year history.

Boston Marathon 2021/Shutterstock

The editorial opined that the marathon was a hallowed race and too important to the national culture to be subject to limitations again. Of course, all the major marathons have limits on the number of participants, including Boston. It is accepted that more than 50,000 runners are impossible to manage. Boston first started limiting the size of the field by establishing qualifying standards in the 1970s. In the beginning, they were quite stringent, with the goal of being an elite race. The qualifying times have been made easier to achieve, but still function to limit the number of qualified runners. Even with qualifying standards, the size has increased constantly over the years and reached a peak in 2014 with 35,000 runners. Every year since, the field has been restricted to 30,000 runners. The race is so popular that when registration is opened, it usually fills within hours.

The runner-editorial writer thought the marathon was taking itself too seriously and should just relax and get back to the pre-pandemic standards.

That is really my point here; like that writer, we are suffering from COVID fatigue.

COVID-19 closures empty Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, on March 22, 2020/Shutterstock

It is now 20 months since the country and the gaming industry went on lockdown in response to COVID-19. Lots of water has flowed under the bridge since. We have learned that there is no magic bullet. In 2020, most believed that we first needed a vaccine, then everyone would get vaccinated, and life would return to normal. We have a vaccine; in fact, we have several. But it seems not everyone is going to get vaccinated, even if a government, sports, entertainment, or business entity requires it. Now we know that besides the full vaccination, a person needs a booster shot. And an additional booster will probably also be necessary in six months or a year.

The vaccination controversy is not the only obstruction on the path back to normalcy. There is also the supply-chain issue; goods that were readily available in 2019 are suddenly difficult to get. Hundreds of ships sit outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach waiting to disgorge their contents. The president stepped in and ordered the ports to process ships 24 hours a day. The executive order, however, addresses only one small part of problem. There are issues at the other end, the beginning of supply chain, primarily in Asia. The virus has impacted production of raw materials and manufacturing. Here, land transportation is also a problem. And at the end of the supply chain, retail outlets, the problem is further complicated by employee shortages and in some cases strikes.

Additionally, winter and cold weather are beginning and the virus may begin to spread again.

The pandemic was not a one-time event. Rather, it is an ongoing series of events. It is not likely we will ever go back to mass shutdowns, isolations, and quarantines. Instead, we will probably limp along with booster shots, masks, and never-ending political debate on medical issues. Whatever the virus does or does not do, we are all exhausted with measures, countermeasures, all the disagreements, and the accompanying media circus.

Given that there is no ending point, like the Boston Marathon, we need to get on with life. It will not be like before the pandemic. We have entered a new era and the old one exists now only as faded snapshots in an old photo album. Since the beginning of the Boston Marathon in 1897, there have been many interruptions to our economy and society. The marathon has managed to survive regardless and so have ordinary citizens. It helps to remember that fact. The whole fabric of society — lives, society, trends, politics — changes.

So run on Boston: 30,000 or 15,000, fast or slow, terrorists or protestors, rain or snow, run on. And so must we find a way to run on in a changed world.