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What if my marathon or half marathon is cancelled?


If you’re concerned your event will be cancelled, don’t panic, keep training, and here are a few tips from me as a recent cancellation ‘survivor’.

2020 Corona Virus cancellations

Marathons and other events started cancelling, restricting or postponing, often at the last minute. Until the virus spread more widely and all global mass participating events were cancelled or postponed. 

Meme from: runningthemarathon

Other cancellations

But cancellations aren’t unheard of. Past major cancellations have included New York 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy, Chicago Marathon  2007 mid race due to heat, and Boston Marathon 2013 mid race due to terror attacks.

Get accurate updates

For the most accurate and helpful updates,  stick to the organisers’ official comms, and/or trusted major news sources.  Rumours will always fly, and these can just add unnecessary stress and confusion.

Take a moment to be disappointed

If your race is cancelled, even though you understand the reason for the cancellation, it is still extremely disappointing. This is a date you’ve been working hard towards for months or even years.  You’ve organised a huge amount of logistics around that event taking place on that exact place and time. You’ve trained hard. You’ve probably invested a lot of money in related bookings.  Take a moment to feel disappointed.

What can be done – logistics

As soon as you can, move on to acceptance and start see if you can reclaim any of your bookings.  All situations are different, so you’ll need to look into the Ts&Cs of your own bookings and insurance.

Realise your training isn’t wasted.  Your fitness and progress isn’t cancelled along with the event. There are many other races where you can show the gains you’ve made.  You can pre book a back up, or wait to see what happens, as you can’t guarantee a backup won’t be cancelled either.

I use this quick and easy list of marathons by month by region, when I need to see what is coming up. For other distances, Lets Do This have a good list.

What can be done – training

For COVD-19, depending on where we are in the world, and if we can get outside, many of us are doing home workouts.  You can follow running coaches, yoga and pilates teachers online, and make sure that your strength and conditioning is as good as it can be for when you return to training for an event.  It’s a great time to do all those physio exercises you always meant to get round to.

For those able to run outside (depending on your Government’s advice), general advice is to exercise enough to stay healthy, but not so much as to suppress the immune system. So keeping long runs under say 20 miles, and considering only one intense workout per week.  Easy running will still maintain fitness.

Don’t give up

I along with many other Tokyo runners, scrambled to find other events. From being the ‘unlucky’ ones whose event was cancelled, those of us who found another event quickly ending up being lucky, as the COVID-19 virus spread, and later events were all cancelled.  The surprising thing was that many of us ran personal bests, even with shorter or longer tapering, to fit the new event dates. Maybe because the official pressure was off and we were relieved to run.  Maybe just because the training was still there.


It’s often comforting to do a perspective check. The COVID-19 global pandemic has given that to all of us. We’re lucky to be healthy enough to train.  We need to respect the need to keep those more vulnerable, safe from viruses. We all need to keep safe from hurricanes or dangerous weather, and live to run a race another day. We are the lucky ones.

It’s a great time to remember why we love running.  Even for those of us who go after times, we still enjoy so many other aspects of running, from fresh air, to the mental health benefits.  It’s a time to enjoy the process.

2020 marathons update

All events including London Marathon are postponed, or some are cancelled. These are some of the latest postponement dates for some of the larger marathons.


For any runners running the World Marathon Majors, these are now all very close together, only Tokyo Marathon on 7th March 2021 is further apart.


Final and further thoughts

Wishing you all stay healthy.

In the meantime you might like:
London Marathon entry and other info
Send positive motivational messages to fellow runners in self-isolation
Find cool kit for your next event, even if it’s now a few months away


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