BOSTON—The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has announced that entrants in the 125th Boston Marathon, scheduled for Monday, October 11, will need to either provide proof of vaccination or produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to participate in the fall race. It is strongly recommended that all entrants, staff, and volunteers are vaccinated. Masks will not be required while running the 26.2-mile course, but will be enforced on participant transportation and in other areas in accordance with local guidelines.
Prior to bib number pick-up, Boston Marathon participants will be required to either produce proof of a complete vaccination series of a World Health Organization-certified vaccine or produce a negative COVID-19 test, which will be administered on site in a Boston Marathon medical tent. Vaccine verification will occur Friday, October 8 through Sunday, October 10 in coordination with the Boston Marathon Expo hours. Participants may bring an original paper copy, digital copy, photocopy, or photo of their vaccination proof.
The B.A.A. will work with a third-party testing provider for test administration and results tracking. Testing will begin no earlier than 72 hours prior to participant start times on Monday, October 11. Exact hours, locations, and additional details will be communicated directly to all participants. Tested participants will not receive immediate access to enter the Boston Marathon Expo for bib number pick-up and will be required to wait for confirmation of test results. The fastest path to pick up numbers for the 125th Boston Marathon is being fully vaccinated.
Upon successful vaccination verification or negative COVID-19 test, participants will receive a bracelet which must be worn at all times in order to access bib number pick-up areas and participant transportation areas on race day. The bracelet must also be displayed to receive a unicorn finisher’s medal on Boylston Street. Boston Marathon volunteers and officials will follow a similar process, and will receive additional information in the coming weeks. All Boston Marathon medical volunteers will be fully vaccinated. Athletes in the John Hancock Professional Athlete Field will follow enhanced health and safety procedures, including regular testing over race weekend.
What if a participant tests positive for COVID-19?
Any participant who tests positive for COVID-19 prior to starting the race will not be allowed to participate in the event and will be refunded their entry fee. Participants will not be refunded the one-time $25.00 USD fee charged at the point of registration to support COVID-19 mitigation efforts, including testing. Participants will not be able to defer their entry to a future year, but will not have the missed race count against any active consecutive finish streaks.
All test results will be reported by the third-party provider to the public health authority of the jurisdiction where the person resides. The B.A.A. will work to ensure that all cases are traced and tracked to prevent any additional spread due to exposure at marathon related events or programs. Additionally, all participants will receive an email after race day asking to self-report if exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19. Any participant who tests positive for COVID-19 must be prepared to isolate in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ guidance and assume all associated fees, including medical expenses and fees associated with isolating and travel. All participants and spectators are strongly encouraged to get tested in advance of traveling to Boston and must have a plan for isolation in the event of a positive COVID-19 test. Unvaccinated people must also have a plan to self-quarantine following an exposure to a COVID-19 positive person.
Any participant, volunteer, or spectator exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home.
What is the mask policy leading up to and on Boston Marathon race day?
Participants must wear masks on race-day buses, including those transporting athletes from Boston to Hopkinton pre-race and from Boston to Hopkinton post-race. In accordance with the Boston Public Health Commission’s August 20, 2021 indoor mask mandate for the City of Boston, masks must be worn in indoor public settings including within the Boston Marathon Expo.
Athletes will not be required to wear masks while participating in the Boston Marathon, but masks will be made available at the finish for any athlete who elects to wear one upon finishing the race. Masks will be required, and provided, in all medical tents along the route. Volunteers assigned to roles with direct interaction or in close proximity with athletes will be required to wear masks, including all medical volunteers. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided to volunteers based upon assignment.
Mask policies will be reviewed on a regular basis and updated in accordance with local guidance leading up to the October 11th race. On July 30, 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued an advisory stating masks should be worn indoors by unvaccinated adults, fully vaccinated individuals with a weakened immune system, individuals with an increased risk for severe disease, and by fully vaccinated individuals whose households include members with a weakened immune system.
What else should participants, spectators, and volunteers expect?
The B.A.A. strongly encourages everyone to “Earn A PR” by practicing personal responsibility for the 125th Boston Marathon. From guests traveling with athletes to spectators cheering on participants, everyone is encouraged to take efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These efforts may include being fully vaccinated, getting tested for COVID-19 prior to any travel, wearing a mask when you cannot socially distance over race week, refraining from kissing a stranger around the halfway mark of the Boston Marathon, and only using B.A.A. provided course nutrition in lieu of accepting hydration or food from spectators. Additionally, anyone who develops any symptoms must avoid public activity except for going to get a COVID-19 test.
In the coming weeks, athletes will receive more information on the rolling start procedure, bib number assignments, bus loading times in Boston, and transportation to the start. The 125th Boston Marathon mobile app—designed for athletes participating in the in-person and virtual races, as well as spectators—will launch in early September.
Earlier this year the B.A.A. announced additional mitigation efforts including a reduced field size, elimination of the pre-race Athletes’ Village staging area, and a virtual race option. Since September 2020, the B.A.A. has been regularly convening a COVID-19 Medical & Event Operations Advisory Group to establish a framework to advise the B.A.A.’s leadership, board of directors, and staff how to safely resume the Boston Marathon and other large, in-person B.A.A. road races. The B.A.A. will continue to review and revise as necessary health and safety procedures leading up to and on race day.