The elite men lead the pack of Beach to Beacon runners at the start of the 2019 race in Cape Elizabeth. This year’s race is scheduled for Aug. 1. but its status is in doubt because of the pandemic. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

TD Beach to Beacon 10K officials plan to make a decision about the status of this summer’s road race by the end of April.

Beach to Beacon President David Backer said Tuesday the race’s board of directors has been meeting weekly to discuss all scenarios if the 23rd Beach to Beacon cannot be held as scheduled on Aug. 1. The coronavirus pandemic has already forced many races to cancel or postpone to the fall, including the Boston Marathon, which was to have been run on Monday.

“Everything is on the table,” said Backer. “I think the obvious options are a possible postponement, an outright cancellation or the creation of some type of virtual event for someone who would want to participate in a virtual event.”

Holding the race as scheduled is still an option, said Backer. But, he added, “My sense is that holding the race on Aug. 1 is becoming more remote of an option with each passing week.

“For us to hold race on Aug. 1, there would have to be a fairly quick and dramatic announcement that social distancing norms are being lifted, not just for day-to-day activities but for large gatherings. With each passing week, it looks like the odds of social distancing lifted for large events is becoming remote.”

The race, founded by 1984 Olympic women’s marathon winner Joan Benoit Samuelson, annually attracts Maine’s largest racing field. Last year 6,413 runners finished.

And already this year, over 6,500 runners have registered. Backer said if the race is canceled, “our intent is to refund the entry fees.”

Dave McGillivray, race director of the Boston Marathon, Beach to Beacon and other road races, said there is no magic formula when making a decision such as this.

“The tough part about all of this is that the only thing that is certain is that everything is uncertain,” he said, comparing this to a long-range weather forecast and its obvious variables. “As you get closer and closer that info gets more credible and can make a better decision. When is the optimum time to make a decision like this? You don’t want to prematurely pull the plug, but at same time you don’t want to wait so long so that you’re inconveniencing people who are making plans.”

Backer said the decision will ultimately be based on one thing: “The health and welfare of the entire community, its participants, volunteers, sponsors, medical team, members of the community. Their health is paramount in any decision we make.”

McGillivray said race officials will follow the direction of government officials and their own medical team. “We’ll be listening to our medical partners, what they’re seeing out there, what’s safe and what isn’t safe, he said. “As well as what they’re capable of providing in terms of coverage. We have to be sensitive to the fact that we have a lot of medical personnel to work the race. If they’re not available, or if supplies are not available or at a premium, we have to factor that into our decision as well.”

And with so many road races already being pushed into the fall, McGillivray said it is important to make a decision sooner than later if race officials plan to postpone the Beach to Beacon, so they can secure an open date. He’s had a dozen events already postponed this year.

“There’s going to be a lot of events in the fall,” he said. “You don’t want to go head to head with other major events.”

There is a lot to factor, said McGillivray, but only one thing matters.

“We’re hopeful, everybody wants to see it happen,” he said. “But it’s not going to happen if it’s not safe.”


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