Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon runners will need proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test this year

BAA officials are also asking participants to not accept food or drink from spectators and to refrain from kissing Wellesley College students.

Will Belezos places a stencil on the road as he painted the new Boston Marathon finish line on the eight-year anniversary of the marathon bombing this past April. Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

The Boston Athletic Association is implementing some additional COVID-19 safety precautions for the postponed and paired-down marathon next month.

In a press release Thursday morning, BAA officials announced those running in the 125th Boston Marathon will need to either provide proof of vaccination or produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to participate in the Oct. 11 race.

Officials will enforce the rules prior to bib number pick-up. In order to get a bracelet that must be worn to get access to the bib pick-up areas and race-day transportation, participants will either need to show a paper copy, digital copy, photocopy, or photo showing they received all required doses of a World Health Organization-certified vaccine or submit to an on-site COVID-19 test at a Boston Marathon medical tent.

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Participants must also have the bracelet to receive a unicorn finisher’s medal after the race on Boylston Street.

Officials noted that tested participants will have to wait for their results before being allowed to enter the Boston Marathon Expo for bib number pick-up.

“The fastest path to pick up numbers for the 125th Boston Marathon is being fully vaccinated,” the BAA said.

Registered runners whose test comes back positive will not be allowed to participate in the marathon and will be refunded their entry free, except for a $25 charge to cover COVID-19 mitigation efforts, including testing.

It’s unclear if the vaccination requirement will be a one-time policy; asked if it could be instituted for the 2022 race scheduled next April, BAA spokewoman Kendra Butters said in an email, “Our current priority and focus is the 125th Boston Marathon in October.”

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Vaccination and testing also aren’t the only COVID-19 mitigation steps the BAA is taking this year.

While masks will not be required during the 26.2-mile race, they will be required on all race-day buses and within the Boston Marathon Expo. Masks will also be required — and provided — in all medical tents along the race route.

The BAA is encouraging participants to wear a mask whenever they cannot socially distance during the entire race week. The organization is also asking runners to only use BAA-provided course nutrition rather than accepting food or drinks from spectators and to refrain from “kissing a stranger around the halfway mark” of the marathon (that means you, Wellesley College students).

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Anyone who develops any symptoms must avoid public activity except for going to get a COVID-19 test, the BAA added.

After delaying the 2021 race from its typical Patriots’ Day date until Columbus Day weekend due the pandemic, BAA officials announced in March that they would limit the in-person event to 20,000 runners, about a third smaller than recent Boston marathons. Among those who have qualified for the race are runners from 87 countries and all 50 U.S. states, the BAA said in May.

Due to the limited field size, the BAA is also organizing a 70,000-person virtual marathon that officials encourage participants to complete in their own neighborhoods (the vaccination or test requirement does not apply to the virtual race).

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