What to do if the marathon you’re training for is cancelled

Hertfordshire Half Marathon

As the coronavirus continues to spread and the spring marathon season starts to get going, many runners will be wondering if the race they’ve been training so hard for is actually going to take place.

Already, the Tokyo Marathon, a world major that attracts 38,000 runners, was cancelled to all but elite runners. And the Paris Half Marathon was cancelled the day before the race was due to take place. Today, Italy announced it was shutting down all its schools and colleges so the Rome Marathon, although still not cancelled at the time of writing, could be another race that doesn’t go ahead.

The virus is continuing to spread and is expected to get worse, so with many marathons including Barcelona, Manchester, Paris and London, all due to take place within the next eight weeks there could be many more races cancelled this year.

So, what should you do if your race is cancelled?

Finding out if your race is going to be cancelled

First you need to find out whether or not your race is going to take place. If you have a race coming up, keep up-to-date with information being released by the organisers. Information should be sent to runners providing updates, which is usually sent via email or social media, but you can also check their website for information. Also, most races, especially the larger more established ones, should have a contact email or phone number you can use to contact them. In the past I’ve contacted smaller races via their Facebook page and have always got a response.

Will you get a refund for your race?

Whether you get a refund will depend on the race. It was reported that runners of the cancelled Tokyo Marathon were offered a defer entry to next year’s race, but they didn’t receive a refund and will have to pay the entry fee again. Other races might be different – some might allow you to defer your place free of charge, some might postpone the race, while others might offer a refund. It will all depend on what the race organisers decide to do, however it is likely that you will lose your entrance fee or won’t get a full refund.

Cancelling flights and accommodation

Unfortunately, with some marathons not being cancelled until the day before the race is due to take place, it will likely be too late to cancel flights and hotels. If you do get advance warning, however, you might be able to cancel your accommodation without having to pay, although this will depend on the terms and conditions of your booking and/or the travel insurance you have. A refund on flights is also possible, but again this will depend on the type of travel insurance you have.

Don’t let your training go to waste

Although it is really disappointing not being able to run the race you’ve set your sights on running, but if your race is cancelled you can look for smaller races closer to home to sign up to instead. Many smaller races will still have entries available close to the race day and are less likely to be cancelled due to fewer runners taking part. They are also often less expensive than higher profile races.

The Edinburgh Marathon that I’m training for doesn’t take place until the end of May, but even with just under three months until it takes place I’m not sure if it will be cancelled or not. If it is, I’m still planning to go to Edinburgh as it’s a city I’ve wanted to visit for a while and, although I will be disappointed if I can’t run the marathon, will use the training I’ve done to work towards another race – likely signing up for an autumn marathon instead.

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