The 2020 edition of the event is cancelled due to COVID-19
On July 30, the 2020 Rock ‘n’ Roll Montreal Marathon planned for Sept.19–20 was officially cancelled due to COVID-19. Part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series that organizes road running events operated by the IRONMAN group, the race was the only Canadian event in the global Rock ‘n’ Roll series. This year’s marathon would have marked its 30th edition.
On Aug. 28, organizers of the event announced that the 2021 edition of the race in Montreal would also be cancelled. In the midst of a pandemic, organizers could not find an adequate solution and were subsequently forced to cancel.
The Marathon typically includes four events over the course of the weekend. Athletes can choose between a 5km, 10km, half-marathon or a full marathon race. Over 18,000 people showed up during 2019’s weekend, with 9,500 runners participating in the half-marathon and 3,100 in the full marathon.
“Last year, there were a lot of complications that showed just how hard the marathon is to organize,” said Jay Lopez, a Montrealer who has participated in the annual marathon for the last seven years. “With COVID-19 now on top of all that, it only makes sense to cancel the event.”
The death of a participant who went into cardiac arrest near the end of the half-marathon headlined publications for a number of days following the 2019 edition of the event. In addition, the organizers received criticism for poor management when the marathon’s start times were delayed by 50 minutes, as hundreds of runners were left waiting at the start line.
Consequently, race producer and director Dominique Piché resigned. Lassonde, a major sponsor of the marathon for 17 years, opted out of future events, citing poor management and a significant number of shortcomings with regards to the organization of the race.
With no plans for the series to return north of the border in the foreseeable future, Montreal running enthusiasts will be happy to know there are still ways to stay engaged.
The organization recently launched a virtual running club that enables users to partake in their organized races from the safety of their homes. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series app also offers weekly inspirational challenges and virtual races that can be started and finished from anywhere. They also host a VR Running Club that offers informative resources in training, fitness, and nutrition to help athletes reach their running goals.
Lopez said the virtual social hub will be a much needed alternative to a public marathon; however, he added, the energy shared between participants in a live event is impossible to replicate in individual training.
“The anticipation leading up to a big event is the best form of motivation,” Lopez said. “Unfortunately, runners will have to find that motivation from somewhere else now. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s to keep my head up despite all these hurdles along the journey and be patient in hopes for a brighter future.”
Graphic by Taylor Reddam