BOSTON – Missing: Boston’s raucous crowds and smiles for miles. Still there, sort of: Wellesley College’s iconic “scream tunnel” and the thunderous cheers along the finish line on Boylston Street.
The 124th running of the Boston Marathon finally gets underway next month, but virtually — meaning real runners will do the hard work, and an interactive mobile app will help augment their not-quite-authentic experience.
Rather than lining up in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and making the long trek to Boston, athletes will run this year's marathon solo because of the coronavirus pandemic. A weeklong TV special and the new mobile app will showcase their stories as they go the distance on their own.
Amazon and WBZ-TV are teaming up on a “Boston Marathon Live” broadcast that will be aired nightly starting Monday, Sept. 7, through Sunday, Sept. 13.
Co-produced by the Boston Athletic Association, which puts on the marathon every year, the show will air at 8 p.m. EDT and again at midnight on television and be streamed on CBSBoston.com.
The marathon normally is run on a Monday in April, on Massachusetts' unique Patriots Day holiday, but was postponed to mid-September because of the pandemic. Then, at the end of May, it was canceled altogether — the first time in its 124-year history that the storied race in its traditional format was scrapped.
Instead, registered runners are being encouraged to complete the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) distance by themselves — wherever they are in the world — and share accounts of their preparation, motivation and execution.
Athletes also will be able to use a mobile app the BAA is rolling out to upload their routes and finish times. The app includes audio cues that will sync with an individual runner's progress and play at key mile markers, such as the roar of the crowd as runners approach the irrepressible women of Wellesley, a marathon tradition, and the finish on Boylston in downtown Boston.