Bloomsday officials announced Wednesday that the 2020 version of the huge road race won’t be held in person. But people who want to participate can still earn and collect one of the fun run’s coveted “finisher” t-shirts.
At the beginning of the Covid pandemic in March, Bloomsday Director Jon Neill and his board of directors postponed the race, usually held the first Sunday in May, until September 20. By then, they hoped, the virus would have been tamed enough that people could congregate in groups again.
“Through June, we continued to brainstorm, sketch and work through all the scenarios that were needed to put on the race," Neill said.
Those scenarios included a variety of logistical gymnastics.
“A Hoopfest-type start grid that would have involved a multiple-street start, along with the possibility of keeping a, I’ll use the term, open spigot for start cues, along with a timed and prescripted arrival time for folks participating on that Sunday," he said.
A few weeks ago, Bloomsday announced people would have the option of running the race on their own, rather than with 40,000 of their best friends, sometime between September 18 and 20. Now with the official in-person cancellation, that’s the only option, one Neill says people are embracing.
“We got great feedback on that. ‘Great. We can do it in New Zealand.’ ‘We can do it in England.’ ‘I can’t wait to do my 12-K in Central Park in New York City,'" he said.
And it’s all on the honor system.
“Some questions have come up, ‘You know, can I do one part of it on Saturday and another part on Sunday?’ Sure. Certainly there’s some flexibility that’s built into all of that," Neill said. "But our hope is that people will honor and understand that, to be deserving of the famed finisher shirt, it’s important that you click off the 12-K.”
Which you will do online after you complete your run. Some will say that won’t be the same and they’re right. But Neill prefers the “glass half full” approach.
“I always hear, 'I would have loved to do the Bloomsday 12-K in 1977.' All the time I hear, ‘Oh, I missed it. I wasn’t able to do it.’ It was the first. This is the very first Virtual Bloomsday. Here is your chance to be part of history and I would tell folks not to miss out," he said.
Registration for Virtual Bloomsday is open until August 26.