Non-profit organizers cancel the 2020 BMO Vancouver Marathon amid COVID-19 concerns

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Non-profit organizers cancel the 2020 BMO Vancouver Marathon amid COVID-19 concerns
Registered runners may still enjoy a virtual run, the Fall Classic, and discounts on next year's race

The 2020 BMO Vancouver Marathon has been cancelled due to increased COVID-19 concerns and the recent directive from the British Columbia Provincial Health Officer to ban all public gatherings that exceed 50 people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also stated organizations should ban events with 50 or more people through May 11, 2020.

We respect this decision, and understand the importance of doing everything we can to keep our community as safe as possible. The health and safety of our runners, our volunteers, fans, stakeholders, and the public at large, is always our highest priority.

Event organizers, the non-profit Vancouver International Marathon Society is led by a volunteer Board of Directors and is supported by nearly 4,000 volunteers, and we all share in your disappointment. We take our responsibility of delivering a first-class experience to you very seriously, and know first hand the effort, time and commitment that goes into preparing for this event.

We’d still like to honour all of the hard work you have put in. While our non-profit is unable to offer refunds since the majority of registration funds have already been spent on operations and advance purchases, we are doing what we can to respond to this unprecedented situation, and are offering all registered participants the following:

  • Virtual race opportunities to claim your exclusive tech shirt and medal. You’ll have the option of picking up your BMO Vancouver Marathon 2020 rewards at select Running Room locations, at the Fall Classic, or we'll mail you your tech shirt and medal once you complete this virtual race.
  • Free race entry into the upcoming Fall Classic 2020 Half Marathon, 10KM and 5KM, races also organized by RUNVAN®. You’re invited to tailor your training to now target this staple event part of the Great Trek Festival in Vancouver, BC, October 24-25, 2020.
  • Minimum 20% discount on your BMO Vancouver Marathon 2021 race when registration re-opens. As shared in the additional FAQ section below, we understand and hear your frustrations, and are continuing to work with all of our sponsors and partners to potentially find further discounts on registration for 2021. Please consider joining us for the 50th edition of this long-standing community event on Sunday, May 2, 2021.

Details on how to opt-in to the Virtual Race, Fall Classic, and next BMO Vancouver Marathon event will be emailed to all runners who registered for the 2020 BMO Vancouver Marathon shortly. Additional information will be made available here at bmovanmarathon.ca/covid

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this uncertain and evolving time. We remain hopeful that the public health risk associated with COVID-19 will improve and encourage everyone to follow the lead of the Public Health Agency of Canada and related health organizations.

Thank you, and we hope to see you again soon.


Please note we are waiting until the bans related to the COVID-19 outbreak have been removed by health authorities before making any further updates. As shared in the FAQs below, we are also currently working with all of our sponsors and suppliers to potentially find further discounts on next year’s registration. Registered runners will be emailed at a later date. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Additional FAQs

What is the refund policy?
Traditionally, race registrations are non-refundable per race polices and the majority of registration funds have already been spent on operations, advance purchases, and a 2020 marketing campaign for Canada’s largest Marathon that began back in September of 2019. While the majority of the funds have already been spent, in response to this unprecedented situation, RUNVAN® is seeking alternative solutions. We understand and hear your frustrations, and are continuing to work with all of our sponsors and partners to potentially find further discounts on registration for 2021. We will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date information on 2021 registration in the coming weeks.

What do I still receive?
We are continuing to work on solutions for you. You’ll be invited to run a Virtual Race and then have options to pick-up your exclusive tech tee and race medal. For the international runners representing 65+ countries, your rewards will be mailed. Additionally, you may want to tailor your training and join us later in the year at the Fall Classic, October 24-25, 2020. This staple event also organized by RUNVAN® currently features race distances of 5KM, 10KM and 21.1KM. Plus, you’ll receive a minimum 20% discount on next year’s BMO Vancouver Marathon race. We are currently working with our sponsors and suppliers to potentially find further discounts on next year’s registration. Further details will be emailed to all registered runners shortly.

Where has the money been spent?
Vancouver’s only Marathon event relies on registration and sponsorship funds and is operated and managed by the local non-profit RUNVAN®. Technical race shirts and medals have already been ordered – and runners will still be provided with those rewards. While the majority of funds dedicated to the cost of running the event have already been allocated, please be patient as we continue to work through the fall-out of this unprecedented situation and continue to tabulate all of the associated costs. We are currently working with all of our sponsors and suppliers to potentially find further discounts on next year’s registration. We will share an additional update on this in the coming weeks.

May I defer to next year?
You may defer to the Fall Classic on October 24-25. Our non-profit will also continue to look for ways to potentially further reduce your registration fees on the next BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 2, 2021, and we will communicate with you once more information is available. At minimum, you’ll receive a 20% discount on next year’s race. Our team is currently following up with sponsors and suppliers to find additional ways to potentially further compensate all registered participants.

What was the process for decision making?
The decision to cancel this year’s event was made in response to COVID-19 concerns, and the recent directive from the British Columbia Provincial Health Officer to ban all public gatherings that exceed 250 people, now 50 people. Postponing the event does not address the unknowns around when COVID-19 concerns may be resolved. The non-profit Vancouver International Marathon Society is led by a volunteer Board of Directors who are all runners, and is supported by nearly 4,000 volunteers. As a passionate run community, we all share in your disappointment of not hosting Vancouver’s only Marathon event this year.

What is COVID-19?
On March 11, the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. March 12, B.C. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stated that event organizers are to cancel all gatherings of 250 people or more. March 13, the volunteer Board of Directors at RUNVAN® officially announced the cancellation of this year’s event. The federal government has also placed new travel bans into Canada. Vancouver’s only Marathon event draws runners from 65+ countries and many of those countries have their own travel restrictions, as well, as a result of COVID-19.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also stated organizations should reschedule events with 50 or more people through May 11, 2020. Given the directive of the health organizations, the BMO Vancouver Marathon could not safely proceed as initially planned.

Why can’t the race be rescheduled?
COVID-19 concerns are proving to be dynamic and ever changing, and we can not predict when the Public Health Agency of Canada will deem it safe to hold a large scale public event. We fully respect decisions that are being made by the health authorities to keep our communities safe, and we want to be part of the solution. As such, we are now focusing on options to honour all the hard work you’ve put into preparing for this year’s race. We also want to give you, and our stakeholders, time to create alternative plans. Marathon planning for our non-profit starts more than a year in advance, and we will later turn to organizing the event’s 50th edition.

What happens to the money I’ve been raising for charity?
Thank you. Runners have helped to raise over $15 million dollars for charity through our RUN4HOPE Charity Program. Money raised thus far will still go towards your chosen charities.

May I still collect my tech shirt and medal?
Yes, you’ll have the option of picking up your BMO Vancouver Marathon 2020 rewards at select Running Room locations, at the Fall Classic, or we will mail you your tech shirt and medals once you complete the Virtual Run. Details are to be confirmed after bans related to the COVID-19 outbreak have been removed, and specific information will be emailed to all registered runners at a later date. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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