The Gdynia Half Marathon (© LOC / sportografia.pl)
The Local Organising Committee of the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships Gdynia 2020 has today announced that Covid-19-related health and safety restrictions have forced the cancellation of the mass participation race that was to accompany the elite championships on 17 October.
A record number of more than 27,000 amateur runners had registered to compete on the streets of Gdynia. Instead they will be offered the opportunity to join a virtual competition with the goal of participating in the world’s largest individual half marathon.
The #AllYouNeedIsRunning project has already been endorsed by running and athletics greats including Eilish McColgan, Stefano Baldini, Marek Plawgo, Robert Korzeniowski and the President of World Athletics, Sebastian Coe.
Since the beginning of March, when the event was postponed from 29 March to 17 October, intensive discussions and efforts have been made to find a solution that would enable the Local Organising Committee to hold the event in its original format, featuring both the championships race and the record-breaking mass race.
A comprehensive document outlining modifications to the event setup and extra safety procedures was created and presented to the Polish government and relevant healthcare and sanitary bodies.
Unfortunately, holding a mass race for thousands of runners proved to be impossible in the current circumstances.
World Athletics and the LOC continue to prepare for the elite championships and will make a final decision on their future as soon as possible.
“Surely, that’s not how we imagined the outcome of three years of preparations to this event,” said Michal Drelich, head of the LOC. “I would like to thank the entire team and our partners from World Athletics and the host city of Gdynia for their incredible effort to develop alternative event formats, race courses and new procedures that were supposed to make both the elite run and the mass race happen in the safest possible way, with massively enhanced social distance and minimised touchpoints between athletes, staff and volunteers.
“However, under the current restrictions regarding mass participation events and seeing no perspective for these to be released soon, we are forced to cancel the mass race. We have postponed this decision as long as possible but now it is time to accept the reality. Our efforts are now focused on the virtual mass race and doing whatever it takes to stage the elite competition.”
Registered mass race runners are invited to join the virtual competition with their starting kits – including bib number, official Asics t-shirt, official event backpack and the unique finisher medal – planned to be shipped to them successively in the coming weeks.
The virtual race is also open for new running enthusiasts from all over the world. You only have to create your account on the newly launched platform at www.AllYouNeedIsRunning.com.
Joining the race is free of charge but you can purchase a medal, t-shirt or other merchandise items as an option. Additionally, a loyalty program and three months of complimentary subscription to TIDAL and Runkeeper Premium are offered to registered runners.
Drelich said that despite the difficult and frustrating situation, organisers want to show that #AllYouNeedIsRunning.
“We are runners ourselves,” Drelich said. “We miss spectacular events which not only give us motivation but also allow us to meet friends and deliver all those positive emotions. In the recent months, it was often going out for running session that made us refresh our brains and focus on our goals. We truly hope that 17 October, despite all the adversity, will be a great exhibition of love for running. Wherever you are on that day, let’s run together.
More information for registered mass race runners can be found in a separate statement available on the official website.
Gdynia 2020 LOC for World Athletics