Officials of the Bolder Boulder and the city of Boulder have been discussing contingency plans for postponement of the Memorial Day race if it is deemed necessary because of the coronavirus.
The race routinely attracts around 45,000 participants and has an annual economic impact of $10 million. The Boulder Creek Fest also attracts large numbers that weekend.
On Thursday, Boulder County Public Health issued official public guidance regarding the coronavirus pandemic, saying large public events “will be canceled” if Boulder County confirms a positive case “with unknown and uncontained exposure.” At this time they are “recommending, but not requiring” cancellations, according to Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis.
“We have not directly contacted the Bolder Boulder or the Creek Fest to say you cannot do this, or even that we recommend you don’t,” Goussetis said.
Sunday’s Runnin’ of the Green in LoDo has been postponed. Cherry Creek Sneak spokesman Pat Downing said officials for that race, set for April 26, “are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.” The prestigious Boston Marathon, scheduled April 20, also may be postponed to fall; media outlets in Boston are reporting that decision has already been made. The Boston race has been held on Patriots Day since 1896.
The Bolder Boulder typically is America’s third-largest road race and has never been canceled in its 42-year history. Race director Cliff Bosley is aware of the Boulder Health recommendations and was already considering moving the race to later in the year. The tricky thing is that it is unknown how long the coronavirus will be a concern, and the current date for the race is more than 10 weeks away.
Registration for the race has tailed off as the coronavirus contagion spread, organizers say.
“Our conversation as we’re talking with the city is, we want to do what’s best for the community that allows the Bolder Boulder to be that community-connecting event that still showcases Boulder, still showcases Colorado, is still something that’s really meaningful for the 50,000 people that run,” Bosley said. “In a collaborative, brain-storming kind of forum, what does that look like? And when could that happen, if we couldn’t run on Memorial Day?”
Given that the scheduled date for the race is still 74 days away, Bosley is preparing for both scenarios.
“We can be prudent by pursuing both courses of action and not being hasty with one or the other,” Bosley said. “Both can run concurrently and get the benefit of our time, effort, energy and focus.”
Bosley believes a decision will have to be made by the end of March.
“The other side of this is the consideration of the economics of the event,” Bosley said. “The city or the community of Boulder loses a huge economic driver or impact (with cancellation). So, in the planning, if it runs on Memorial Day, can it be significant? If it can’t run on Memorial Day and has to run on a rescheduled date, it could still be a big deal for the community, for our partners, but also an economic impact on the community.”