TEWKSBURY — Last Thursday, it was announced that for the first time since the event started back in 1897, there won't be a Boston Marathon event this year.
The race was originally scheduled for April 20th, but was postponed to September because of the coronavirus pandemic. State Officials in Boston and the Boston Athletic Association were hoping that the tradition could continue, but with the pandemic still looming, the 124th annual event was cancelled, with the anticipation of getting it back up for next April.
In the meantime, race officials said they will have a "virtual event", in which participants who verify that they ran 26.2 miles on their own, will receive their finisher's medal.
“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for a historic 124th Boston Marathon,” Tom Grilk, the CEO of the Boston Athletic Association, said to Boston.com website.
This year's race had expected over 30,000 runners and a crowd of over one million people. The cancellation is the first, despite changes in 1918 when the race was modified to a relay due to World War I and then in 2013 when the race was stopped after the two bombs exploded at the finish line.
Among the 30,000 runners this year, 44 were registered through the towns of Tewksbury (28) and Wilmington (18).
Among the runners from Tewksbury includes Paul Areias. He is the youngest of four children, born to immigrant parents from the Azores. The Areias family grew up in Lowell.
Later on, Paul and his wife Sandra and their son Cameron, who is now 14, moved to Tewksbury in 2008 and three years later came Lila, who is now 11 years old.
Paul played a lot of recreational sports with his brothers and cousins growing up, and didn't take up running intil he was 37 years old. He has since worked his way up training for his first Boston Marathon trek, but not the chance of toeing the line for the first time has been put off to at least next year.
"After contemplating my personal goal of running the Boston Marathon for a few years, I decided that 2020 was the year that I would finally run this historical race on Patriots Day," he said. "But clearly the world had other plans! I joined Mass General Hospital's Pediatric Oncology Marathon Team in honor of my brother (Luis), a childhood leukemia survivor, who has been in remission for 38 years and counting. And I have proudly raised nearly $8,000.
“I would be lying if I didn't admit to having been frustrated with the initial postponement, and now a bit angry with the cancellation of the marathon due to the COVID pandemic.
"But then I think of the reason why I am running. COVID stopped many things, but it did not stop cancer. So I guess I won't be running through streets lined with spectators and volunteers cheering me along my 26.2 mile marathon route. But I will be running the Boston Marathon route and crossing my virtual finish line for all of the brave children fighting cancer, for they are my heroes."
Besides O'Hanlon and Areias, the other 26 runners from Tewksbury who had a number and set to run include: Jake Aquino, Eileen Batchelor, Sean Bender, Heather Carroll, Meghan Carter, Erin Chisholm, Kevin Christie, Matthew Colombia, John Doherty, Michael Doherty, Jonathan Duggan;
Also, Fil Faria, Paul King, Kimberly Lannon, Molly Lewis, Lisa Maciel, Michael Pannozzi, Cindy Ponte, Rex Radloff, Adam Savage, Jennifer Schultz, Daniel Shanahan, Peter Smith, Brendan Stapelton, Nichole Stade and Janelle Welton.