Budapest Marathon 2020

Budapest Marathon shows there is a post-COVID future

20,000 head for Hungary as mass events resume

With this week's dispiriting news weighing upon him, runABC correspondent Alan Newman turns to Hungary for inspiration and a glimpse of what the other side of the Corona-curve might look like.

The 35th SPAR Budapest Marathon on 11 October 2020 is part of a two-day festival of running and returns to the capital city of Hungary, straddling the River Danube where the 1849 Chain Bridge – designed by English engineer William Clark – connects the hillier Buda district with the flat Pest area. 

On 18 June 2020, the Government of Hungary ended all emergency Coronavirus powers and permitted an unrestricted return to normal life, including all sporting activities. WHO figures show that Hungary had less than 20,000 cases since the first on 5 March and that less than 700 deaths had been recorded, as at 23 September 2020.

Despite the lifting of restrictions, organisers are still taking no risks with an influx of 20,000 runners from many countries. All competitors must hand in a completed health declaration form to collect their race number; body temperatures will be taken at the entrance to the start zone and anyone over 37.5C will not be allowed to run; masks have to be worn anywhere in the Race Centre and there will be no Pasta Party, showers or massage available this year. 

Saturday (10 October) events include the SPAR Verde 10K and a series of children's and family running and walking events. Sunday is marathon day and includes an innovative SPAR 30K training run/race that joins the marathon route at the 12.195K point. This seems like an ideal way to bridge towards a full marathon for half marathon runners who are not sure they are ready to step up to the full event.   

Bib numbers will indicate start zones (limited to a few hundred runners in a wave) and there are potentially 6,000 marathon starters, plus 1,300 marathon relay teams. Last year there were 4,532 marathon finishers in 5:51:34 and the winners were Budapest residents Péter Jenkei (2:23:21) and Fanni Anna Gyurkó (2:42:54) of the immensely proud Vasas Sports Club – founded by members of the Hungarian Union of Iron Workers on 16 March 1911. 

So, a look over the horizon reveals that even when we return to 'normal' there will be medical safeguards and restricted numbers on start lines but who would not want to be in beautiful, historic Budapest for the marathon next month?

Race details available and results will be posted at runABC South here 

Image courtesy Budapest Marathon on Facebook

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