Boston Marathon

Even without a real race, Boston Marathon runners raised $32.1 million for charity

Fans cheer on runners at the start of the 2019 Boston Marathon.
Fans cheer on runners at the start of the 2019 Boston Marathon.Stew Milne/Associated Press

No marathon? No problem.

While the 2020 Boston Marathon was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Boston Athletic Association announced that $32.1 million was raised for 242 nonprofit organizations surrounding the 2020 Boston Marathon and Boston Marathon Virtual Experience.

“In a year when runners and supporters have faced countless challenges, all have remained determined to finish strong and make a difference within the community,” said BAA chief executive officer Tom Grilk.

There was no race this year, but Virtual Experience participants had 10 days to cover 26.2 miles in one continuous run to earn their unicorn medal and be recognized as a Boston Marathon finisher.


Every year, the BAA provides each nonprofit associated with its official charity program and John Hancock’s Non-Profit Program with invitational entries into the Boston Marathon. Each nonprofit manages its own application process, athlete selection, and fund-raising minimums, deadlines, and requirements.

With this year’s funds raised, the BAA and John Hancock programs combined to surpass the $400 million milestone of money raised since the program’s inception at the 1989 Boston Marathon.

“We are immensely proud of each and every participant whose fund-raising contributions will serve a meaningful purpose supporting 242 nonprofit and charity organizations," Grilk added. "To achieve the $400 million milestone in total funds raised adds even more meaning to this year’s event, where Boston Marathoners brought the spirit of Boston to the world.”

“Although this year’s race was different, runners came together to cross their own finish lines and collectively lift up each other and the nonprofits they represent," said Marianne Harrison, president and CEO of John Hancock.

"The $400 million milestone is an example of what’s possible when we come together to foster healthier, more equitable communities, and we thank everyone who made this milestone a reality.”


The 2020 Boston Marathon was originally scheduled for April 20, then postponed to Sept. 14, then canceled in May because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In September, the BAA paused registration for the 2021 Boston Marathon before the time frame in which it usually begins and established a medical and event advisory board to assist with decision-making for the future of the event.

Christopher Price can be reached at christopher.price@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.