Tag Archives: Tom Grilk

Boston Marathon bans athletes from Russia and Belarus

The Boston Athletics Association has banned athletes from Russia and Belarus from competing in the Boston Marathon, which takes place Monday (11) in Boston.

The BAA released the press statement on Wednesday, citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the assistance of the Belarus government.

“Like so many around the world, we are horrified and outraged by what we have seen and learned from the reporting in Ukraine,” said BAA President & CEO Tom Grilk.

“We believe that running is a global sport, and as such, we must do what we can to show our support to the people of Ukraine.”

The race organisers said that the Russian and Belarusian runners that were accepted into the elite race would be refunded back their money.

No Russian or Belarusian men have ever won the annual race since it began in 1897. Lidiya Grigoryeva was the last Russian woman to win the 26.2-mile competition in 2007.

The 25th edition of the marathon was won by Diana Chemtai Kipyogei from Kenya who had only run two marathons prior to competing in Boston.

Boston Marathon returns with fewer runners, more masks

In addition to a medal, some water and maybe a banana, volunteers will be handing out masks to the Boston Marathon finishers as they leave the socially distanced course and disperse into the city’s bustling Back Bay.

With an indoor mask mandate in Boston, race organizers have ordered 200,000 of them for their staff, volunteers and runners who didn’t slide them onto their arms or into their pockets when they got off the bus in Hopkinton and took off for Copley Square.

That’s just one of the changes when the first-ever fall Boston Marathon hits the streets Monday following the cancellation of the 2020 race and a six-month delay in ’21.

“It’s been more than 900 days since we last ran together here,” Boston Athletic Association President Tom Grilk said at a safety briefing on Thursday. “While the streets remain the same, pretty much everything else is different.”

The biggest changes are a field that shrank by more than a third — a total of 18,252 people are expected — and a new, rolling start: Instead of an athlete’s village in Hopkinton, where runners typically stretch and grab some last-minute calories and liquids, and corrals where they wait for the gun, they get off the bus and go.

Pierre d’Hemecourt, one of the race’s medical directors, said the result should be more space at the start and on the course.

“There will be less milling around in Hopkinton. Use the bathroom, get water, immediately start running,” he said. “The race itself will be much more protected because the athlete itself will have much more room to social distance.”

Originally scheduled for April 2020, the 125th edition of the Boston Marathon was first postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, then canceled for the year – the first time since 1897 that no version of the race has been run. The 2021 race was postponed from April for six months to give the pandemic more time to abate.

Now, 30 months after Lawrence Cherono and Worknesh Degefa broke the tape on Boylston Street, the world’s most prestigious road race is back.

At the safety briefing – usually held indoors but moved outside this year to the plaza in front of the historic Trinity Church – d’Hemecourt said a COVID medical advisory panel began meeting in August 2020 when it wasn’t clear if the event would return in its usual April slot, move to the fall or be canceled for a second straight year.

Their plan started with making sure everyone participating in the race is either vaccinated or tests negative for the coronavirus. Runners will be required to stop by a tent to verify their vaccine status; unvaccinated runners can take a rapid test that would allow them to pick up their bib number.

Masks will be worn indoors, including on the buses to the starting line. D’Hemecourt said about 95% of the runners are vaccinated, and everyone working in the medical tent will be.

The finish line medical tent will also be stocked with extra equipment to avoid the need to transfer some cases to already overburdened local hospitals.

“We’re doing special things like extra crutches so somebody with a stress fracture doesn’t need to be sent to the emergency room,” d’Hemecourt said. “They can be evaluated … given crutches and sent on their way.”

The marathon’s first fall race is also expected to luck out on the weather, with forecasts of temperatures in the 50s and 60s and a chance of rain in the morning.

“We’re going to have a beautiful date, so that helps,” said Samantha Phillips, the director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “Sometimes in April the weather can be a bit unpredictable.”

The unexpected unpredictability for public safety officials: the possibility of a Red Sox playoff game about a mile away. The ballclub would meet the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the AL Division Series, unless one of the teams sweeps.

“It’s very much on our radar that we could have these co-occurring wonderful events,” Phillips said.

Although COVID-19 was the main topic at the news conference, authorities also promised they remain vigilant at the site of the 2013 terrorist bombing. Participants and spectators passing through checkpoints will be prohibited from bringing in not just weapons, flammable liquids and backpacks, but also large blankets and bulky costumes.

Drones are also banned.

“As in past years, the public should expect to see a significant law enforcement presence along the route,” Phillips said. “We want to encourage spectators to attend and cheer on the marathon participants. The weather looks like it will be beautiful. But remain aware of your surroundings.”

Transgender women to run Boston Marathon for first time

The Boston Marathon will welcome five transgender women in its race on April 16 for the first time ever. Organizers say they will allow any runner to compete under their self-identified gender.

The decision has sparked controversy within the road-racing community, some of whom believe female trans runners have an inherent advantage over their rivals, including vital increased levels of stamina.

“We take people at their word. We register people as they specify themselves to be,” said Tom Grilk, chief of the Boston Athletic Association, the group behind the race, the Boston Herald reported.

“Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”

Founded in 1897, the Boston Marathon is the oldest annual race in the world, and one of the most prestigious meetings in the marathon calendar; the 42.2km race attracted over 30,000 participants in 2015.

Bob Girandola, associate professor in the Department of Human Biology at the University of Southern California, observed that if transgender runners produce higher levels of testosterone than their female competitors, that’s an issue.

“If they still have male gonads, they will have an advantage over other women – there is no way around that,” he said. “It gives them an unfair advantage. Maybe they have to have a separate category if they’re going to do that. It’s a dilemma.”

However, others argue that women undergoing hormone treatment therapy suffer side-effects such as sluggishness, dehydration and reduced stamina, and therefore gain no athletic advantage.

“That’s a misconception and a myth,” said Dr Alex Keuroghlian, director of education and training programs at the Fenway Institute, a health and advocacy center for Boston’s LGBT community. “There’s no physiologic advantage to being assigned male at birth.”

One male-born runner planning to participate in Boston legally changed gender and began living openly as a woman, but isn’t undergoing hormone treatment. Stevie Romer, from Illinois, registered to run as a woman “because that’s what she is.”

Another female transgender athlete to make headlines recently is weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, whose participation at the 2018 Commonwealth Games was opposed by critics who said she had a natural advantage over other competitors.

Hubbard, who was favorite for gold in the women’s 90kg-plus, suffered an elbow injury while attempting a Commonwealth record 132 kg lift. The weightlifter, whose birth name is Gavin, competed as a man in international weightlifting competitions until 2014 before undergoing gender reassignment.