Traverse City News and Events

Bayshore Marathon 2021 To Be Virtual Race

By Craig Manning | Jan. 1, 2021

The Traverse City Track Club (TCTC) announced on Thursday the cancellation of its 2021 in-person Bayshore Marathon event, along with plans to pivot the race to a virtual format. The announcement marks the second year in a row that Bayshore – northern Michigan’s largest running event – will not occur as intended. It also marks the first major cancellation for a 2021 event in Traverse City, raising questions about what the year might hold for other local attractions or festivals.

The Bayshore, which traditionally consists of multiple road race events – including a marathon, a half marathon, and a 10K – typically draws thousands of runners to Traverse City for Memorial Day weekend. Despite the event being nearly six months away, race officials say that risks associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic ultimately made it impossible to continue planning the 2021 race as an in-person competition.

“After exhausting alternative formats to the 2021 event and keeping the health and safety of participants, volunteers and partners at the forefront, the TCTC is canceling the traditional in-person event and offering its first-ever virtual option,” a press release on the matter said. Lisa Taylor, TCTC executive director, added that the organization has been “monitoring developments in the running event industry, following the guidelines of local, state, and national authorities and medical advisors, and listening to feedback from volunteers, participants and community partners.” Those considerations led to the decision to hold the 39th Bayshore virtually.

Dr. Jim Zeratsky, Bayshore’s event medical director, noted that TCTC has been using orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services its “primary guide” for determining whether the late-May Bayshore Marathon would be able to proceed as normal. Despite the ongoing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Zeratsky does not expect that vaccination efforts will be far enough along by late May to safely hold an event involving thousands of people.

“After much thought and consideration, we do not suspect COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted until we are post-pandemic, meaning we’ve achieved herd immunity and the state has minimal new coronavirus cases” Zeratsky said. “Vaccine production, distribution, and acceptance could exceed expectations, but we think it is unlikely in time for the spring race.”

Registration for the virtual Bayshore event will open on Monday, January 11, with fees of $63 for the marathon, $60 for the half marathon, and $30 for the 10K. Registrants will receive a t-shirt, a commemorative race bib, and a finisher’s medal. Participants who had registered for the 2019 in-person event and deferred to 2020 will have the option to transfer their registrations to the 2021 virtual race or defer once more to 2022.

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