Plans for New 10k Road Race Scrapped Amid COVID-19 Concerns

A proposed new 10K road race that would’ve traversed Beacon Hill this summer has been scrapped for at least the remainder of 2020 amid concerns over spread of covid-19, according to the organizer of the would-be event.

“While we had begun the work of pursuing the permitting and community engagement for an event in August, this was prior to the current, ever-changing landscape with covid-19,” Aaron Nemzer, director of events for DMSE Sports, Inc., a Woburn-based outfit that plans and coordinates road races, said in an official statement. “Our partners at lululemon hold a number of events globally, but out of an abundance of caution, and to follow guidance by public health agencies and experts, they have made the decision to hold off on events until it is safe to do so. This included cancelling two existing races they sponsor in Canada. In light of the current situation, we’ve put plans for a Boston race on hold as well.”

DMSE Sports, Inc., had previously begun initial outreach with the city and in the neighborhood on a plan to partner with lululemon, a Vancouver, B.C.-based manufacturer of athletic wear and accessories, to present  “lululemon Boston 10K,” a new 10K road race scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 23, beginning at 7 a.m.

The proposed race route would have started at Copley Square and gone down Dartmouth Street to Commonwealth Avenue eastbound before turning onto Arlington Street. From there, runners would pass Beacon and Charles streets as they traversed the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The race would then have crossed the Longfellow Bridge onto state property, according to a March 18 email from Nemzer to the Beacon Hill Civic Association that was obtained by this publication.

“Only the very beginning (first 1 mile or so) is actually in the Beacon Hill neighborhood,” Nezmer wrote. “As such we will be through the neighborhood within roughly 50 minutes of starting the race.”

Colin Zick, a BHCA board member and chair of its Parks and Public Spaces Committee, had previously expressed concern with the event being broached at a time when the city is preoccupied with handling the covid-19 crisis, calling the timing of the proposal  “tone-deaf.”

Beacon Hill is also already inundated events like the “lululemon Boston 10K” during the summer months, Zick added, and unlike other road races, the organizer of this event had yet to offer any mitigation funds to the neighborhood.

Zick said the primary purpose of the event would seemingly be to promote the lululemon brand at a time when the effort could be better focused on helping those in need. “It’s not a charity event as far as I can tell,” Zick told this reporter prior to the event organizer announcing its cancellation. “It’s more like, ‘Let’s use public resources for private gain.’” (In his email to the BHCA, Nezer wrote, “There will be a charitable partner associated with the race,” although the partner and terms of this partnership were otherwise left unspecified.)

“It’s the right call – an angle here is that there will be a crush of demand for events in the summer and fall and we need to be careful to balance the desire to get out again with care and concern for our public space,” Zick wrote upon learning that plans for the road race had been abandoned for the time being.

City Councilor Kenzie Bok also applauded the event planner’s decision not to move forward with the proposal.

“I think it’s a relief because everyone is so focused on [the covid-19 crisis] now that it’s now hard for all of us to make plans for the summer,” Councilor Bok said. “The strong view in the neighborhood I represent is that there have been a proliferation of these types of races in recent years, and it really doesn’t make sense to keep adding dates in the summer when neighborhood streets are going to be blocked without any good reason.”

Besides the need to spread out these events more across the city so other neighborhoods can benefit for them as well, Councilor Bok said unlike Project Bread’s “Walk for Hunger” – an annual event to raise money and awareness for hunger relief that she has participated in for much of her life – the proposed “lululemon Boston 10K” didn’t seem to supports any “important issue” or raises money for any “critical need.”

“When we approve events like this, they should serve a higher purpose, and we should hold them to a higher bar,” Councilor Bok added.

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