A North Texas woman was able to turn losses from an event cancellation over COVID-19 concerns into a big win.
Maddie Jenkins of Frisco trained for the Tokyo Marathon for months.
“I wake up, and I run at 5 in the morning basically four to five days out of the week. Other than that, I’m running at lunch. I’m running every single day. Usually do two-a-days about three to four times a week,” Jenkins said. “It’s not just your casual ‘going out for your nice jog.' You have track workouts on Tuesdays, then tempo workouts on Thursdays. My long run is on Saturdays. I think I did two 24-mile runs training for this.”
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The marathon in Tokyo was held on March 1. Tokyo is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors with the other races held in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Berlin and London.
Jenkins qualified for the Tokyo sporting event based on her running time during last year’s Boston Marathon. Her goal is run in all six marathons by age 30, she said.
However, the event was drastically reduced this year due to concerns over the virus spreading. It was restricted only to elite runners, dwindling the number of participants to about 600 compared to the expected 38,000.
“I did not think they would cancel it. That’s such a big event to cancel, but it was in the back of my mind,” Jenkins said.
She was not going to let her hard work go to waste. It was not a matter of if she would run another marathon but a matter of which one, she said.
A number of her friends planned to run the Cowtown Marathon, which happened to be the same weekend. Jenkins switched over to the race in Fort Worth, and won her division.
“After you run 26.2 miles, you’re already getting loopy in the mind. You’re definitely getting tired, but it’s just a surreal feeling to be able to run and you see them holding the tape and you just run to break through it and everyone’s cheering for you. Yelling your name. You hear your name over the loud speaker, there’s no better feeling than that,” she said.
The Tokyo Marathon is just one example of high-scale events that have either been altered or, in some cases, completely scrapped due to the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this month, organizers of the CERAWeek conference in Houston announced they were cancelling the event originally scheduled to begin March 9.
This week, Texas Instruments announced it cancelled its ‘Teachers Teaching with Technology International Conference’ for the same reason. On Friday, Austin city officials announced the SXSW music festival scheduled to run March 13-22 was cancelled, as well.
Austin officials stressed there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, where Austin is located. However, confirmed cases around the world surpassed 100,000 Friday, with majority of cases in mainland China, followed by South Korea, Italy and Iran.
The latest numbers Saturday showed more than 58,000 worldwide have recovered from the virus, while more than 3,500 have died. As of this writing, 15 of those deaths are patients in the U.S.
Dr. Mark Escott, interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health, was one of the speakers at a press conference Friday regarding the SXSW announcement.
According to Escott, this was not the time to panic – but instead, prepare.
“This is not unlike a hurricane looming in the gulf. We can see the hurricane advancing closer. We can see the storm clouds started,” Escott said. “We have to weigh what’s the potential impact of the potential threat of spread -- and what’s the impact of the decision we make to cancel the event, because that can certainly have health consequences.”
For Jenkins, not being able to run in Tokyo Marathon this year meant a financial loss due to non-refundable entry fees. She was able to get a refund for her planned trip from the airline.
Though, she shares a message for people who may be in similar situations as her and now have to deal with big changes in plans.
“I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. There’s always a silver lining, whether it happens right away or it happens a few weeks down the road, or it happens a year from now. Clearly, it happened for a reason,” she said. “It stings and it was not what we were all hoping for, whether it was Tokyo or any other event that has been cancelled, but it’s for our safety. I mean, the CDC is there for a reason. They know what they’re talking about, and they’re just doing this to keep our best interest in mind.”
Jenkins plans to run the New York City Marathon in November.