BOSTON (CBS) – Two sisters who were unable to complete this year’s Boston Marathon due to the coronavirus pandemic found a unique way to cross the finish line – and send a message.

Jess Halliday and her sister, Tanya Halliday, were planning to run the Boston Marathon for the Cam Neely Foundation.

They trained for the April event, and when it was postponed until September, they retrained for the fall. The in-person race was later canceled for the first time ever and turned into a virtual run.

The Halliday sisters are upset the B.A.A. decided not to carry over charity team runners’ bibs into 2021.

Jess, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, recently had surgery to remove half of her lung. So on Monday, Jess and and Tanya rode their horses for parts of the marathon course instead of running.

Tanya and Jess Halliday cross the Boston Marathon finish line on horseback. (WBZ-TV)

Though they initially wanted to ride the horses for 26.2 miles, they instead loaded them into their trailer and drove to Hopkinton. The sisters stopped at several iconic spots along the course for photos and short rides, then drove close to the finish line, unloaded and rode the horses down Boylston Street.

“I figure while I can’t run right now, my main career and my passion, my horses, could help me do it. There’s a saying that horses give us the wings we lack. At this point I guess he’s going to give me running shoes too,” Jess said.

Tanya said her sister’s fight has been inspirational to watch.

“In 2018 when she was diagnosed with cancer it was devastating for our entire family,” she said. “But the way that she’s handled it with such class, such grace, and being so strong not only in her own fight, but so supportive of others, has been amazing.”

The B.A.A. issued a statement Monday regarding its decision about charitable bibs.

We understand that this is not the 2020 Boston Marathon experience that many envisioned when setting out to train last year. However, given the evolving nature of pandemic — with regulations ever-changing and based on time-sensitive data — the field size for future Boston Marathons has not yet been set. We also do not know how the field size of the Boston Marathon may be impacted in the future, since it will need to take into account guidelines and regulations for large scale events that have yet to be established by public health and safety officials. At the highest level, we are treating all 31,500 participants in the 2020 Boston Marathon the same by offering a full refund of entry fees.

The sisters said after they crossed the finish line on horseback that they hope the B.A.A. will reconsider its decision on how it handles charitable runners.

“We disagree with the statement that it’s a lost year and virtual run satisfies requirements,” she said. “We think there are other options available, whether it be deferring people over the next four or five runnings of the Boston Marathons that could be pursued instead. We hope they’ll take us and all of the other Boston Marathon runners, their hard work and dedication, into consideration.”

Comments
  1. Tucker Allen says:

    BAA should let those charitable runners carry over into future years. Those charitable runners spent countless hours training to run and raising money for BAA.

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