ATHENS — The Athens Marathon is the latest event to be canceled due to COVID-19.

Marathon Event director Lisa Simons announced the decision on the Athens Marathon’s website, and Facebook page on Tuesday.

For more than half a century, the Athens Marathon has been a part of spring on the campus of Ohio University. The 53rd annual running of it was scheduled for April 19.

“In times like we have never seen in the world we live in, we have no choice other than to cancel the marathon April 19, 2020,” Simons wrote. “We know that you have trained and prepared for the event over the last several months and we have held off canceling to see if things would improve.”

The marathon, first contested in 1968, has the distinction of being ‘Ohio’s Longest Running Marathon.’ The event will not be made up this year.

“Due to many different circumstances the race could not be rescheduled for 2020,” Simons wrote. “However, we are going to honor your registration for the April 18, 2021 event. There will be no cash refunds and the deferral will only be deferred to the 2021 event.”

The coronavirus has caused the postponement or cancelation of nearly every athletic event over the last week from high school, to college to professional. The Boston Marathon, originally scheduled for April, was postponed to Sept. 14.

“COVID-19 cannot be taken lightly. As our Committee has discussed we cannot put our participants or our volunteers at risk,” Simons said. “Gov. (Mike) Dewine has stated that any event of over 100 participants must be cancelled, Athens City and The Marathon Committee are following these guidelines to protect others as well as ourselves.”

Both the full marathon and the half marathon were scheduled to have its traditional beginning in downtown Athens at the corner of South Court Street and West Union, before runners made their way to the bike path. Runners eventually exited the bikeway to Shafer Street where they would finish the race at Ohio University’s Pruitt Field-Goldsberry Track. Athletes would run one-and-a-half laps on the track before crossing the finish line.

The event usually brought in participants from all over the midwest. For example, last year’s full marathon winners — Matthew Conrad and Rebecca Sebastian — were from Beavercreek, Ohio and New Jersey, respectively. The female half-marathon winner — Sarah McGowan — traveled from Pittsburgh.

Simons encouraged people to hold their own virtual event on April 19 and share pictures on social media.

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Kevin Wiseman is the Messenger sports editor

Email at kwiseman@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @KevinWmessenger

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