FARGO — The optimism organizers of the Sanford Fargo Marathon had in June of rescheduling for the end of August came to another conclusion on Monday. The biggest participation event in the history of Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo canceled the races slated for the week of Aug. 24-29.

That includes the marathon, half-marathon, marathon relay, 10K, 5K, Youth Run, Furgo Dog Run and Cyclothon. The recent surge of coronavirus cases around the country was cited as the main reason, said marathon executive director Mark Knutson.

“It’s getting pretty crazy as we all know,” he said. “Even locally and regionally the numbers are up in North Dakota and Minnesota.”

The 16th annual event will be rescheduled for next May 22. Rugged Races, which owns the marathon, is offering three refund options: defer to next year, full refund from this year or do the event virtually.

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Moreover, for the virtual runners for the full and half marathons, Sanford Health will send a Fargo Marathon jacket to each participant in addition to the usual swag of items.

"We can only do the jacket for the full or half because the price point is so high," Knutson said. “Rugged Races has done a great job with the runners. The hardest thing with races around the country is so many do not offer refunds or deferrals.”

The original plan in June was to have the start and finish lines outside instead of inside the Fargodome like it’s been in recent years. Runners were going to begin in corrals of no more than 500 people.

Around 10,000 were registered for all events with a planned cap of 15,000 for the entire week. Most years attract around 20,000 entrants.

At the time of the rescheduling announcement in June, the state of North Dakota was at a green level of risk for the coronavirus, which is one below the optimal blue level. The state was still at a green level on Monday, but it appears to be trending the other way toward an orange level.

“We felt we had a good plan, I still feel we had a good plan,” Knutson said. “But we felt if even one person gets it because of the event, how can you put a price on that? The way things are going, we don’t need to be the ones to have something happen and people blaming the marathon.”