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The nationwide effort to flatten the curve of the novel coronavirus pandemic with social distancing has wiped the coming sports schedule almost entirely clean.
Thursday, it wiped away the upcoming Starved Rock Country Marathon and Half Marathon.
It was announced Thursday evening that the seventh annual running of the event — whose calling card was its record-eligible, 26.2-mile course through downtown Ottawa and Starved Rock State Park — would not take place. It was scheduled to be run Saturday, May 9.
"A lot of people were wondering about postponing (the race to a date later this year), but we really couldn't find a good weekend for that, plus we wanted to be respectful to the other fall races that are going on," race director Matt Skelly, who has been with the Starved Rock Country Marathon since its inception, told The Times on Friday.
"We also have some medical supplies, such as gloves, and we want to repurpose those for COVID (treatment) or other needs at this time. ...
"We really wanted this to be the first race that could happen, not to make money or anything, but to be that light at the end of the tunnel. We wanted to give runners that opportunity ... but (Starved Rock State) Park is closed, and this looks like it could go on deep into April."
On Run Starved Rock Country's Facebook announcement Thursday evening, Skelly detailed the reasons behind the decision to cancel the 2020 race.
"Through much consideration after working and talking with all of the local governments, the health departments, working with emergency management as well as listening to what the (Center for Disease Control) has said, we have come to the conclusion there is not a way, a path, that we can hold the 2020 Starved Rock Country Marathon," race director Matt Skelly said on the event's Facebook page in a post early Thursday evening.
"I have to tell you, it's not a decision that anyone came to lightly, but it is definitely something we feel is for the best moving forward."
Those already registered for the Starved Rock Country or its sister races, the half-marathon and 5k, will be automatically registered for the corresponding 2021 event. For answers to questions, more information on this or to seek a refund instead, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skelly also stated on the Facebook post that some of the sponsorship funds for the 2020 event will be directed toward the efforts to repair and preserve the trails at Starved Rock State Park.
Shawn Ferguson, of Rockford, and Amanda Rossolimo, from Mansfield, Conn., were the male and female top finishers in 2019. While it draws in runners from all over the Midwest and beyond, the Starved Rock Country Marathon also is an annual circle-on-the-calendar event for hundreds of local runners.
The 2021 edition of the Starved Rock Country Marathon is scheduled for Saturday, May 8.
"We look forward to seeing you at the starting line in 2021," Run Starved Rock Country board president Robb Hasty said, "and thank you for your understanding."