For the first time since its inception in 1979, the annual Saskatchewan Marathon has been cancelled due to increasing concerns over COVID-19.

The marathon is operated by the Saskatoon Road Runners Association (SRRA).

In a statement, the SRRA said that it was evident that holding the race May 31 was no longer possible and organizers are unable to postpone to a later date in 2020.

Runners who have already paid their entry fee and registered can run a "virtual race" by completing their marathon distance by June 15 to receive a t-shirt and medal.

The SRRA is also offering deferred entries for the organization's Sep. 20 River Run.

Refunds of 70 per cent are also being offered, as well as the option to donate the money for Meewasin Valley trail upkeep.

"Most of your registration fees have been spent on the 2020 race and can’t be recovered. Although we normally don’t provide refunds, the SRRA is committed to providing this funding to you in these extraordinary times," the organization said on its website.