BEMIDJI -- After much careful deliberation, the Blue Ox Marathon Committee announced on Tuesday that the annual Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon race weekend will be held virtually this year.

"The Blue Ox Marathon Committee, along with our presenting sponsor and medical provider Sanford Health, in collaboration with Beltrami County Public Health, believe this is the responsible action to take in an effort to keep everyone safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," organizers said in the announcement.

The decision came with the health and safety of all participants, volunteers, sponsors, spectators, and the community as a top priority.

"We know this news is disappointing to all of us, but believe it is in everyone’s best interest," the release continued. "We take pride in putting together a world-class event with smaller community charm and friendliness."

The release explained that the time and effort that goes into planning for the race weekend has already been well underway. Since a significant portion of the events' expenditures have already occurred and are non-refundable, the committee feels they must uphold its no refund and no deferment policy.

"We understand that many of you are well into your training," the release said. "While it is no longer possible for us to hold our event live, we want to recognize, congratulate and applaud each one of you on the time and effort you have spent preparing."

2020 Virtual Blue Ox Registrations:

Registered 2020 Blue Ox participants will be automatically entered into the virtual version of the race. All participants need to do is run their race wherever and whenever they want -- while following the safety measures that have been laid out by local government agencies regarding COVID-19.

Virtual participants will receive:

  • 2020 Blue Ox Long-Sleeve Tech Shirt

  • 2020 Blue Ox Finisher Medal

  • Gift from Sanford Health

  • Swag from event sponsors/partners

Race packets can be mailed out or picked up. More information on this will be released at a later date.

In order to make this event fun and inspiring for everyone, organizers ask participants to share photos and stories with them when running the race. More information will be released on the event website and social media accounts on how to do this.

"Please keep in mind the situation that we are all living through is difficult and scary," the release said. "We will do our best to make the virtual event fun and exciting and plan to be back in 2021 with a bigger and better event!"

For updates, visit www.bemidjiblueoxmarathon.com, or follow BlueOxMarathon on Facebook.