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Portage Invitational cross country meet canceled for safety of all involved in the event

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Portage Invite canceled for safety of all involved in the race. (WWMT/Mike McCann)

High school cross country runners have made their way to Portage every year for the last two decades to compete in the Portage Invitational.

Between runners and fans, the race normally attracts about 20,000 people. With new COVID-19 cases rising by hundreds each day, race director Carrie Drake and the race's board of directors decided it was best to cancel the event.

"We've been monitoring the situation closely and talking with the athletic directors and coaches in Portage, as well as the MHSAA and recently as COVID cases have gone back up the conversation shifted to what can we do to create a really great event experience as well as maintain the safety of our student-athletes, our coaches and volunteers and ultimately It came down to we can't. We can't safely socially distance in a way that makes sense we can't easily keep spectators away," Drake said,

Not only was the cancellation a blow to the competitors racing in the event, but Portage businesses would take a hit as well.

"We know that the day of and the night before that there a lot of teams coming in and participating in the local economy of Portage as a city going out to eat, utilizing the hotels, families coming in this has a really hard economical impact for that weekend. As well as the running community this is a long-standing invitational and a premier event," Drake said.

Even though the race won't happen in 2020, the organization would still be handing out their senior scholarships. One male and female who is a senior that would have run in the race will receiver a $1,000 scholarship to help them develop as a runner and prepare for education for all aspects of life.

Visit the Portage Invite website to nominate a runner for the scholarship.

See More: Organizers cancel Portage's largest cross country race due to COVID-19