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Missoula's Ignatius Fitzgerald leads the pack of 5K runners over the Higgins Ave. Bridge in the 2019 YMCA Riverbank Run. The event went all virtual in 2020 but Saturday's Riverbank will offer both a virtual option and a live race, with the start and finish line at Playfair Park.

MISSOULA — Considering the wild popularity of the YMCA Riverbank Run, race officials just didn't have the heart to cancel.

So they've moved the event instead. The 48th annual version of the Riverbank, which was to be held on April 25 in downtown Missoula, has been postponed until Oct. 3 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"This is a scary time and we don't want to be getting a big group of people together," race director Keri McHugh said of an event that drew more than 2,000 runners last April. "We still don't know what this April is going to look like, but we're preparing, thinking this situation could go longer than expected."

More than 200 registrations have already been submitted for this year's race. Only one runner had requested a refund as of Tuesday afternoon.

"We had people asking us, 'Please don't cancel,'" McHugh said. "We had looked at some dates in May and I think that's probably too soon. Then we didn't want to do it in the summer because we know how Missoula summers are.

"We landed on that fall date. We'll still be running through the University of Montana. It's on a weekend when the Griz football team has an away game. We're looking for a lot of Missoulians to come out and hopefully do one of their favorite races."

McHugh, who also serves as chief operating officer for the Missoula Family YMCA, said runners were still registering as late as last week.

"I was surprised by that," she said. "It's so nice to see how Missoula loves this event. We're kind of excited to see how it looks in October. It will be unique this year."

To sign up for the event, which is open to all ages, log on to: https://ymcamissoula.org/riverbank-run/ 

Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 14 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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