For the first time in 22 years, the Gary Smith Worthington Classic, which was scheduled May 17, has been canceled.

In light of the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, race organizers decided to play it safe and delay the race for one year, according to a news release sent March 26.

Instead of the race, Gary Smith Race & Charities – the overarching, nonprofit organization – will make donations to those helping young people in need during the pandemic, the release said.

The race was established in 1999 to honor the memory of Gary Smith, “whose teaching and coaching career was a model of compassion for every young person that passed within his reach,” the release said.

Smith, a former Thomas Worthington High School English teacher and coach who mentored cross country and track teams at multiple levels, died from pancreatic cancer in 1998.

Some changes had been planned this year.

The race date was changed to May 17 to connect it to the once popular May Classic that ran a similar route through Worthington in the 1980s and '90s, the release said

Therefore, the race name was going to be changed to the Gary Smith May Classic, as well, the release said.

The event’s 5-mile run and the children’s run still were scheduled, though the latter would have been shortened from 2 miles to 1 mile and would have been completely on the track, according to the release.

The event’s 3-mile walk would have been discontinued due to small participation, the release said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary