ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Runners registered for an extreme Alaska mountain race annually run on the Fourth of July in the will be allowed to defer their entries until next year because of wildfire smoke, officials said.

Mount Marathon race officials made the announcement following a state Department of Environmental Conservation air quality advisory for Southcentral Alaska, KTUU-TV reported Tuesday.

The deferment option is open for any registered racer who completes a deferred entry form for the annual Independence Day event in Seward, about 127 miles (204 kilometers) south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula.

Runners can collect their bibs up to one hour before race time on July 4, race coordinator Jen Leahy said.

The deadline allows racers to make last-minute decisions based on air quality, Leahy said.

Runners opting out must submit the deferment form by July 5 at 11:59 p.m.

Late last week some top contenders said asthma and other lung issues made them consider sitting out this year's race, officials said.

Runners who complete the race are guaranteed a spot the following year along with 10-time racers and elite mountain runners, officials said.

First-timer runners hoping to obtain one of the limited spots usually must enter a lottery.

This year's deferment option is available to any registered racer including lottery winners, priority racers, petitioners, and special invites, officials said.

The dash up Mount Marathon and then back down to the finish line in Seward began in 1915 and was last canceled in 1942 because of World War II. No races were held between 1932 and 1938, or between 1920 and 1924, during railroad construction, the station reported. The race course is about 3 miles (5 kilometers).

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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