Pittsfield State Forest has been the home of the Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service’s Vegan Power 50K for six years, and the BURCS plan on keeping it that way in the years ahead. For 2020, however, the race will be a virtual experience.
The seventh annual event was slated for June 27, but Race Director Alex Bancroft announced on Friday, April 17, that this year’s race would alter its format and be conducted as a virtual event.
“I have made the tough decision to turn VP into a virtual race for 2020,” Bancroft wrote on the event’s Facebook page. “Honestly most of us RDs know that securing a permit for a large group of people in a public park for this summer will be impossible.”
The transition from an in-person race to a virtual event was in response to the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker banned large gatherings of people as one of many efforts to slow the spread of the pandemic, and that has impacted several ultramarathons in Massachusetts and around the world.
By conducting the race as a virtual event, Bancroft said she hopes Vegan Power can still raise a substantial contribution to Red Robin Song Animal Sanctuary, the benefactor of the race’s proceeds.
In the virtual race format, runners will have 36 hours to run their 50K or 25K distance starting on June 27. Evidence of the distance and time need to be emailed to Bancroft at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bancroft spelled out additional details on Tuesday, April 21 on the event Facebook page which can be viewed here.
The transition of the Vegan Power 50K comes less than three weeks after the first ultra of the BURCS season – the Alford Springs 6-Hour Ultra on May 30 – was canceled by Race Director Benn Griffin. The event had been capped at 40 runners, but the extension of stay at home guidelines by Gov. Baker and the continued spread of COVID-19 led Griffin to cancel the event.