The Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service (BURCS) this morning announced several changes to its annual BURCS Race Series due to the continuing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BURCS have put on several ultramarathons in western Massachusetts since their founding in 2013, all of them as fundraisers for various charitable organizations. According to their website, the BURCS have raised more than $92,000 for charities through the years.
The organization previously canceled its first ultra of the season, the Alford Springs 6-Hour Ultra on May 30, while it’s second race of the season, the Vegan Power 50K/25K on June 27, transitioned to a virtual format in order to continue to fundraise for the animal sanctuary that will benefit from this year’s race proceeds.
The organization had held out hope that its other races could continue as normal, but it became increasingly clear in recent weeks that changes would need to be made. Those changes were announced today in a message from race directors Benn Griffin, Alex Bancroft, Michael Menard and Jake Dissinger.
“In this unprecedented and trying time, we are faced with previously unforeseen obstacles,” they wrote. “As we battle the pandemic of coronavirus this year, it is clear that things are not what they once were and will not return to previously held assumptions anytime soon. As such, we here at Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service (BURCS) have had to change our approach to the summer racing season for 2020. Our racers’ health and well being are our top priority, and it is our mission to both maintain our members’ safety as well as continue to support and assist runners and charities in reaching their goals.”
Today’s announcement impacts the Notchview Ultra, Jug End Loop 6-Hour Ultra, Sweltering Summer 8-Hour Ultra, and Free to Run Trail Races. Notchview, which was popular for its 72-hour, 48-hour, 24-hour and other time-based distance challenges on a 1.9-mile trail loop at Notchview Reservation in Windsor, had been slated for July 2-5. Given the continued uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the rapidly approaching race date, Notchview has been canceled. All current 2020 entries have been deferred to the 2021 event.
The Jug End Loop 6-Hour Ultra, originally slated for July 25 at Jug End Loop State Reservation, will transition to a semi-virtual event. Runners have the entire month of July to run their race on the course at Jug End Loop State Reservation and then submit their data for inclusion in the results.
The Sweltering Summer 8-Hour Ultra, originally scheduled for August 8 at Clapp Park in Pittsfield, will be a virtual race this year. Runners will have between Aug. 1-9 to log miles on the surface and at the venue of their choice and then submit their data.
Finally, the Free to Run Trail Races scheduled for Sept. 19 at Pittsfield State Forest have been canceled. The event is a popular fundraiser for the Free to Run organization, so Menard and Dissinger are currently exploring other ways to fundraise for the nonprofit this summer.
While both Notchview and Free to Run have been canceled, the BURCS are introducing a new virtual race — the Circadian Challenge. The two-part event requires runners to complete a half-marathon at night and a half-marathon during the daytime with each half-marathon accounting for half of the finisher’s medal. Runners can pick any 36-hour window during July to complete the challenge.