In a bizarre year for ultrarunning where the COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the sport globally and led to the cancellation of 22 ultra events in Massachusetts alone, the Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail has beaten the odds and will play host to its second annual 100-mile, 50-mile and 30-mile trail races this weekend.
The 100-mile race will begin Saturday morning, Oct. 10, at the Windblown Cross Country Ski Area in New Ipswich, N.H., where runners will start their north-south crossing of Massachusetts to the finish line in Douglas State Forest in Douglas, Mass. Starting at 8 a.m., runners will start in five waves, with individual runners staggered within their assigned waves, to provide for extra distancing as a safety precaution. The 50-mile race will take a similar approach with the first wave starting at 9 p.m. at Long Pond in Rutland, Mass. The 30-mile race will also employ a staggered approach starting at 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, at Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School in Charlton, Mass.
Organizers from New England Race Events have implemented several safety precautions to enable the event to take place during the pandemic and comply with state requirements. For starters, field sizes were reduced from limits of 125 runners in the 100-miler to 100, from 75 in the 50-miler to 60, and from 75 in the 30-miler to 40. The actual starting fields will consist of 96 runners in the 100-miler, 60 in the 50-miler and 38 in the 30-miler. Included among the returners from 2019 are 100-mile finishers Jeff LeBlanc of Woburn, Mass.; Dane LeBlanc of Littleton, Mass.; Joe Loureiro of Andover, Mass.; Dave Dillon of Tewksbury, Mass.; and Pascal Barbini of Westborough, Mass.; as well as 2019 50-mile winner Keith Nadeau of Fairhaven, Mass., who will race the 100-miler in 2020.
In addition to the reduced field sizes and staggered starts, some of the other safety-related changes include a pre-race Safety Check where runners will have their temperature checked and they will be required to submit a self-declaration form; mandatory mask-wearing at the start/finish and all aid stations; runners will be allowed only one pacer during the event (who must also present a health declaration form and have their temperature taken during the Safety Check); all runners’ crew members must wear face coverings when at aid stations; and only one crew member is allowed to greet the runner at the finish line. Additionally, the post-race party has been canceled to reduce crowding at the finish line.
Live tracking for the event can be done via the RaceJoy app.