When Race Director Amy Rusiecki postponed the Chesterfield Gorge 30-Hour Ultra from May to November, the COVID-19 pandemic had a firm grip on the Northeast. At the time, cautious optimism existed that the region – and the United States as a whole – would do what was necessary to get the pandemic under control and allow some semblance of normalcy to return.
While some places, such as Massachusetts, saw infection numbers fall substantially during the summer months, the fall has not been kind to the region. Coronavirus cases have ravaged the south and the midwest for the past few months, but in recent weeks the number of positive tests in Massachusetts and nearly all of the Northeast have surged.
On Monday, Nov. 2, Rusiecki decided the current environment was too risky to hold the rescheduled Chesterfield Gorge Ultra on Nov. 28-29 as planned, so she canceled the event. A few hours later, given the rising number of positive cases and COVID-19-related deaths in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker announced the first steps toward shutting down the state again. Among those steps are a stay-at-home advisory curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“Given the Governor’s order that came out hours later…guess I made the right call, as there’s no meetings/activities allowed to happen between 10 p.m. and 5 p.m., so it would make the 100K and 100-mile race impossible,” Rusiecki noted in an email.
The new orders are set to take effect this Friday, Nov. 6. Mandatory mask-wearing, even when outside and able to maintain a safe distance, is also required in the new order. That would have required all runners to wear masks for the duration of their race.
The cancellation of the Chesterfield Gorge Ultra means the 2020 ultrarunning season in Massachusetts is officially over. Just six in-person events took place this year (G.A.C. Fat Ass 50K; Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50K; TARCtic Frozen Yeti; Davis Square Runners’ Not the Worst Weekend Fat Ass; the Village Ultra; Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail), while four events went virtual (Plymouth’s Long, Hard and Dirty Ultra; Vegan Power 50K; Jug End Loop Ultra; Sweltering Summer 8-Hour), and another 23 events were canceled.