The Trail Animals Running Club (TARC) was forced to cancel nine of its 10 trail races in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States. A massive spike in positive cases and hospitalizations tied to Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday gatherings and travel, coupled with a slow rollout of vaccines, made it clear that COVID-19 isn’t yet done ravaging the TARC Trail Series.
In mid-November, the Trail Animals announced that the club’s first race of 2021 – February’s TARCtic Frozen Yeti 30-Hour Ultra – would not take place. At the time, Massachusetts was already setting record numbers for COVID-19 positive tests and hospitalizations and the Thanksgiving surge had not yet begun, so it was clear that it would not be safe to hold the event. It was clear at the time that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s restrictions on group gatherings would not be lifted in time, meaning it would be impossible to obtain a race permit.
The Frozen Yeti was the only TARC race to take place in 2020, about six weeks before the pandemic shutdowns began.
In the wake of the announcement that the Frozen Yeti was canceled, the Trail Animals waited to make decisions on additional races in the TARC Trail Series with hopes that COVID-19 numbers would drop and a smooth vaccine rollout might create conditions that would allow future races to take place.
After two months of monitoring the situation, a decision on three more TARC Trail Series races was made. In a post to the TARC Facebook page around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, Josh Katzman announced that the To Hale and Back 6-Hour Ultra, the TARC Spring Classic, and Wapack and Back are all canceled.
“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you the Yeti continues to evade us in 2021,” wrote Katzman, who is the Race Director for To Hale and Back. “We will continue to look, but it is clear our search will last for at least a few more months. What does this mean to you? The elusive creature/trail runner will NOT be hosting To Hale and Back in March, the Spring Classic in April, or Wapack and Back in May. All three of these races are cancelled for 2021”
“This will make it more than a year since the Yeti was last seen and all of us have been able to gather together to share the trails, aid station fare, and snot rockets (and who doesn’t miss sharing snot rockets? Or bowls of Swedish fish and potato chips? But I digress). Lacking any sort of eloquence, that just plain ol’ sucks. However while it may seem improbable at the moment, those opportunities to share the trails will return! (Maybe minus the snot rockets and shared fare). And when they do, know that the Yeti will be there to welcome you. Until then, stay safe, keep running, and share your photos and stories of the trails we hope you’re enjoying.”
An announcement regarding April’s classic “Don’t Run Boston” 50K/50-mile run has not yet been made, however the 2020 run was officially canceled due to COVID-19 but allowed a virtual option if runners completed the course self-supported on their own time during a 12-day time period. Additionally, no announcements have been made regarding TARC’s other races, the Summer Classic, Fall Classic, Ghost Train, TARCkey Trot, for Fells Winter Ultra.