When the Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service brought to a close its Free to Run Trail Races in September, 2019, the BURCS leadership assumed they’d be unpacking the supplies again the following spring – as usual – for the new season of racing. Little did they know, the pop-up tents, trail markings, aid station tables and more would remain in storage until summer 2021.
The entire 2020 BURCS season was canceled or held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for a while it looked like the 2021 season might follow suit. The Vegan Power Trail Races went virtual in June for the second straight year, and July’s Jug End Loop Ultra was set up to be virtual again, too. Race Director Benn Griffin worked to procure a permit, however, and in recent weeks did so, allowing for Jug End to add an in-person racing component on Saturday, July 31, at Jug End State Reservation in Egremont, Mass.
After 22 months apart, the BURCS were back together again.
Thirty-four runners turned out for the in-person portion of the event, with 26 taking part in the traditional 6-hour race on the 4.2-mile trail loop, while another eight ran the single-loop 4.2-mile race. Another 34 runners submitted results from the virtual 6.66-hour race and virtual 4.2-mile race.
Of the 26 runners in the 6-hour in-person event, 10 surpassed the marathon distance, some by just a few strides and others by several miles. Tim Goric, 35, of West Hartford, Conn., led all runners with 41.1 miles completed, followed by Nick Curelop, 32, of Great Barrington, Mass., with 37.35 miles. The third overall finisher and top female was Emily Kisicki, 35, of Montpelier, Vt., with 31.65 miles. Kisicki did just enough to edge 57-year-old Laura Stephen of Brooklyn, N.Y., for top honors among women as Stephen completed 30.45 miles.
Durgesh Mankekar, 44, of Medford, Mass., and Joann Lynch, 55, of Dalton, Mass., rounded out the men’s and women’s podiums with 29.7 and 29.4 miles, respectively. Dan Whitehead, 58, of Great Barrington, Mass., also finished 29.4 miles.
Fundraising for charitable organizations has been at the heart of BURCS races since the club was founded, and the 2021 Jug End Loop Ultra was no different. After race expenses, the Jug End Loop Ultra raised $897.36 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and another $702.36 for Louison House, as well as two 45-gallon bins of donations. Louison House is the only homeless shelter and support organization serving northern Berkshire County. The BURCS have raised more than $10,000 for Louison House through the six-year history of the race.
The BURCS will be back in action with another partial in-person/partial virtual race on Saturday, Aug. 14, when they play host to the Sweltering Summer 8-Hour Ultra at Clapp Park in Pittsfield, Mass.