Since its inaugural running in 2016, the Trail Animals Running Club’s TARCkey Trot 6-Hour Ultra has been a popular way for local trail- and ultrarunners to burn some pre-Thanksgiving calories. After four successful years, the 2020 edition was forced to be canceled due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the TARCkey Trot is back. Race Director Jeff LeBlanc made the news official in a post Sept. 24 on the TARC Facebook page. The race will take place at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester, Mass. Entry can be done via RunReg at this link. The cost is $32 per runner, and the event is limited to 90 runners. Additionally, those interested in volunteering can sign up at this link.
The race takes place on a 3.1-mile trail loop that winds through Whipple Hill and Wright-Locke Farm. The trails include rocky singletrack, brief sections of cross country-style open fields, lots of twists and turns, and around 400 feet of gain per loop. Runners will have six hours to complete as many loops of the course as they want. The men’s course record stands at 40.3 miles by Patrick Caron who completed 13 loops of the course in 2017. That topped the previous record that Caron set at the inaugural race in 2016 when he finished 12 loops for 37.2 miles. The women’s course record of 10 loops and 31 miles was established by Alexandra Brinkert at the 2016 race and later matched by Bess Ritter and Bridget Ferrin-Smith in 2017 and Justine Cohen in 2019.
The return of the TARCkey Trot and many other local trail ultramarathons was enabled thanks to the successful COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Massachusetts and all of New England. The New England states lead the nation in vaccination rate, and that allowed pandemic conditions to improve and restrictions to be removed. That cleared the way for TARC to resume races earlier this year. That began with the club’s original event, the “Don’t Run Boston” 50K, in mid-April, followed by the TARC Summer Classic in August. The TARC Fall Classic had been scheduled for Oct. 9, but was canceled due to limited entries as the race overlapped with the Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail 100-mile, 50-mile and 30-mile races on the same day. TARC will also play host to the Ghost Train Rail Trail Races on Oct. 16-17. That means the TARCkey Trot will be TARC’s fourth event and third formal race (DRB always has a limited field, wave starts, and an unmarked course). A fifth TARC race – the Fells Winter Ultra – will close out the year on Dec. 4 at the Middlesex Fells Reservation. LeBlanc is also the race director for that event.