In 2016 it was decided that the Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service would be introducing a points system. In our first year we saw runners from all over the country make the trip to participate in at least one of our signature races. The series expanded to add a fifth race, the Jug End Loop Ultra in Egremont, Massachusetts and moved to include the BURCS summer FatAss as a points-counting race.
By the numbers, it was the strongest year yet for BURCS. More than $18,500 was raised and donated to charities and non-profits around the area. In total, there were 282 unique runners who logged miles in one of the five events. Some takeaways that we noticed:
* 282 unique runners
* 224 marathon+ finishes
* 119 fifty kilometer+ finishes
* 8,864.37 miles of running
* $18,000+ donated to non-profits
* 13 course records set
* 1 Ultimate Badass who did all 5 events.
As a race director I think one of the best feelings is seeing those smiles as our runners come across the finish line. After hours of gritting your teeth, sweating, crying, scraping, crawling all over hill and dale, you emerge from the woods or off of the dusty track tougher. The ability of endurance runners to endure heroic levels of pain is inspiring and perplexing to our friends and families.
Whether it was sharing a fabulous vegan spread at VP50, or cold slices of watermelon at Sweltering Summer, or waiting for the faint footfalls and the smallest glint of a rogue headlamp into the night hours at Free to Run Trail Races, all of you have stories to share. It is inspiring when I look at those of you that threw up really strong performances in multiple events.
Who can forget Greg Soutiea throwing down some of the craziest even splits for lap after lap of Clapp, eclipsing his own CR by four miles, or Jason Mintz taking the 50k record handedly at VP50k and then repeating with a 41+ mile performance at Jug End, only to smash the Marathon CR at Free to Run, Risa Le Pera and Jonathan Perrino dominating VP25k, and I could go on all day. Every single BURCS runner runs for something else. Some of them are easy to put a finger on - running in memory of a lost loved one, running to celebrate a new chance at life, running to prove to ourselves that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to. But there is something unique in the distance running community, which is what we at BURCS are about.
We run not just for ourselves, but to be part of a community building project. In just a few short years, I have seen our community grow by leaps and bounds. It seems that we are on the cusp of greatness when it comes to really growing a transformative group of do-ers. We are making waves in Berkshire County and beyond. The dollars we raise, the consciousness we foster, and the impact we are spearheading run deep.
We could not do this without all of you. I want to especially thank my fellow race directors for giving hundreds of hours of selfless effort, our countless volunteers who are there supporting our runners each and every race, and our runners and their families who show just how great the distance running community is. It is so inspiring to be at the finish line of a BURCS race to see course record setters cheering in mid and back of the packers, to see the next generation standing anxiously on the sidelines waiting for mom to cross the finish line, or to hear from supporters that they are anxiously anticipating the next year's events.
2016 was our biggest year yet. And I am confident that we will see an even bigger series emerge bringing newbies and vets alike. I look forward to sharing smiles, laughs, jokes, stories, tears of pain and tears of joy in the coming year. Thank you for being part of BURCS. Thank YOU for being part of OUR family.