MERIDEN — The Bernie Jurale Tradition Run has been a winter tradition for more than a half century, with runners converging on Hubbard Park every January.
The 52nd annual 3.1-mile race up Peak Drive to Castle Craig was originally scheduled to be held last Sunday, but under state COVID-19 guidelines, road races are on hold.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Chris Bourdon said Tuesday the race is officially off for 2021.
“When the governor put the first sports on pause in December it banned road races,” Bourdon said.
Initially there was some hope it could be rescheduled.
“It’s a winter event,” Bourdon said. “It makes no sense to do it at any other time. Having this in the middle of winter is what makes it so special.”
The event is free and partly a big party for participants, many of whom return annually. No post race celebration would have been able to be held under state guidelines.
“This is our biggest running event of the year and not to do it is sad,” Bourdon said. “It’s something that happened for 51 years and it will be missed for sure. It’s a free, fun event and it makes it unique.”
The race was started in 1969 when Bernie Jurale decided to run to Castle Craig to celebrate his 70th birthday. The run has become well known and attracts runners from across the region. Jurale, a science teacher at Platt High School, died in 1998.
The 2019 race, the 50th anniversary, drew more than 400. The 2020 version had 331.
“It’s about having fun and making it up the mountain in the middle of winter,” Bourdon said. “With numbers spiking, we don't want to make the problem worse for anyone. Community health is always the first priority.”