Sad news for anyone who made the pilgrimage each fall to ride Circumburke. Per a press release below, the event that Vermont Sports readers named one of the five best mountain bike events in the state, as well as one of the five toughest, has been cancelled for 2019. The organizers hopes to Circumburke will be back and bigger than ever to celebrate a 10th anniversary of the running of the event in 2020. The cancellation was announced in a joint release by race organizers Kingdom Trails and Victory Hill Sector leadership. Victory Hill has been embroiled in a battle over whether or not it needed to file an Act 250 permit to cover the trailwork done to the former logging lands.
[East Burke, Vermont – July 29, 2019] In a combined decision, the Kingdom Trail Association and the Victory Hill Sector, have chosen not to produce the 2019 Circumburke Trail Challenge. The two trail networks, located in the Northeast Kingdom’s Caledonia and Essex counties, are dispirited by the decision to cancel after nine years of success; however, they believe it is necessary based on the current circumstances.
The Circumburke Trail Challenge is a 26 mile backcountry course for trail runners and mountain bikers to test their limits. For the past 9 years participants have embraced the single track event because of its difficulty, 3,000 feet of climbing, descending, and adventurous atmosphere in a wild corner of Vermont’s NEK. Just as the name describes, the Circumburke route encompasses Burke Mountain, starting at Burke Mountain Resort’s Sherburne base lodge out to Victory and back. The event, which brings nearly 600 racers as well as their families and friends to the Northeast Kingdom, has been voted “Best MTB Ride/Race in Vermont” several times by Vermont Sports readers.
The Circumburke event originated to serve as an economic driver, supporting the region during the tourist shoulder season. The event has always been hosted in late October prior to trails closing in respect to hunting. The Circumburke Challenge also serves as a fundraising event for the two organizations with proceeds dedicated to maintaining and building trails to provide recreation and education opportunities, fostering the health of the local community, surrounding environment, and regional economy.
A number of factors determined the decision to cancel of the 10th Anniversary Circumburke. The route passes through Vermont State land. The St. Johnsbury office of Vermont Forest Parks & Recreation moved the event date into September due to concerns of trail impact during October. With the change in date the Circumburke will no longer serve its original purpose, bringing visitors to the area during a slower time of year to support local businesses.
The Victory Hill Sector trails are also currently closed to all recreation as a result of complications caused by an Act 250 Jurisdictional Opinion. The Circumburke route depends upon the Victory Hill Sector trails to circumnavigate Burke Mountain. The organizers have investigated rerouting the course; however, this would result in moving the route on to gravel roads. Kingdom Trails and Victory Hill, both single track trail networks, do not believe hosting a gravel road race depicts the original Circumburke event or their networks. The organizers also
recognize that there is a neighboring gravel road race, the Peacham Fall Fondo in Peacham, VT, the same weekend. They do not wish to host a conflicting event.
Kingdom Trails and Victory Hill Sector wish to thank all Circumburkers and our communities for understanding our decision to cancel the 2019 Circumburke Trail Challenge. Those who have registered for the 2019 event will receive a full refund. The organizers look forward to hosting the 10th Anniversary Circumburke together in 2020 in its original form, a celebration of epic single track and trail users, driving economic prosperity during a not so thriving time of year in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
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