STURBRIDGE (CBS) -- The 2021 Pan-Mass Challenge is officially underway. Day 1 riders enjoyed a mostly sunny but hot day.
This year's ride involves 16 fully supported routes.
Organizers kept COVID-19 protocol in mind to keep riders safe. Riders and volunteers must wear masks indoors. Friends and family cannot gather at any PMC stops or sites and the traditional parties in Bourne and Provincetown aren't happening. Sanitation stations are available at every stop along the way.
There are more than 6,000 riders this year, but about 1,400 are participating in a reimagined way, by riding their own routes on their own timeline.
Start lines in Sturbridge and Wellesley used staggered start times to keep riders distanced as well.
"Being back in Sturbridge it feels good. Who rides in darkness but I'm told it's going to be a beautiful day," PMC Founder Billy Starr said before he began his ride. "Wherever you ride, however you manifest your support for PMC, Dana Farber, raise money, you're part of the goal."
Riders starting from Sturbridge and Wellesley were on their way to their destinations by 7 a.m. Many arrived in Bourne a few hours later.
So far this year, riders have raised $42 million, which is ahead of where the fundraising was last year. There is a goal of $52 million.
The PMC started 42 years ago when a small group of 36 riders set out to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. It is now the most successful athletic fundraising event in the country.
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