Hundreds of residents and workers in Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge are expected to engage in some healthy competition this summer that involves dietary changes and getting into shape.
The Tri-Town Health Department has launched the inaugural Tri-Town Fitness Challenge — akin to the Berkshire Mayors Fitness Challenge in North Adams and Pittsfield.
"We're really promoting healthy eating, exercise and generally a healthier lifestyle," said Tri-Town Executive Director James Wilusz.
The challenge will kick off June 26 in conjunction the first-ever Wild Thing Trail Run 5K/10K race and 5K hike, both at Kennedy Park in Lenox, sponsored by the Mass Audubon Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries. The wrapup will come during the 40th annual Josh Billings RunAground on Sept. 18.
The Berkshire triathlon of biking, paddling and running is a great tie-in to the wellness dare, according to race director Patty Spector.
"The challenge is a great way to introduce people to getting fit," she said. "You don't have to run a race as there are a whole lot of ways to do your fitness."
For the 12 week period, individuals and teams in the three South Berkshire communities will earn points by eating healthy, drinking water and exercising; the highest scores will qualify participants to win various prizes. Unlike the mayors challenge, which runs from May 7 to July 15, the three towns aren't vying for the title of fittest municipality.
"Many of the residents in the tri-town area have been asking for and willing to volunteer and participate in a fitness challenge similar to the larger cities," Wilusz said. "Being part of a collaborative team effort to promote wellness and offer exciting initiatives such as this is another example of how well we work together in the Berkshires."
The tri-town challenge is in partnership with Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries of Mass Audubon, Josh Billngs RunAground, Lee Youth Association and Be Well Berkshires.
Registration is underway at www.bewellberkshires.org, or applications can be found at the Tri-Town Health Department on Railroad Street in Lee, or any of the three town halls.
Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox is sponsoring the Wild Thing Trail Run, which is seen as a good jumping off point for the fitness challenge, according to Becky Cushing, director of Mass Audubon's Berkshire Sanctuaries.
"We know spending time outside in nature has mental and physical health benefits for all ages," she said.
The challenge concludes Sept. 18 with the Josh Billings, the annual triathlon of biking, canoeing/kayaking and running. Challenge participants earn extra points for taking part in "The Josh" or the June 26 walk/run, but aren't required to sign up for either event.
"The challenge isn't meant to compete with these larger events, but rather be inclusive," Wilusz said.
On the web ...
Participants in the Tri-Town Fitness Challenge can follow their progress and weekly updates at the Be Well Berkshires page on Facebook.