LENOX -- The runners are a trickle at first, around 10 a.m. One or two at a time cross the finish line at Tanglewood, to the cheers of the crowd. As the morning morphs into early afternoon, the trickle becomes a river and finally a torrent, as hundreds of runners, cross the finish line, most looking down to check their racing watches.
The fifth annual Memorial Day Races expected a total of 1,600 runners on Sunday at Tanglewood. Skies were sunny, temperatures were mild, in the mid-60s.
"With this kind of weather, we expect a good crowd," said organizer/director Matt Linick. "Probably better than last year."
Although the event is growing, Linick was referring specifically to the less-than-ideal conditions in 2013. The morning was damp and cold, with intermittent rain.
The main event of the day is the marathon, which attracts the most runners. But the day also offers a half-marathon, a 10-kilometer race, a five-kilometer race and a kid's race.
"We also have a bike run," said Linick. "It's more of a ride than a race. Fifty-five miles."
That's a nice ride.
Runners reported the conditions were indeed ideal, although the course can be challenging.
"You have two big hills," said half-marathoner Eric Bruun of Great Barrington. "You hit the first one coming out of the village of Stockbridge going up past Naumkeag. There's a long downhill to the Stockbridge Bowl, and then you're going uphill past Wheatleigh.
The uphills were tough, but one racer noted the downhills were troublesome also.
"My quads on the downhills were killing me," he said.
Other than basic bumps, bruises and dehydration, the medical tent reported no major injuries. And new Stockbridge Police Chief Robert Eaton reported at around noon that there had been no problems on the course.
Bands played throughout the day, including the popular Great Barrington-based Interlopers, who now operate out of Boston.
There were food tents and sneaker tents and an informational tent advocating the work of Soldier On, the local veterans service organization.
Several dozen veterans were running the race on behalf of Red, White and Blue, a national support group for veterans, as well as for Soldier On.
"Today Show" nutritionist Joy Bauer was back at the event, talking up her latest brainstorm and giving away free samples: Nourish Snacks.
The snacks are a healthy blend of dried nuts, vegetables and fruit, some seasoned with tasty, non-sugary spices like cinnamon. For more information, visit www.nourishsnacks.com.
For more information about Soldier On, go to www.wesoldieron.org.
For more information about Team Red White and Blue, go to www.teamrwb.org.
To reach Derek Gentile:
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