40th Josh Billings RunAground set for Sunday


It's the 40th Great Josh Billings RunAground Sunday morning. Mother Nature might be bringing an unwelcomed gift for the anniversary — rain.

The National Weather Service forecast as of Friday afternoon called for a 60 percent chance of rain and high temperatures in the low-to-mid 70s. There is also a threat of a thundershower.

"Rain doesn't impact us at all," Josh race director Patty Spector said. "The first three Joshes were done in the rain. We've had plenty of them."

The 40th annual triathlon is set to start Sunday at 9:30 a.m., from the Price Chopper Plaza in Great Barrington.

The race consists of a 27-mile cycling leg, a 5-mile canoe or kayak around the Stockbridge Bowl and a 6.2-mile run from Camp Mah-Kee-Nac to the finish line in front of the main entrance at Tanglewood.

There are 43 different divisions for teams of one, two, three or four people to compete in. According to the Platt Systems website (the official timer for the Josh), there were 473 bibs accounted for in preregistration. Spector has said in the past that the Josh committee likes to have 500 bibs out. Assuming there are still openings, registration will be taken up until 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

"There is definitely overnight going to be some showers. Sunday morning is going to be wet. We don't know if there will be showers or just clouds," Spector said in an interview Friday afternoon. "There's a 10 percent chance of thunderstorms, later in the morning or in the afternoon.

"We will be talking to the weather station Sunday morning."

Spector said that when competitors pick up their race packets, there will be rain-related material.

"Safety is our primary concern," said Spector.

History was made last year, when the Pittsfield Health Food Center team won the 39th edition of the Josh. The foursome of Dean Phillips, Ben Pigott, Mike Dostal and Steve Dowsett beat the defending champion Allen Heights Veterinary by four minutes. It was the first-ever win for a kayak team in the Josh. It also ended a four-year run of wins for Allen Heights.

Last year, Allen Heights was a mixed age 39-under canoe team with Laura Walton joining Tom Keefe in the canoe. Allen Heights has switched to kayak this year, and Keefe will be teaming up with Pigott in the boat. Josh Lipka will again be on the bicycle and Steve Monsulick will run.

"They're such a powerhouse," said Spector. "Tom Keefe has been practicing on kayak with Ben Pigott. They are so strong. Josh Lipka is such a strong biker and Steve is a such a strong runner.

"I can't see anybody being within five minutes of them."

Defending Ironman kayak champion Kent Lemme, who finished seventh overall last year, is back to defend his title. He is not the only returning champion. Robin Frain, the Ironwoman kayak champion last year, Kyle Breier, the Ironman canoe champion, Ironman paddleboard champion Logan Wilson and Ironwoman paddleboard champion Rebecca Cushing are all back.

***The Josh is still looking for paddlers. If interested, email joshmatchmaker@gmail.com.***

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.


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