Great Josh Billings RunAground: All ages support their favorites



Jack Reed was a bit nettled on Sunday morning at the finish line of the 2013 Great Josh Billings RunAground.

It had been a long morning. The sun was in his eyes. The wind kept moving his hair around. He was a little tired.

Frankly? Reed needed a drink.

Fortunately, his mother, Rem Reed, was right there to give three-month old Jack his bottle. Of milk.

"Well, it's his first triathlon," said Rem Reed. "His father, Stephen, is in it. We've gone to his dad's races before. He's used to it, but he's just happy to have his bottle."

The Great Josh Billings RunAground is primarily a participatory event. Henry Wheeler Shaw, who used the pen name Josh Billings, was famously quoted saying that "to finish is to win,". That is a remark in support of running in the race, not watching it.

But there are spectators at the Runaground. On Sunday, there were spectators along the course. And there were also a few dozen milling around Sunday morning at the finish line at Tanglewood. Including Jack Reed and his mother.

On good Josh days, it's nice to just sit on the benches in front of the entrance to Tanglewood and schmooze.

Sunday was a magnificent day for the race. Kathy Candee of Lenox Dale was at the event because both her son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Erin Candee, were participating.

Candee said she often attends these events to root the two on. But, she said, there are good race days and there are bad race days.

"This is a great day for a race," she said. "Beautiful day, cool, not too humid. Very comfortable."

Candee also admitted that there is another reason she attended.

"Well, I meet them here and watch their kids so they can go to the after-party," she said. "But that's fine, because I love my grandchildren."

Jam Tresp of Sheffield was at the finish line to see how her neighbors, Sam Herrick and his daughter, Hannah, did in the race.

Tresp actually pulled double duty. She visited her old house in Great Barrington located along the race route at Berkshire Heights to see the bicyclists go by, then hustled up to the finish line to see how the Herricks did.

Watching the bikers is, in fact, a regular routine for Tresp. She recalled that years ago, "We'd put [radio station] WSBS on, and the announcer would say, 'And here we are at the starting line at Price Chopper, and the cyclists are off!' And we'd go out onto our porch maybe a minute later and they'd go flying by. It was like magic."

Shirley Wolfe came all the way down from North Adams to see her granddaughter and grandson-in-law race. And yes, her husband was Joe Wolfe, for whom Joe Wolfe Field was named. Shirley Wolfe said she was at Tanglewood basically because that's what grandparents do.

"I go to everything my grandchildren participate in," she said. "Whatever they do, I'm there to support them."

PHOTO GALLERY | 2013 Josh Billings RunAground triathlon

There was another spectator there, or perhaps a better description would be hopeful spectator. Police Chief Richard B. Wilcox was at his 37th and final Great Josh Billings RunAground, overseeing the security aspect of the race. It's a good day for Wilcox if all he has to do is stand at the finish line and look like The Man, which, of course, he is.

"It's been pretty quiet today," he reported. "No major problems of which I'm aware. I think the weather had a lot to do with that. There was no wind so it was an easy day, especially for the canoeists."

Wilcox is retiring in February. As he spoke to a reporter, a number of people, not all of them Stockbridge residents, came up to wish him look and extend their good wishes. As he always does, Wilcox accepted the compliments graciously. He was asked by a reporter if he would miss working at the Josh Billings.

"No, not at all," he said. "It was 37 Sundays I could have stayed home.

"I won't miss the event," said Wilcox after a moment. "It's the people I'll miss."

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