Upcoming Josh Billings RunAground will be 40th annual race


Two weeks from today, the Josh Billings RunAground will be held. It will be a special occasion.

The triathlon will be celebrating its 40th anniversary when the cyclists start from Great Barrington.

"I think there are some people who are doing the 40th because it's a fun year. They'll say 'I haven't done it in a couple of years' and they want to get back into it," said race director Patty Spector. "If they missed last year and the year before, I know several teams that I've received entries [from], and they're back, which is a nice thing."

The 40th annual edition of the bike, paddle and run triathlon will take place on Sunday, Sept. 18. The mass cycling start will take place back at the Price Chopper Plaza on Route 7 in Great Barrington. The 27-mile ride will be followed by a five-mile paddle around the Stockbridge Bowl with a six-mile run from Camp Mah-Kee-Nac to the finish at Tanglewood's main gate.

The Josh is currently the longest-running race in Berkshire County.

Spector, who is in her 15th year as race director, said that there should be about 500 entries when all is said and done. That includes teams of up to four people, plus iron people. That generally translates to about 1,500 individuals taking their mark.

If the Josh slots are not claimed by then, registration will end on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 5 p.m.

This year, all of the race registration starts online. Competitors can register at active.com or trireg.com. Competitors can also download and print application forms for mailing to the committee. Forms and more information can be found at joshbillings.com.

The race director said that the growing use of social media has helped deepen the pool of competitors.

"That has, to me, proved to be very valuable because we are getting a lot of first-time entries from out of the area," Spector said. "Not only within New England, but I'm marketing through [social media] .... I'm picking up Pennsylvania, New York, all of New England, New Jersey, all different areas.

"You start getting new responses from people. We're getting entries from Iowa, from California, from Texas, from Colorado, from Florida."

Many of those from outside the region, Spector explained, come to visit family in the area and stay to compete in the triathlon.

This year, the RunAground returns to its regular starting line.

"The race goes back to the regular start at Price Chopper," said Spector. "[Alford Road] will be a brand, spanking new road which is wonderful."

The start at the Price Chopper Plaza will be the traditional mass start which heads the cyclists south when they turn left onto Alford Road.

Last year, the cycling leg started at the Great Barrington Airport and used what is called a "neutral" start in cycling. Road reconstruction on Alford Road forced the Josh committee to make the change. But that was then, and this is now.

"Last year turned out just fine. It was a lot of work, but it worked," she said. "It was very dramatic, because we had them lined up according to what they thought their finish time was going to be on the bike. People listened.

"We had a neutral start. We went down the runway with all of the emergency vehicles first. It was just like this long snake of bikers — which was beautiful."

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.


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