LENOX -- The third annual Memorial Day Marathon -- expanded this year into a two-day series of six races -- is expected to attract as many as 1,200 runners, according to organizer Matt Linick.
Based at Tanglewood for the start, finish, and pre- and post-event activities, the fundraiser started with 680 participants in 2010 and expanded to 947 last year.
A portion of the proceeds benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to aid wounded soldiers and their families. Two new events have been added this year and take place on Saturday: The Berkshire Bank Kids Run and the 15K Trail Race.
"We have always thought that a trail race would be fantastic in The Berkshires and a kids run was a natural fit," said Vinick.
For the races, in-person registration is Friday afternoon from 4 to 6 at the Arcadian Shop on Routes 7 and 20, and from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Tanglewood. For the Sunday races, in-person registration is Saturday from 9:30 to 5 at Tanglewood. The Sunday races are open to last-minute registrants from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. at Tanglewood.
Returning to run for the second year is Pittsfield native and U.S. Army Captain Sam Russo, a Black Hawk pilot and company commander based at Fort Belvoir, Va., and his fiancée, Carrie Holland, also a Pittsfield native.
The couple, who met as students at St. Joseph's High School, will run in two races this weekend.
"All the money we're raising goes to the fund," said Russo. "We reached out to some of my friends from West Point and formed a team of 10 that produced exponentially better results we're already over $30,000. This is something we really believe in because organizations like the Intrepid Fund make such a difference.
"We've all served in Afghanistan for at least one year, most of us for two," Russo explained. "Because of what's happened there, Memorial Day is one of the most significant days for us as an opportunity to raise money for something we believe in."
The marathon is gaining traction, Russo added, "and the local community is becoming more involved in the greater good of the race, tied to a great cause."
Russo's parents, Pam and Sam, still live in Pittsfield, as do his fiancée's parents, Terry and Jane Holland.
Event organizer Linick, 39, a producer of races and other events, said he chose the Berkshires because he attended Camp Greylock in Becket.
"As a kid, I was in love with the area," he said. "It's a great destination, so I've been trying to grow this into more of a weekend-long event."
"My grandfather was in World War II, the military is something I never got to be involved with, so this is my own personal way of giving back a little," Linick said. "These guys [go] unnoticed way too often, although not so much in the Berkshires where people do recognize their veterans."
Registration fees range from $12 for the Kids Run to $90 for the full marathon. Former or current police, fire and military personnel get a 25 percent discount.
The Kids Run at 9 a.m. on Saturday is a quarter-mile loop on the Tanglewood grounds. Same-day registration is available from 8 to 8:45 a.m.; the race is open to youngsters 10 and under.
Also new this year is a Trail Race on Saturday at 8 a.m. on a 15K woodland course around Yokun Ridge, including Kennedy Park and Olivia's Overlook. Late registration is available from 7 to 7:45 a.m.
Participants in the 26.2K marathon and the 13.1K half-marathon will be off and running at 8 a.m. The course map depicts a loop southbound through Stockbridge, Great Barrington and then returning to Lenox.
The 10K and 5K runs will start at 8:20 a.m. Organizers also are offering an Inaugural Trail-Road Challenge for runners who want to test their skills by participating in Saturday's Trail Race and any of the four road races on Sunday.
If you go
What: Third annual Memorial Day Marathon, with six events on Saturday and Sunday, to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
Where: All events start and finish at Tanglewood, Route 183 (West Street), Lenox. The courses encompass portions of Stockbridge and Great Barrington. The quarter-mile Kids Run loop is entirely at Tanglewood.
When: Saturday, Trail Race at 8 a.m.; Kids Run at 9 a.m. Sunday, marathon and half-marathon, 8 a.m.; 10K and 5K runs at 8:20 a.m.
Beneficiary: The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund has aided U.S. and British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who were killed or injured in action and their families. Since it started in 2000, the fund has raised nearly $120 million.
To contact Clarence Fanto: email@example.com or (413) 496-6247.