The Josh gets new course to replace algae-laden Stockbridge Bowl

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The Josh Billings RunAground will take off from the same location and wrap up at the same finish line at Tanglewood on Sept. 16. In between, everything will be different.

Several days after it was announced that Stockbridge Bowl would not be able to host the paddling portion of the triathlon, the Josh committee, led by race director Patty Spector, announced that a new course will see bikers head to Richmond Pond for the first handoff of the day, with paddlers then tagging off to runners at Camp Russell for the final portion of the race.

"It's been — you can't even imagine how much work this has been," Spector said on Sunday night. "The committee has been amazing. We have spent the last three days pretty much spending all day on it."

The new course means new distances. The bike route, which is not changing the starting location at Price Chopper in Great Barrington, is now 24.2 miles, then there will be a handoff at the boat ramp at Richmond Pond, and a 1/3-mile run for the paddlers down to their boats. Once in the boats, paddlers will go 1 1/2 times around Richmond Pond — approximately 3 1/2 miles — to Camp Russell for the handoff to the runners. Runners will then take off to Swamp Road, turn left onto East Road, then down Lenox Road and over Lenox Mountain to Tanglewood. The run will be increased in length, from the traditional 10 kilometers to 6.5 miles.

The new bike course deviates in West Stockbridge, where cyclists will turn onto Route 41 before making their way over to the Richmond Pond boat launch. Once on Route 41, bikers will turn right onto Summit Road, then at the end of Summit Road bikers will turn left onto Swamp Road, then left onto Boys Club Road. Bikers will then proceed down the road all the way to the boat ramp, where the transition area will be set up.

"The Town of Richmond has been wonderful to work with," Spector said. "People around Richmond Pond have been absolutely wonderful to work with. We know that there has been a lot of activity there that they are not used to. ... We really appreciate that they let us come in and kind of disrupt things for a week. We are very grateful that they allowed us to do this."

Spector said that the outpouring of help was overwhelming. From the moment Stockbridge Bowl was taken off the table, Spector said her phone and email inbox have been full of kind messages from those willing to help. Spector noted that the Parks and Recreation Department in Pittsfield offered up city lakes for use, that volunteers have consistently offered to chip in any way they can, and that state Department of Fish and Game made transitioning the Josh's permit from Stockbridge Bowl to Richmond Pond a seamless one.

"I knew the Josh was, to me, a big deal — to a lot of us that have been with it a long time, it's a big deal. I always said we got community support, but I never knew how much community support. It's overwhelming, how many people offered to help us."

With the change in course also comes new rules and regulations.

Boats have to be at the boat launch by 8:30 in the morning, and runners have to be at Camp Russell by 9. Paddlers that are driving to Richmond Pond are asked to arrive by 7:30. After 7:30, no cars will be allowed down the road from drop off, and paddlers will have to park at Camp Russell and then paddle across the pond to the town beach.

In regards to spectators, a packet distributed by Spector on Sunday night said this: "No spectators are allowed at the Town Beach or the Boat Ramp. No spectators at Camp Russell unless you need to drive a paddler or runner to the race. There is minimal parking at the camp and we need the spaces for the paddlers and runners. When driving out of Camp Russell you MUST USE CAUTION since bikers will still be coming down the road."

Also, participants and spectators are being asked to not use Lenox Mountain to go from Camp Russell to Tanglewood for the finish, and instead find an alternate route to Tanglewood.

Spector also stated that the race committee is still in need of volunteers. Volunteers are needed on race day from approximately 8 a.m. to noon, or 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Spector, who had just wrapped up a Rosh Hashanah dinner before speaking with The Eagle, said that the last 72 hours had been a drain on her and her volunteer race committee. The outpouring of help, though, allowed Spector to rest her head on Sunday night knowing that the Josh would be just fine despite the late setbacks.

"People are marvelous," Spector said. "It's just amazing."

Geoff Smith can be reached at gsmith@berkshireeagle.com, at @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.


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