Chalemont, Massachusetts has yet to be listed as one of the “Best Places to Live” by Outside Magazine, or some other well-known glossy publication. But this March 31st, Berkshire East and Zoar Outdoor are teaming up to organize an event that, in combing multiple outdoor elements, suggests this little Valley town stacks up quite well with the big boys.
The first annual Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon combines the seemingly multi-seasonal outdoor disciplines of running, biking, kayaking, hiking, and skiing into one gigantic day of adventure competition that gives a whole new meaning to “March Madness.”
“It may be a bit cold for road biking and kayaking, and bit warm for skiing, but where else can you do it all on the same day?” they ask. Answer: Charlemont, Massachusetts, in late March.
“With the Deerfield River meandering through the lowlands, [Chalemont] is the home to two canopy tour zip line operators, a Nordic Ski-Touring Center, three whitewater rafting companies, an alpine ski resort, and miles and miles of barely broken in hiking and biking trails too numerous to name,” note the race’s organizers. “While poets and painters have spun glory upon these wending pathways for generations, and fishers and hunters communed with it’s wilds, only recently have four season people-powered outdoor sports enthusiasts found their inspiration in significant numbers.”
The first leg of the race is the run, which leaves from the parking lot of the Berkshire East Ski Area, meandering into the hills for close to 5 miles, before reaching Zoar Outdoor. Here the 23-mile bike portion will wind its way down Route 2, then up into Rowe, passed Pelham Lake, across the Monroe Bridge, and back down to the Zoar Gap Picnic Area. Then the kayak portion heads back to Charlemont, downriver for 5 miles through Class I and II whitewater. Finally, runners/hikers will leave from the banks of the Deerfield River, carrying skis, snowshoes, skins, or whatever gear may be appropriate or desired for this year’s late March race day, making their way to the top of the Berkshire East Ski Area, where they will then step or strap into their skis, and race right back down the mountain, to the base lodge finish line.
Registration is $350 for a team of five (must be co-ed), $150 for a team of two, and $80 for the extremely ambitious “Highlander Brave Heart Lassies/Laddies” among us. There are a variety of other registration options as well.
Included in the registration is a pint of Berkshire Brewing Company beer, a wood-fired pizza, and the simple satisfaction of participating in this communal celebration of outdoor adventure in The Valley.
Proceeds will support the Highlands Communities Initiative Program of the Trustees of Reservations, and The Franklin Land Trust.