43rd Annual Josh Billings Triathlon, Sunday, September 15, 2019

Racers on bicycles going around corner on asphalt road

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The 43rd Annual Josh Billings Triathlon returns to the Berkshires on Sunday, September 15th. This fun-for-the-whole family event attracts hundreds of triathletes and spectators every year, as it has since its inception in 1976. Noted as being the second oldest paddle triathlon in the world, the event embodies its namesake’s philosophy of “to finish is to win.”

Who is Josh Billings you ask? Known as a down-home humorist, Josh Billings is the pen name for Henry Wheeler Shaw, son of congressman Henry Shaw. A contemporary of Mark Twain, Billings was a popular funny man, author, and lecturer famous in the late 19th century for his commonsense wit and practical words of wisdom. Among his oft-quoted witticisms, “Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well” and “There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness”.

Much loved in the hill towns of western Massachusetts, Billings’ wit and wisdom are the chief reasons the triathlon is named for him. The fun-loving event takes pride in being not too serious and mimics the humorists proclamation that “the rarest thing a man ever duz iz (sic) the best he can”.

500 teams register for this annual event that begins with a 27-mile bike ride through rolling hills and majestic scenery from Great Barrington, MA to the Stockbridge Bowl in Stockbridge, MA, where riders hand off their wrist bands to awaiting team members. Paddlers climb aboard canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to circumnavigate the 5-mile lake course and meet up with the runners waiting on the beach for their leg. The 6-mile final run around the lake ends at the main gate of the Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, MA where they will be greeted by friends and family along with thousands of supportive fans.

Race day begins at 9:30 AM on Sunday, followed by the Josh Billings Kids’ Race on the grounds of Tanglewood. Proceeds from the event are donated to the Berkshires United Way.

To participate in this fun event, gather your team together and register online. And don’t forget to book your room at the Staveleigh House Bed and Breakfast for the weekend of September 14-15, 2019.