For almost a decade now the Steel Rail Races held in Berkshire County have brought runners near and far to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. This year, race founders and organizers Kent and Shiobbean Lemme, owners of Berkshire Running Center, have announced the addition of a full marathon, which will serve as a Boston Marathon qualifying course.

The announcement of the return and expansion of the popular bi-annual races comes as Berkshire Running Center celebrates 10 years of serving the running community and beyond, and newly forged partnership with the City of Pittsfield and Mountain One Financial.

The City of Pittsfield and Mayor Tyer have partnered with BRC to not only expand the Steel Rail Races, but to also expand the annual Thankful 5k, which for it’s 7th year will be held on Small Business Saturday, bringing the event to Downtown Pittsfield. The event is a fundraiser for local food pantries in the city and is traditionally held on Thanksgiving morning. The change in date hopes to be a huge economic diver for downtown the kickoff weekend of the holiday shopping season.

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After a year absent due to the pandemic, the Steel Rail Races will return October 3, and then on May 15, 2022. The May 2022 event is tentatively planned to be the ribbon cutting of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail expansion into Pittsfield. These events will include an 8k, half marathon and marathon distances, with the 26.2 mile race serving as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

Once the new Pittsfield extension of the rail trail is complete, the course will by certified by Boston Marathon officials and course information will be released. Currently plans are a little different than years past. The marathon will start in Pittsfield turn around in Adams and come back for a Pittsfield finish, while the half marathon will start two hours after from the Adams end in Pittsfield as well. Registration tentatively opens July 1.

The Steel Rail Race series that not only serves as a fundraiser for the maintenance and preservation of the expanding county rail trail, but also brings elite and recreational runners to the area. The addition of the Boston qualifier will only add to the number of participants as runner's seek a highly sought after entrance to the prestigious marathon.

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