The Mass Dash Relay--Running Across Massachusetts for the Jimmy Fund

This very successful, very scenic overnight relay across Massachusetts is expected to grow tremendously in 2011, and will be limited to only 100 teams for safety reasons. It is definitely the New England relay to run this summer. The 2010 inaugural raised over $103,000 for Dana-Farber and organizers hope to double that number this year while doubling the fun for all runners and volunteers in the Mass Dash. Several changes in legs make a beautiful route even better this time, and there are other enhancements and partnerships that will benefit all participants.

This relay is different in many ways, but here are some of the top ones: It is organized and administered by an all volunteer group, not a commercial enterprise; it is set up exclusively to benefit Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund and all proceeds go to the cause thanks to title sponsors Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and Kittredge Equipment; it runs on Saturday and Sunday so most participants don't have to take a day off from work; the goal is to provide the most scenic course and the most enjoyable running experience possible for all participants. Teams can be mixed, all men, all women, (open and masters), ultra (6 members) or corporate.

It is a truly extraordinary relay route and the scenery is terrific. Several course changes will make it even better, including new legs through Williamsburg, Northampton, Charlton, Millbury, Newton and Brookline. They have added two new state parks, including the DAR State Forest (and Upper Highland Lake for swimming), and Wells State Park (near famous Sturbridge and including Walker Pond). Check out the legs with distance listings and maps at www.massdashrelay.org for details.

The course is challenging, but it easily accommodates a variety of participants from beginners to experienced distance runners. Of the 36 total legs there are 11 that are four miles or under; 21—the bulk of them by far—are in the 5 to 7-mile range; and four are over 7 miles. Individual runners on standard teams will run between 14.3 and 20.5 total miles for their three legs. Teams can assign legs in any sequence and combination. One third of the 36 are rated "easy"; one third are listed as "moderate", and one third "tough". Some of the tough ones are elevation challenges—up and down--and some are rated tough because of distance. But the legs are reasonable lengths. The majority of the "tough legs" are in the first third of the course.

In addition to the course enhancements they have made some other changes to add to the total experience: New registration and fundraising modules through Active.com will make administration and fundraising easier. And there are new race partners, including Opa-Opa Brewing Company, Marathon Sports, J. Polep, and Dominos Pizza. Returning sponsor partners include the Ruth K. and Ralph G. Webber Foundation and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

There is a lot of information on the event Website, including general details and process for planning, contact information, 2010 results, photos, fundraising information, news, a bulletin board, beneficiary information; route information including terrific descriptions and maps, directions, and a great description (with links) to points of interest on or near the course. So check out www.massdashrelay.org for details. They have created a very professional, well organized event.

Covering 200 Miles, Running 36 legs
The Mass Dash is challenging, but oh so much fun! With up to 12-person teams, on a sweet summer weekend--this is THE relay for those who love running and are motivated by running for a great cause. And you don't need to be a veteran runner to do it. Whether your first relay or 100th, the feeling of accomplishment and contribution to this cause will inspire all. Teams will enjoy the camaraderie that only a distance relay can bring; and will proudly recall helping the Jimmy Fund and the work of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, while building memories and friendships for a lifetime. What a celebration when you cross that finish line!

Volunteers will also have a wonderfully unique experience and contribute to a great cause. This is a community adventure for all, and an experience in teamwork and camaraderie that is hard to match in any other sphere or athletic endeavor. The dual goals of reaching Boston Harbor and raising thousands of needed dollars to fight this insidious disease have teams already motivated and raring to go. Some corporate teams will use this as a tremendous team building exercise worth many times the modest entry fees.

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