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First Connecticut River Triathlon Welcomes Racers on Sept. 28

NORTHFIELD — The only town in Massachusetts located on both sides of the fourth-largest river in the U.S., Northfield will be the scene of the first annual Great River Challenge Triathlon. The event will begin on Sunday, Sept. 28 at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center’s riverfront park and extensive trail system located on Route 63.

Classified as a ‘non-traditional’ triathlon because it involves paddling rather than swimming, the Great River Challenge will be the first event of its kind in the Upper Pioneer Valley to use the broad Connecticut River. The Northfield Mountain recreational facility offers a number of advantages for racers and spectators, including a comfortable lodge, convenient parking, and a food-vendor area, amenities that most other race locations lack.

The race features a canoe/kayak/SUP leg, a trail run, and an off-road mountain-bike leg on scenic Northfield Mountain. The paddle leg will be a mass start from the center’s riverfront park, paddling out and back and around Captain Kidd’s Island over 5.2 miles. The running leg is a challenging 3.5 miles of single-track trails and groomed trails, followed by a 6.5-mile mountain-bike ride on mixed single-track and open trails.

Individuals and two-, three-, and four-person teams are welcome, and there is a junior division. Registrations start at $65 for individuals, with discounts for teams and half price for junior competitors (age 20 and under), plus a small sign-up fee at runsignup.com. Detailed information about the race, pre-registration and on-site registration, and pre-race activities can be found at www.greatriverchallenge.com.

Organizer David Thomas — an athlete, coach, and owner of Stellar Kayaks in Northfield — expects 150 racers and 500 spectators at the first of what he hopes will be an annual event. “We are excited to launch this event in Northfield, showcasing the unusual beauty and abundant natural features we have here, from the river to the surrounding mountains,” he said. Proceeds from the event will support Northfield Kiwanis programs for children and needy families and visitor programs produced by the Northfield Area Tourism Assoc.

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