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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > the third annual mass dash relay, mount greylock to boston harbor--200 miles for dana-farber and the jimmy fund

The Third Annual Mass Dash Relay, Mount Greylock to Boston Harbor--200 Miles for Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund
This is a relay for good! In the first two years the event has raised over $200,000 for Dana-Farber. Passionate, engaged runners and volunteers by the hundreds will once again enjoy an outstanding course as 12 runners split 36 legs from the Berkshires to Boston, mountains to the sea, through state parks and storied college campuses, scenic wonders and picturesque towns and villages on July 14 and 15, 2012.

The Third Annual Mass Dash Relay, Mount Greylock to Boston Harbor--200 Miles for Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund

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Active Running

By Skip Cleaver
Posted Thursday, 8 March, 2012

This is all about the passionate runners and volunteers who are committed to this event and to the cause--raising funds to fight cancer. The third annual Mass Dash Relay will begin at the foot of Mount Greylock, climb that storied mountain, the highest point in Massachusetts, and continue over 200 miles across the state to the shadow of the John F. Kennedy Library, the UMass Boston campus on the shore of Boston Harbor. This event is different in many ways, and don't forget that it is limited to only 100 teams because of course safety and logistics, so those who want to participate in this challenge need to begin planning and getting teams lined up now.

This relay is very special, and unique in the field of proliferating overnight relays. Founder and Race Director Bruce Leshine and his outstanding Race Committee have created an event for runners, but it is so much more than that. This event is an athletic challenge combined with a passion to do good, and teams have embraced it. Many of them want to return for two challenges: speed across the state faster than before, but more importantly raise more money in 2012. The event is hoping for well over $100,000 to be donated to Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund; the first two years they exceeded $100,000 each year. We discussed this with three of the top fundraisers' team captains, all passionate to return for another go, another adventure, another exhilarating feeling of crossing that line and experiencing that indescribable passion for the sport and for the continuing fight against cancer.

Team Y - the Crew from the Woo
Heidi Parthena White is the Captain of this group, most of whom work out at the Worcester, Massachusetts YMCA. Heidi is an active runner who participates in many races; she and her teammates were looking for a different challenge. They found it in the Mass Dash, first overnight relay for her and most of her team. Heidi points out that everyone knows someone battling cancer, and after telling friends in their Y running group of their success, they will be bringing at least one other team for 2012. Close friends and running buddies get even closer.

As for why they will be returning, Heidi had this to say, "The race was incredibly enjoyable, from the camaraderie at the start to the band at the school to the well marked routes and the constant cheering, smiling faces. Even the local police were enthusiastic and helpful. Everything about this race was positive, upbeat, supportive, and fun."

Asked what her most enjoyable experience was, "Probably nothing you want to print. At 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, the true divas showed their true colors. Yes, I’m one of them. We loved jumping into the lake at our changeover." And then she added, "We absolutely loved running into the finish line in such a celebratory fashion. We loved meeting new people and dancing with them on the common. Best part of the whole event for our team though, the amount of money we raised to kick cancer’s ass. And we expect to blow that number away in 2012."

Kara's Cancer Crushers
This team was led by Captain Karen Sutherland of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Karen was part of the inaugural and decided to head up a team to honor their friend, Kara Armstrong, who lost her battle with cancer last year at age 43. She had spent many days at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and, Karen stated, "We are happy that we can raise money for such a wonderful place that took such care of our friend." They constantly drew inspiration form Kara's memory. As a teammate was running in the early morning hours, "He looked to the sky and asked Kara for strength and inspiration to finish the race and as he did a shooting star shot through the night sky. He knew Kara was looking down upon us and we finished the race to be greeted by Kara's family," she said. Karen is an experienced road racer and marathoner, and Kara's Cancer Crushers will return on July 14-15, 2012.

Sophia's Cancer Crushers
The second cancer crusher team is headed by Mike Blanchette of Agawam, Massachusetts, an avid runner and father of nine-year-old cancer survivor Sophia. He first got involved as a volunteer van driver, and this is his only experience as a major relay runner. Mike says recruiting was easy for 2011 and 2012. "I have already registered Sofia's Cancer Crushers to run again in 2012. I am running because I truly believe in the meaningful purpose behind the Mass Dash to raise awareness and money in pursuit of a cure to 'crush' cancer and give those a chance to enjoy their lives cancer-free," he stated.

"As far as recruiting my team for 2011, quite frankly, it was easy. I am fortunate to be part of the law enforcement community that is blessed with great people that have an overwhelming sense of duty to serve others and their communities, so these same people approached me after Mass Dash 2010 and expressed interest to run for Sofia's Cancer Crushers in Mass Dash 2011. In fact, there are even more friends that have approached me since Mass Dash 2011 that are looking to be a part of (an additional team) for Mass Dash 2012, he said. "There were so many wonderful experiences throughout the entire Mass Dash, but without a doubt, the most memorable experience was running across the finish line as a team with family and friends cheering us on, including daddy's little girl, Sofia," he concluded.

It's All About the Runners, the Challenge and the Charity
The Mass Dash Relay 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 the sponsors. It runs on Saturday and Sunday so most participants don’t have to take a day off 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. Bruce Leshine and Committee constantly strive make it even better, including the legs through Williamsburg, Northampton, Charlton, Millbury, Newton and Brookline. They have added 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 for details.

This very successful, very scenic overnight relay across Massachusetts is expected to grow in 2012, but will be limited to only 100 teams for safety reasons. The 2010 inaugural raised over $103,000 and the 2011 event topped $105,000 for Dana-Farber, and organizers hope to increase that number this year while doubling the fun for all runners and volunteers. There are some changes to make a beautiful route even better, and there are other enhancements and partnerships that will benefit all participants.

Your team will race across Massachusetts, and raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute!
Again, the 2012 Mass Dash will run July 14 and 15, 2012; and registration is now open at

Registration Can Be Free
Mass Dash is now offering the following REGISTRATION AND FUNDRAISING INCENTIVE: If your Team raises $3,000 or more for the Jimmy Fund, they will fully refund your Team’s Registration Fee! It’s their way to thank you for working hard to raise awareness and funds for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the fight against cancer, the whole purpose of this relay. Raise $3,000 or more ($250 per runner), and your team’s registration in the Mass Dash is “on us.” Relay registration will remain open to the first 100 teams, so don't delay.

Great Course, Terrific Experience
The course is challenging, but it easily accommodates a variety of participants from beginners to experienced 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. Some of the tough ones are elevation challenges—up and down--and some are rated tough because of distance. But the legs are reasonable. 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 experience: Registration and fundraising modules through will make administration and fundraising easier.
There is a lot of information on the event Website, including general details and process for planning, contact information, 2010 and 2011 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 for details. Although all volunteer, they have created a very professional, well organized event.

Covering 200 Miles, Running 36 legs
Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund are important for every runner. This is the time to make your running mean something more. You can dramatically increase the value of every mile your team runs. It is a great feeling to know that you can give something back through the sport you love. Set your team goals—pace and time as well as fundraising--and lend a helping hand in the fight against cancer simply by doing something you enjoy.

Spread the word, gather your friends; get your club involved. Everyone will want to participate in this priceless experience, making a difference in the lives of individuals battling cancer. There is no better inspiration and motivation for maintaining or increasing your running goals than the satisfaction and joy of knowing that your effort will enable Dana-Farber researchers to achieve better cure rates and enhance the quality of life for many cancer patients.

This is an ideal time to redefine your personal best by combining personal fitness goals and commitment to a healthy lifestyle with a meaningful, worthwhile cause. Explore new territory, not just on these 200 miles of Massachusetts roads, but within yourself. Reach beyond what you thought possible for yourself as well as for those in the determined fight to reach the ultimate finish line--a cure for cancer.

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.

This race was created to honor the memory of standout western Massachusetts businessman and runner Neal Webber who loved relays and was involved in the creation and planning for the Mass Dash before he lost his battle with cancer in October of 2008.

The Route—Variety in Terrain and Scenery
There are several overriding themes with this course: beautiful state lands, natural beauty throughout, historical locations, structures, locations and organizations; and institutions of higher learning—some of which host relay points or handoffs.
The Mass Dash begins at the Mount Greylock Visitor’s Center near Onota and Pontoosuc Lakes in Lanesboro. The first two legs climb Mount Greylock (elevation 3,491). The first heads up the south flank via Rockwell Road, and the second climbs the remaining 1,100 feet to the summit, crossing the Appalachian Trail with the second handoff at the War Memorial Beacon and Bascom Lodge. On a clear day you can see for miles from the summit, including mountains in four states.

Scenic Experience-Day, Night, Day
The first three legs are partly or fully within the Mount Greylock State Reservation; it then goes through the Western Heritage State Park only a few miles from the New York border. Other state lands along the route include the Savoy Mountain State Forest and the Mohawk Trail State Forest, South River State Forest, Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation, near the Connecticut River Greenway State Park; Mount Holyoke Range State Park; the Quabbin Reservoir; the Quaboag River and Pond Wildlife Management area; and Whitehall, Hopkinton, and Ashland State Parks; and as mentioned they have added DAR State Forest and Wells State Park. Along this same theme, though not state lands, the next to last leg runs through the Arnold Arboretum, and the final leg through Franklin Park.

Institutions of higher learning along the route abound, beginning with the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams (fourth leg) and the adjacent Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Runners will visit four of the “Five Colleges”, running through Smith College and downtown Northampton on Saturday evening, and including a bon fire, pizza, fruit and cookies, and live music and at UMass Amherst (at McGuirk Alumni Stadium) on Saturday night at the halfway point on finishing leg 18, compliments of Mass Dash Race Partners Dominos Pizza and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Then a run through Amherst College and another handoff at Hampshire College; the last one, Mt. Holyoke College is not far away. Runners will also pass Wellesley College on Sunday. There are many elementary schools and secondary schools along the way used as relay points, and the Mass Dash ends at UMass Boston on Columbia Point at the edge of the Boston Harbor.

Other route highlights include running along a great stretch of the Deerfield River and the Quabbin Reservoir, where runners will traverse the Winsor Dam in the moonlight. One leg tours storied Hopkinton and the first two miles of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon; other legs include many beautiful forests, ponds, fields, rivers and streams.

On Sunday enjoy a “mid-night” breakfast served by the Knights of Columbus in Ware. Experience a great finish line party, complete with live music, eats and the beers and ales of Mass Dash Race Partner Opa-Opa Brewing Company of Southampton and Williamsburg, Massachusetts! The natural beauty of Massachusetts and its many lovely regions—Berkshires to Sea--will be on display. Information is available at:

Why! Why Run Mass Dash Relay?
Here is what participant and Team Captain Heidi Parthena White had to say, "Do you want to experience one of the most beautiful, inspirational, awe-inspiring and yes, physically challenging races of your life? Do you want to raise funds for cancer research where you know that 100% of those funds are going directly to charity? Do you want to experience joy, pain, exhilaration, sweat, laughter, tears, and freedom while feeling the most amazing sense of accomplishment? Our whole team said that we wished we could run the race again the very next weekend. We started planning for 2012 as our feet crossed the finish line. We were told we had too much energy and were having too much fun. And I think we finished last! It’s not about being the fastest. It’s about living life to the fullest — and to help others do so by supporting cancer research. JOIN US. It is the experience of a lifetime." And we cannot say it better than that.



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