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Yellow ribbons currently mark the path of the North Adams Walking Loop. In the spring the sidewalks will be painted with directionals.
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Amanda Chilson leads a group around the North Adams Walking Loop.

North Adams Gets Healthy With Walking Loop, Fitness Challenge

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts typically ranks in the top 10 in the category of "healthiest states in America." But a group in North Adams wants to take that to the next level in this corner of the state.

Amanda Chilson, the Mass in Motion project coordinator with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, has unveiled the new logo for the city's upcoming "Mayor's Fitness Challenge."

Designed by local businessman Keith Bona, it features a caricature of Mayor Richard Alcombright and will be the centerpiece of the challenge, which will kick off on May 2 and pit teams against each other.

More details will be announced this spring, but Chilson said teams will not only earn points for eating fruits and veggies but also for being a part of the community, like attending the annual Downtown Celebration.

Chilson has made it her goal to get people up and moving, and another way she is doing that is with the new North Adams Walking Loop. On Friday, she led a few people around the new loop, which has two "legs" — one that goes through Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and one that goes around the other direction by Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts.

Walking around the 1.6-mile MCLA loop, Chilson explained that the routes were designed to be safe, meaning there are crosswalks and sidewalks, but also to take advantage of local businesses along they way.

"We tried to get a little bit creative in that sense," she said.

While Friday's windy and slushy conditions didn't make for a lovely walk per se, Chilson envisioned what the path would look like in the spring, when more signage, maps and directions are placed along the route.

The MCLA route goes from Main Street down American Legion Drive to Ashland Street ("This is the toughest intersection," Chilson said, adding that she hoped that more people utilizing the loop would have the effect of slowing down vehicular traffic) past the Spitzer Center, where Chilson hopes to get local senior citizens involved, up Bond to Montana Street, where MCLA students have already agreed to help mark the loop as part of their annual Day of Service ("They've been awesome," she said), up Blackinton to Church Street and then along Church Street north back over to Main Street. Walkers can choose to stop here or go up Eagle Street to do the second part of the loop.

Chilson said the routes were designed to be as flat as possible in North Adams and she is also investigating ways to make it more dog-friendly.

Tags: exercise,   Mass in Motion,   walking,   

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