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42nd Annual Sam Gomez Race Goes Virtual

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Sam Gomez 5K road race is on for this weekend to benefit the Elizabeth Freeman Center. 
With COVID-19 limiting the way people can interact, one would think a road race would certainly be out of the question.
But Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Student Government Organization, the race organizers, found a creative solution.
"We saw that some other races around the country and in the Berkshires had made their races virtual and were inspired to make our race virtual as well," Student Government Association members Fabby Street and Megan Bantle said in a joint email. "This way we can still advertise our amazing sponsors who invested in the race and still host a community-oriented event for the MCLA community while we are off-campus."
The Sam Gomez Road Race is in its 42nd year and is one of the oldest races in Berkshire County. Sam Gomez was a professor at what was then North Adams State College, and founded the college's cross country team.
Street and Bantle noted that they did not want to completely cancel another event when so much of the academic year has already been compromised by the novel coronavirus pandemic. So they adapted and instead of having one 5-kilometer race, runners and walkers have from Thursday, April 30, at 7 p.m. until Sunday, May 3, at 7 p.m. to run their race.
No registration is required and runners are just asked to send a picture of themselves out on their own race day to They will then receive an e-certificate.
These photos will be posted on the MCLA Student Government Facebook page and website.
Racers are also encouraged to post photos to social media with #virtualsamgomez. Members of the SGA hope this will connect people digitally. 
"Folks are encouraged to use this race as part of their spring training, but we will not be collecting times or posting them. This is more a community challenge to have as many people as possible participate and connect through social media for one large cause. This can also be used for someone to go out and challenge themselves individually through physical activity," the students wrote.
Participants can run anywhere. MCLA students currently no longer on campus are encouraged to join in wherever they may be.
"The MCLA Student Government and staff felt like it was really important to bring as much of the vibrant MCLA community life as possible to students and community members, even while people are not on campus. We are hoping that maintaining MCLA traditions, like the Sam Gomez Road Race, which is over four decades old, will give students a sense of normalcy and help them to remember that the community they have here at MCLA hasn't gone away."
The event is free but part of MCLA Women's Center's Virtual Take Back the Night event and donations will be accepted for the Elizabeth Freeman Center, which offers shelter and support to victims of domestic violence and assault in Berkshire County.
"Despite being isolated physically, participants will all be contributing by either donating or raising awareness for the amazing work that the Elizabeth Freeman Center does to address domestic and sexual violence in Berkshire County," the Street and Bantle wrote. 
Donations can be made here.
The SGA members thanked their sponsors and felt that being outside can only improve things during these uncertain times.
"We believe that spending time outside and moving your body are both great ways to maintain a routine and help your mental health while at home. We also understand that not everyone has access to the outdoors at this time, but encourage people to do what they can!"

Tags: 5k,   MCLA,   

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North Adams School Officials See Plans for Brayton Hill Improvements

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The dangerous entrance to the Northern Berkshire Family YMCA is going to be reconstructed to make it safer for children walking to school. 
The $622,000 project is part of the state Department of Transportation's Safe Routes to School initiative and is being funded through the Transportation Improvement Program.
It will include revamping the steep entrance on the west side of Brayton School and the YMCA and adding in sidewalks and other improvements. 
The public schools outreach coordinator Emily Schiavoni said the school district and Northern Berkshire Community Coalition have been partners in the program since 2016. The two entities applied in 2019 to the Safe Routes to Schools program for Brayton and were accepted.
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