Press Release: 2017 THUNDERFEST Weekend Events

February 14, 2017

For Immediate Release

Serious Snow is Great News for ThunderFest

(Adams, Mass.) Many Berkshire-ites appreciate a little fresh snow, but enjoyment tends to decrease as the snow banks rise. However, the people who organize the Thunderbolt Ski Race and ThunderFest in Adams are very, very happy with our recent snowstorms. Plans laid last winter to expand ThunderFest to two days and four events were spoiled by the lack of snow, are now back on track for 2017. The 82nd anniversary Thunderbolt Ski Race on Mount Greylock and ThunderFest, the after-race celebration in downtown Adams, Mass. are scheduled for March 4. Two new races will be held on the following day. Preparations are underway at Greylock Glen for the ThunderTrek Snowshoe Race and the ThunderGlide Cross-Country Ski Race. Both of the new races are designed as community events for all ages and skill levels without the extreme challenges of the Thunderbolt.

The weekend activities begin on Saturday, March 4th with the Thunderbolt Ski Race. Up to 100 elite backcountry skiers and snowboarders will race up to the 3,491-foot summit of Mount Greylock, then down the steep and challenging Thunderbolt Trail. New for 2017 is the team category and the awarding of the first annual Greylock Cup. The Greylock Cup revives a tradition dating back to the 1930s when skiing, outing, and college clubs competed for honors on the Thunderbolt Ski Run.

The Thunderbolt is an Expert Class-A Trail,” said Matt Barlin, Thunderbolt Race Director. “Racers in top condition might make the summit in an hour and the fastest might make it down the ‘Bolt’ in about three minutes. Mark Wallace set the modern record of two minutes 45 seconds in 2014. We’ll see if someone breaks his record this year!” Spectators are welcome to watch from the finish line or along the steeper sections of the trail. No admission is charged for spectators. Because parking is very limited at Greylock Glen, spectators are strongly encouraged to use the free shuttles from Hoosac Street in Adams beginning at 9 a.m. From Greylock Glen there is about a 30 minute hike up to the finish line. Spectators may use snowshoes, skis or winter hiking boots. Hot food and beverages will be available about a mile up the trail. More information is available at

ThunderFest, the Berkshires’ biggest après ski party, will begin at noon outdoors at the Adams Visitors Center at 3 Hoosac Street. The festival features live music by Jim Witherell and the headliner Misty Blues Band. Hot food, local beer and wine, a chowder contest, horse-drawn wagon rides, outdoor recreation and craft vendors are featured. A campfire and activities for kids will also be provided. The Thunderbolt Ski Runners will present medals to the winners of this year’s race at 3 p.m. “With the addition of the new events this year, Adams is offering more than ever for lovers of outdoor winter recreation,” said Ray Gargan, co-chair of ProAdams. “Even if you’re not big on winter sports, ThunderFest is a great way to shake off your cabin fever.”

The ThunderTrek Snowshoe Race begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 5. Hosted by Dion Snowshoes of North Bennington, Vt., the five-kilometer race will be in the rolling terrain in the beautiful setting of Greylock Glen at the foot of the mountain. At noon, ThunderGlide, a classic cross-country ski race will also take place at Greylock Glen. ThunderGlide is hosted by the Capital Region Nordic Alliance, a charitable organization that offers programming for youth and veterans with special needs and disabilities. Although there will be some athletes competing hard to win, both races are also opportunities for all ages and skill levels to get out with family and friends to enjoy some exercise and fresh air. “Don’t worry,” said Bob Dion of Dion Snowshoes, “You won’t have to run up Mount Greylock! The trail is all at the base of the mountain, so just go at your own pace and have fun.” The entry fee for each race is $20 on the day of the race, free for kids age 12 or younger, and seniors of 65 or older. Veteran discounts and pre-registration discounts are also available.

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Matt Barlin 

Thunderbolt Ski Runners 


Ray Gargan

ProAdams, Inc.


Background information:

About the Thunderbolt Ski Run

With origins dating back to the 1930s, the annual race at Mount Greylock attracts intrepid backcountry skiers and snowboarders to challenge themselves and each other on the Class A trail down the state’s highest peak. Unlike ski races you’ve seen on television, there is no chair lift to the top. Participants make the trek up the mountain under their own power. Once at the top, they launch themselves down the steep, fast and narrow Thunderbolt Trail.

The Thunderbolt Ski Trail was originally cleared down the precipitous east slope of Mount Greylock in the 1930s as a public works project of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It quickly became known for the annual world-class race that attracted top skiers from across the country and Europe, even bringing a team from Nazi Germany prior to World War II. It is the last backcountry Class A trail still in existence. With the advent of ski areas, the trail fell into disrepair in the 1950s until 2008 when a group of backcountry ski and snowboard enthusiasts formed the Thunderbolt Ski Runners. These hardy men and women took it upon themselves to restore the historic ski trail and revive the race. The run is 1.6 miles in length with a vertical drop of 2,050 feet and grades as steep as 35 degrees.

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About ThunderFest and ProAdams

ProAdams, Inc. is a not-for-profit charitable organization founded in 2011 by a group of Adams residents willing to volunteer their time and expertise to help improve the town’s economic prospects. It’s mission is to “Promote and Honor the Quality and Character of Adams. Spark Growth. Create Vibrancy.” ProAdams created two signature events for Adams, ThunderFest and RambleFest. These events were designed to increase the audience and economic impact of the existing Greylock Ramble and Thunderbolt Ski Race. Enjoyed by residents as well as bringing many visitors to Adams, these events bolster the Town’s economic development strategy to position Adams as the hub of outdoor recreation in Berkshire County.

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