In honor of the 30th anniversary Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, the PMC blog will take you on a ride through history. Today we continue 30 years in 30 weeks with a look back at the PMC in 1983. We’ll coast through the event’s history, featuring a new year each week, as we lead up to the 30th annual ride on Aug. 1 and 2.
Check out past 30 Years in 30 weeks posts here.
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30 years in 30 weeks
The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge in 1983 was hot. Even though it was the second weekend of September, the temperatures during the ride soared: 98 degrees on Saturday and 96 degrees on Sunday.
The two-day ride grew 18 percent, to 291 riders. But the amount raised was a whopping $100,000 – a 67 percent increase over the year before. It was a sure sign to Billy Starr that he was on the right track with his push for fundraising.
People along the PMC route began to take notice and get involved.
The Kupu family of Bradford volunteered to staff waterstop 4. They brought the South Pacific flare of their homeland to the event and introduced what is now a PMC tradition – themed waterstops. The Kupus, dressed in colorful island costumes, turned the water stop into a tropical oasis with homemade palm trees, volcanoes and other artifacts. It was a must see along the route.
Jacqui Kupu, Pita, her husband and native of Tonga; and their then four-year-old daughter Melena, brought a new level of enthusiasm to waterstop cheerleading, according to a 10-year retrospective book published in 1990.
Jacqui Kupu was also the first to introduce peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the event, which have become a PMC staple.
As the fun of the PMC grew, so did the fundraising.
By 1983, Charlie Larsen had distinguished himself as the PMC’s leading fundraiser. His first PMC in 1981, Larsen raised $6,000. He was the top fundraiser from 1981 all the way through 1987, and his heavy hitter commitment continues today.
Larsen’s young son David was undergoing radiation treatment for cancer when Larsen first heard of the PMC.
“When you’re not a great rider, you have to have other skills,” Larsen says now. “We lived in Connecticut at the time and I was well aware of The Jimmy Fund. When you are going through something you fight back, but there is little you can do – so I decided to ride and raise a bunch of money.”
Larsen was portfolio manager and had some “very generous” friends, he said, who were eager to help join the cancer fight in honor of David.
Larsen recalls many memories of the PMC – including getting heat stroke in 1983.
“I remember all the times we got lost, running out of hamburgers and not having a room at Mass Maritime one year,” Larsen recalls from his first years in the PMC. “Once there was a guy riding one of those antique bikes with a huge wheel and only one gear. It must have weighed 75 pounds. And the guy smoked most of the time he rode. He only made it to the first water stop, but how he went 20+ miles on that thing was a miracle!”
Larsen’s son David would ultimately beat his cancer and later join dad for four PMCs. Larsen’s daughters, Laura and Erica, are 10-year and 5-year riders, respectively.
Below are some pictures from 1983, courtesy of PMC Yearbooks.
PMC 1983 Facts
Event Date: Sept. 10 and 11
$350 fundraising minimum for two-day ride