Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More C+O Canal...and Ultrarunning

Lock by Gary
Remains of downstream gate of Lock 41, abandoned here since 1924

This national treasure is a 184 mile long National Park corridor along the Potomac River from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD.

Quick history lesson:  In the 1830s folks wanted to move freight cheaply.  Railroads weren't around yet, and the Potomac River was not deep enough along its entire length to support large boats.  So someone had the brainy idea to basically dig a ditch right beside the river, fill it with water and engineer a remarkable system of lift locks, dams, aqueducts, etc., to keep the Canal watered and navigable.  Large boats carrying tons of freight proved to be a viable venture for some 90 years.

The towpath where the mules walked to pull the canal boats has been restored along its entire 184 mile length, so that's where you actually run.  It's like a flat gravel road through the woods.

The link to Ultrarunning is this: the venerable JFK 50 Miler uses some 26 miles of the Canal towpath.  I hear many runners say things like "The towpath is SO boring, totally flat, seems like forever, blah blah blah..."

I think, "You're nuts.  You're running in the woods beside a major scenic river.  You see remarkable examples of historic engineering architecture.  Plus the wildlife and plant life." 

I go to the Canal when I need my running batteries recharged, when I need a dose of long slow running pleasure. 

We all have those special spots that work for us.  Go to yours real soon.


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