What is the Great Canal Walk - TR2NB40?
“Great Canal Walk”, or TR2NB40, is now a two-event distance walk primarily along the East Coast Greenway that starts at the edge of New Jersey in Trenton and ends in New Brunswick encouraging public participation. But you can still choose to walk the entire 40 miles in one day too. Most of this trail utilizes the D&R Canal towpath. Our objective is to walk 40 miles through various communities that surround urban and suburban areas in our region. This is a joint effort of individuals and pro-pedestrian organizations to build awareness of recreational resources, health and fitness, livable communities and alternative transportation options.
This is our seventh year for this event so that more walkers can participate and accomplish walking the 40 miles. An earlier "Spring Ahead Walk" (12 miles from Trenton to Princeton), traditionally takes place in March, and was used as a warm-up for "The Great Canal Walk" (40-miles from Trenton to New Brunswick) This year we're going to count the two events as the "Great Canal Walk Series" and the Great Canal Walk (this year 4/9/16) will be only from Princeton to New Brunswick (28 miles) instead. The two walks combined comprise the 40-mile TR2NB40 series and is part of the FreeWalkers' 100-mile 2017 Cross Jersey Walking Challenge.
What is the D&R Canal and how is it part of the Great Canal Walk?
The Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal is an historic recreational state park which maintains a tow path, formerly used to tow supplies by mule between major resource and industrial areas. This 125 year old man-made path was absorbed into the NJ state park system some 30 years ago and is now a popular recreational resource for walking, running, boating and biking. The towpath is a flat, wide and well-maintained trail and is shared with the East Coast Greenway. It's truly an ideal natural trail for walking a long distance.
The Great Canal Walk follows the East Coast Greenway using a major section of D&R Canal from Trenton to New Brunswick - a distance of nearly 40 miles. There is another section of the D&R that heads north from Trenton along the Delaware to Frenchtown for about 30 miles. That 30-mile section is not included in our "Great Canal Walk" event.
What is the Cross Jersey Walking Challenge and how is the Great Canal Walk part of it?
The Cross Jersey Walking Challenge is about a personal objective of walking a 100-mile route along the East Coast Greenway walking across the entire state from Trenton to New York City each year. The FreeWalkers have set the challenge and mapped out four separate walks in a given year that will accomplish that goal. This will be our sixth year offering this challenge. The two events that comprise the Great Canal Walk will be followed by a 10-mile walk from New Brunswick to Metropark, and the 50-mile "NJ2NY50 - The Big Walk" in May. There is no cost or fees for participating in all events and we encourage you to join the Cross-Jerseyt challenge each year to earn prizes and recognition as a X-Jersey walker itself. Each year to qualify you must register at http://crossjerseywalk.org to participate.
Can anyone walk the Great Canal Walk 40 miles?
Yes, the walk is open to any individual. Keep in mind that this is not a race and the main group of walkers expect to finish in 14 hours. This assumes being able to walk at a fairly brisk pace, with some rest stops along the way. That represents an average of about 3 mph. A fairly fast pace for an individual comfortable with walking is closer to 4 mph, but very few people can maintain that pace for long. Advance groups may not wait for walkers that cannot stay with the pace. Chances are excellent that you will meet walkers with a variety of experience and skill to meet your objectives.
To accommodate various skills and fitness levels, participating walkers can meet up with the walk at various designated points along the route where you might consider joining in or tailing off. We post a schedule of times where we anticipate the group will be passing various locations so you can plan ahead. You might want to consider setting a shorter walk objective of, say, 1 mile, 3 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles or 25 miles. It will be the responsibility of the walker to find transportation back to their home or starting point, although we hope to benefit again this year by the excellent support of the East Coast Greenway, which provided rides and assistance last year. The route is designed to promote the use of public transportation, such as NJ Transit trains, to assist you in getting to the event and back home.
Why are you doing this type of event?
The event provides a way for the general public to participate together in a large-scale form of exercise while visiting a variety of communities and unique areas from a closer vantage point. In utilizing an available recreational resource, we hope to demonstrate the benefit of these types of resources to the public which we hope in turn will help guide future urban/suburban planning projects. We also hope to benefit The East Coast Greenway Alliance by promoting awareness, membership and donations to support its cause of creating and maintaining a 3,000 mile greenway along the entire U.S. East coast - from Maine to Key West.
Distance walking and "pedestrianism" is as old as mankind. It is as a result of our dependence on automobiles and other forms of transportation that our society has changed the look of its communities. In more recent times, commercial business and roads have marginalized our communities and caused us to limit the use of self-propelled travel. There are health and societal implications to our past policies. Our walking events follow a national movement to consider pedestrian traffic (walking and cycling) in all community and transportation projects.
Does it cost anything to participate in the walk?
No. This walking event is open to the general public and is organized by the FreeWalkers, a free, social network of individuals interested in long distance walking and related walking events. We are supported by the ECGA and other organizations with volunteers for the sole purpose of providing a rewarding physical experience to the participants and to build awareness of pro-pedestrian issues. While the ECGA has provided some supplies to participants, walkers should be prepared by bringing their own drink, food and supplies or be prepared to pay for them along the way. We usually solicit donation at the event but donations are not required.
Sign up now for our email list to stay on top of general news about the event. To sign up as a participant you will need to register as a member of the FreeWalkers. Once registered, you may sign up as a participant for the event. Registered participants get the latest event information and will be able to set their own walking goals. After the walk, we survey participants and post results for registered walkers and and tally with others for the total miles walked that day. We expect to distribute a souvenir personalized "dog tag" for each participant who completes the survey.
Isn’t walking in urban and marginalized industrial areas dangerous? How can I be sure that I’ll be safe if I walk?
The route that is planned for the walk is the current route of the East Coast Greenway Alliance which incorporates the D&R Canal State Park. The ECGA is a well-established organization with the ambitious objective of creating a 3,000-mile multi-use trail from Maine to Florida. We will be walking almost entirely on the East Coast Greenway’s route, except for the starting and ending points. Portions of the walk are comprised of walkable paths, parks, as well as city sidewalks and commercial roads. The route along the ECG meanders through suburban nature paths, to the middle of cities, while often traversing industrial areas on the city outskirts.
The area of our route should be safe provided walkers stay on the designated route obeying traffic laws. Some of the route will be clearly marked but walkers should rely on the maps that will be provided for guidance. Since even parts of the marked route will have areas not frequented by pedestrians, all walkers are advised to use caution. Walkers who take part in this event should not walk alone if possible. Often, lead walkers are available to provide assistance at designated locations. A schedule of time and places will be posted. Walkers should always be consciously aware of their surroundings and visible to traffic. For the Great Canal Walk, near the end of the walk and after 7:30 p.m., will require a flashlight or headlamp while walking on the canal towpath due to a short amount of daylight at that time of the year.
How long does the walk take? Where do I start and finish?
The route will start from the Trenton Transit Center, (72 South Clinton Avenue) train station in Trenton, NJ for the 40-mile option or at Turning Basin park on Alexander Road in Princeton for the 28-mile option. We finish at the New Brunswick train station (French and Albany Streets) and so will be conveniently located near NJ Transit transportation for assistance. While final details are not yet available, you can expect the first 40-mile walkers to begin at 7:00 a.m. This should accommodate the first train from New York/Newark/Metropark to Trenton arriving at 6:44 a.m. We expect the lead group to finish in about 14 hours (assuming breaks along the way). If you would like to walk a shorter distance we will have various other opportunities to join in along the route as mentioned above.
What if I can’t make it all the way?
Walkers should plan in advance. They should know train stations that are located along their route. The D&R Canal Park offers many areas to park and join in or leave the walk, assuming you have arranged for a car or someone to meet you. We'll poll participants prior to the walk for logistics in sharing rides. We expect the East Coast Greenway staff to provide car assistance if a walker cannot finish their selected distance and contacts our support team. But, we strongly advise that you have a contingency plan to call someone you can rely on to pick you up if you need assistance as a back-up plan. Remember, that walking 40 miles is a difficult physical task that requires a great deal of stamina. If in doubt, you should consider one of our shorter distance goals and have a contingency plan.
What happens if it rains or we experience other bad weather conditions?
There is no rain date set for this event at this time. The event may be cancelled if the weather is bad. At this time of the year, heavy rain may cause a cancellation. Check back at the event website TR2NB40.org or FreeWalkers.org for final details near the day of the event. We'll also keep in touch right to the last minute via email.
I’m not used to walking that long a distance. How can I train for the event?
While we expect many serious amateur athletes that already walk, run for recreation or even do marathons and triathlons, there are very few that have taken on this type of challenge. The main difference in a distance walk is the length of time and the number of repetitious steps. Most marathoners will complete a run in less than 5 hours. While walking is a much less intense form of exercise, this is nearly two times the distance, three times the length of time and many more times the footsteps. The most common reason to not complete the distance is exhaustion and/or blisters and foot problems. These can be avoided by proper hydration, nutrition and carefully considering the right shoes. Even so, walking this distance is a difficult task. An adult in good physical shape, perhaps as a recreational runner, should be able to complete at least 25 miles.
For a 40-mile walk, the best form of training is to practice walking by starting a planned program of walking near your home and slowly building, week by week, to at least a 25 mile loop. There is specific information on training for the event available on this website under "Tips" and look for more information in the weeks ahead. But, until then, why not start walking now?
Who do I contact to find out more and to keep up to date as the event progresses?
Visit this website http://TR2NB40.org for the most current information about the walk specifically under the "Contact Us" Section
Be sure to sign up for the NJ2NY50 email newsletter on the home page. This will provide you with ongoing current information.
For general questions on the event email info@TR2NB40.org.
East Coast Greenway Alliance Contacts:
For specific questions about the route and the East Coast Greeenway:
Website - http://www.greenway.org
Other supporting organizations have lots of useful information on walking, pedestrian issues, and existing trails which you can walk to practice for the event. See the "Links" section of this website for more information