2021 Canalway Challengers Discover the Best of the Canalway Corridor

Mary Davis and Anne Sabo, 360-mile End-to-Enders

Thousands of people from around the country are walking, running, cycling, and paddling the canals and Canalway Trail in 2021 as part of the Canalway Challenge. Along the way, they are discovering the remarkable history, hometown hospitality, and unique local flavors that make the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor such a special place.

As part of the Challenge, participants set a personal mileage goal and then enjoy as many trail trips as needed to complete it. Unlike 2020, when participants stayed closer to home and 15 miles was a popular goal, this year’s challengers are racking up the regions from Buffalo to Albany and achieving 360-Mile End-To-End status in droves.

Thank you, New York, for creating the path(s) to absorb and appreciate the history and significance of the Erie Canal. As cyclists, we were welcomed at each town campground with hospitality, generosity and usually a shower! This experience was a welcome antidote the pandemic-related confinement of the past year.

Jane N. 360-mile End-to-Ender

While the 2021 final tally will not be complete until December, here are a few notable achievements:

  • 34% of participants signed up for 360 Miles in 2021, compared with 22% in 2020. The next most popular mileage goal is 90 Miles.
  • Finishers logged 182,000 miles so far in 2021.
  • Cycling is by far the most popular activity with 69% of Canalway Challenge finishers completing some or all their mileage by cycling.
  • Buffalo to Rochester is the most frequently visited region, followed by Little Falls to Albany.
  • 77 people are taking advantage of the new 1st Mile Challenge, designed to welcome people with disabilities to Canalway Challenge.

Behind the numbers, as always, are moving stories and incredible achievements. Here are a few that are sure to inspire you:

After 30 years of not biking, this challenge motivated me to get my bike tuned up and challenge myself. This is just what I needed! I’m very anxious to explore other parts of the state. My original thought was to kayak, but I switched to my bike and quickly realized how much I missed it. What a wonderful thing to have this trail

Nancy W., 90-Miler

Lily Katzman, 360-mile End-to-Ender

A friend passed away last year of cancer and I wanted to do a memorial ride and fundraiser for his family and this is what I came up with. 360 Canal miles in 4 days! Incidentally the fundraiser topped $4000! I enjoyed the opportunity to help the family of a close friend while doing something I love.”

Larry C., 360-Mile End-to-Ender

The trail is much more varied than I expected. The towns, route, trail surface, canal, and scenery all evolve and change to provide interesting surprises day after day. They say the best parts are the people you meet. You can believe that. Every day, without fail, provided interaction with friendly, happy, like-minded individuals, couples and groups excited to talk about their adventures.

Paul T., NY, 360-Mile End-to-Ender

To learn more or get involved, visit www.CanalwayChallenge.org 

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