Running The Ohio & Erie Canal Tow Path – Marathon, Ultra Running

6 Dec 2014, on a wet and rainy day I hit the tow path again for a 20 mile adventure on a water soaked, leaf covered, muddy, cold and windy trail.  Despite the challenging conditions, I ran across some running jewels along the way.  I’ve run a few long runs on the tow path when we have come north for our Browns games.  When hitting up the tow path for a running date, I normally park at the Brecksville station, and hit the trail running whatever my desired distance is splitting the miles between going north and south from the trail head.  For my last two long runs, 20 milers (2:46 and 2:53), I decided to venture north for 10 miles then south returning where I began.

brecksville 20(10 miles on the Ohio & Erie Canal Tow Path)

When you run 10 miles in any direction, your never sure what you’ll find.  On my run from Brecksville station the surprise waiting for me was the chance to run across two nice pedestrian suspension bridges.  I love running across bridges, old wooden ones, reconstructed ones, covered ones and shaky looking ones.  I also love running along old railways and my 10 miles north towards Cleveland presented the opportunity to run both.

tow path bridge
Along the course of the run you pass under numerous highway overpasses.  The real jewel is at about the 8 mile point when you approach the first of two towering white suspension bridges.  The bridges are approx 50ft in height and spaced about 200 yards apart.  If that was not enough for the bridge lover in you, the ten mile turn around point is underneath an active CSX railway bridge.  This monster has got to be 100ft off the ground and both times I’ve used this spot as a turn around point there have been freight trains actively crossing above me.

Ohio-and-Erie-Canal-TrailAgain if you in the neighborhood, run the Ohio & Erie Tow Path…there are jewels all along the trail.

Original Post 13 Sept 2014.

Michele and I love to travel, although we don’t go on many full blown vacations.  Instead, we choose to take a lot of “mini” weekend, three, and four day adventures.  One of the bonuses of traveling, even short trips, is seeing new sights and exploring the unique features of the areas we visit.

Towpathtrail1(Michele and I at the Brecksville Station trail head)

Whenever we get to Northeast Ohio, during football season, we make a point of running/walking on the Ohio & Erie Canal Tow Path.

Some of the history behind the tow path:  The canal and trail was originally 309 miles long and constructed in 7 years—from 1825 to 1832. The Ohio & Erie Canal was one of the longest canals ever built. It was hand dug by Irish and German immigrants, who were paid $0.30 per day.

towpathlock(One of the surviving lock systems used along the tow path)

The Towpath Trail that we use today, which follows the old canal, originally served as a path for the horses and mules pulling the canal boats. Because of this, most canal boats did not move very fast. In fact, to help prevent damage to the canal, the state even imposed a speed limit of 4 MPH—that’s the average speed most adults run. Although I run a bit faster than that.

When Michele and I run/walk the trail we begin at the Brecksville station, running either north or south.  The farthest I’ve ever run on the trail was 20 miles, 10 miles south of Brecksville where I turned around returning to the parking lot.

For more information on the Tow Path Trail, click here.

towpathtrail2(Ready to hit the trail)

When you travel, don’t take a vacation from your fitness…plan your workouts into your vacation and you’ll be amazed at the sites you’ll see.