Run for the Canal!

‘Tis the season for backyard naps in the hammock and watching fireflies, for slowing down and setting an easier pace. But this summer I will permit myself an exception. On the morning of June 27th, come rain or shine, I’ll get up early, lace up my sneakers and head down to Lock 60 for the Schuylkill River Trail Run. On this five-mile race along the banks of the Schuylkill River and Canal, along with runners of all ages, I will wind my way through the ravine and bluffs in Upper Providence Township and across several water crossings that span the beautiful natural terrain of the River’s edge, and back to St. Michael’s Park, where I will do a victory dance for crossing the finish line in one piece.

If you’re like me, you might need a seriously compelling reason to give up a few glorious hours of this first official weekend of summer for a little five-mile jog in the woods. This isn’t a sacrifice I would make for just anyone. But to be sure, the cause is a worthy one. My $17 entry fee for the big event (or $22 if I wait to register on Race Day) – in fact, my very presence among the great sea of runners to gather at the starting line – go to support the work of the Schuylkill Canal Association, an organization that makes a tremendous contribution to the historic beauty and quality of living in Phoenixville and surrounding area.

The Schuylkill River Trail Run is an annual SCA tradition. As Executive Director for the Association, Betsy Daley, put it, “It’s a way people can become aware of this great recreational and historical resource in their own back yard, and to help us preserve and maintain the Canal.” The preservation and maintenance of the waterway is no small task. The undertaking includes the restoration of the Canal’s locks and gates, upkeep of the grounds and public trails, and coordination of volunteers who greet visitors at the Locktender’s House and help make information about the Canal’s history available to the community.

If it’s the thrill of competition you’re seeking on Race Day, and not just the satisfaction of giving something back, you’re in luck. Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in six different age brackets. T-shirts and other giveaways will also go to the first 100 entrants. And those of you for whom the very thought of taking on such a grueling physical challenge borders on the masochistic, don’t worry. You won’t be left out of all the fun. The Schuylkill River Trail Run is only the kick-off event for the 28th Annual Canal Day, an entire day of festivities at Lock 60 and St. Michael’s Park in Mont Clare, to feature a staggering number of unique activities and attractions.

This is a day not to be missed – a true community-wide gathering where people come together and celebrate each other’s efforts to enrich our town and our lives. Festival attendance is expected to exceed 3,000, but just as noteworthy is the number of area organizations, businesses, volunteers, artisans and musicians that are supporting Canal Day 2010, including Phoenixville Federal Bank and Trust, The Borough of Phoenixville, Exelon Power, French Creek Outfitters, Mont Clare Fire Company, Twisted Twins Salsa and the Phoenixville Spinners.

The Borough of Phoenixville notes on its website, “Like so many American towns and cities, Phoenixville owes its growth to its waterways.” In a high-tech age where connections happen across invisible lines, it’s easy to take our landscape for granted. When you take a day to become more aware of it, there’s pride in knowing that the Schuylkill River and Canal are still vital to the life of our community.

For information about Canal Day 2010 and the Schuylkill River Trail Run visit