When Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation parkrun launched in the fall of 2019, it became the 40th parkrun event in the US, the third in Ohio – but the first in Cleveland.
Co-Event Director, Nancy Desmond, tells us more about the event she calls home…
Matt Kirk and I, co-event directors, didn’t know each other when we both did parkrun in the UK and wanted to bring it to Cleveland. The parkrun US office connected us and we finally made it happen.
I especially like the social equity of parkrun. It’s free for everyone all the time, removing the financial barrier to a healthy, fun activity. I also love the age diversity in participation.
Our parkrun takes place in Cuyahoga Heights, OH (Cleveland). We celebrated our inaugural event on October 5th of last year, so we’re relatively new, but we’ve already welcomed 157 different people. We thank Cleveland Metroparks for welcoming parkrun to the Cleveland area.
Our course is more or less a well-marked out and back route on a paved trail alongside the Ohio & Erie Canal and the Cuyahoga River. There’s one hill near the end, but the rest is flat.
When it comes to landmarks, we have two important bodies of water. The Cuyahoga River, famous for catching on fire in 1969 because it was so polluted and helping launch the Clean Water Act is now is a symbol of recovery.
There’s also the Ohio and Erie Canal, completed in the early 1830s, which turned Cleveland from a sleepy village to a booming city by connecting Lake Erie and the Ohio River.
Our event has some characteristics that make us unique. All winter, a group of mature and juvenile American bald eagles take up residency along the course and there are weekly eagle spottings during parkrun. In summer, there’s a nesting pair.
Our park is also a green oasis in a built-out area on Cleveland’s southern border. The post-parkrun social is in a very kid-friendly venue too.
If I was trying to convince somewhere to come and try our parkrun, I would say our setting has something for everyone. Forty-four trains a day cross the tall trestle while bald eagles, great blue herons, wildflowers and basking turtles call the river and canal home.
For our post-parkrun coffee and meet-up, we gather at the CanalWay Center, a visitor/nature center right in the park. It’s a beautiful setting and the kids enjoy the fish, turtles and kids activities. As our event grows, the staff plan to provide post-fun activities for participants!
Our parkrun may be less than 4 months old, but already, the regulars and the volunteers all know each other and socialize after. Many locals have never been to the park or nature center and are excited to learn about it.
We’re proud of our new little parkrun community and can’t wait to see it grow.
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