This is far and away the most common question that parkrun USA receives. For many years we had to say, “No,” but since August 2018 we’ve been able to say, “No but there’s one in NJ you can get to from NYC.”
Delaware and Raritan Canal parkrun (aka D&RC) is in Somerset County in New Jersey and takes place along the Canal towpath that runs for 60 miles from New Brunswick to Trenton. The event was started by parkrun USA Ambassador Rory Murphy along with fellow expat Kay Hallenbeck
“After moving up from Maryland I was parkrun-less for the first time in my life. It took a year to get permission, with plenty of false starts along the way, but with great support from the NJ State parks dept and Somerset county we haven’t looked back.”
Despite the regular trickle of tourists out from Manhattan, D&RC is very much a community event, with the majority of attendees coming from the local area.
“We’ve had multiple examples of people out for a walk/run along the towpath seeing us in action, then coming along the following week to try it themselves,” says Kay. “The towpath is a popular local area so it’s been a great recruiting tool.”
The third key member of the D&RC leadership is Catherine Weimer, a local who had never done parkrun before D&RC started.
“I had heard about parkrun on various local running groups, so when D&RC started up I messaged them offering volunteering help if they wanted it.”
Needless to say Rory & Kay jumped at the offer, and since then Catherine (plus husband Tom and barkrunner Layla) have become a vital and integral part of the D&RC team.
D&RC has grown steadily from that day, and now regularly gets 60-80 participants and has a robust core team with around 8 RDs. They’ve become notable for the new volunteer role of “voluntaxi”….with people travelling out every week from Manhattan for parkrun, some of the regulars started offering rides every Sat morning from New Brunswick Station to parkrun, which is greatly appreciated by the global tourist community.
Of course this is magnified at NYC marathon weekend – last year saw an enterprising tourist charter a 55 seater bus from Manhattan to bring all the marathoners out. The Corner Café, D&RC’s weekly meeting spot, put on a buffet and a superb time was had by all (including an attendance record).
Since parkrun has been suspended, like many other events we’ve been keeping in touch virtually, with weekly Zoom coffees on Sat morning.
“The calls don’t just talk parkrun – we’ve had mini run training seminars, discussions about the virus, updates on how busy the course is now and many other things” said Rory. “It’s just like us all hanging out and chatting over coffee. But we can’t wait to get back together on the towpath”
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