By Scott Marcoux
[Note: This article appeared in the Late Fall 2013 Newsletter. The full newsletter can be viewed in this pdf document]
The Eastern Trail began with a simple idea: to create a green transportation route for non-motorized travel through southern Maine. But for the growing number of activity groups and organizations now using the trail for a variety of events, the trail’s off-road sections are now, in themselves, also a regular destination.
Once again in 2013, the number of fundraising events hosted on at least part of the ET grew, totaling 15 this year. Returning events from last year included Southern Maine Medical’s BeHealthy 5K, the Rev3 Triathlon in Old Orchard Beach, and the Snowy Egret 5K Run/Walk. Events new to the trail in 2013 included The Maine Walk, Run or Roll Against Bullying, the Connor Chretien Memorial Scholarship Walk ‘n Roll, and the Walk to Cure Diabetes.
The benefits to moving a fundraiser to the ET are obvious: walkers and runners find a surface more forgiving than roads and sidewalks, and interaction with vehicular traffic is greatly reduced or entirely eliminated. Participants and volunteers trade exhaust fumes for fresh air and occasional pine scent. The mile markers don’t hurt either!. Given the demand, if you are planning to hold an event on the trail next year, be sure to download the Event Request Application from the Events page on our website— www.easterntrail.org. The application process is essential to avoiding conflicts with other events, especially with at least ten events already scheduled for 2014.
Wait, we wanna play too!
Through all of our interactions with trail fans — educational fairs, corporate and school presentations, and phone inquiries to our office — we’ve learned a lot about how the trail has been embraced by less formal groups of users. Local outing clubs like the Kennebunk Newcomers and Biddeford’s 50+ Club are adding trail-centered activities to their offerings. A number of informal ET running and cycling meet-ups have sprung up since the completion of some sections, and visitors to Maine or their in-state hosts now regularly call for information about the trail while planning family vacation time.
The Lure of the Moon Walk
Of course, the ET Moonlight Walks have become regular and popular outings during autumn, winter and spring. With up to 30-40 participants in clear weather, group leader and ETA Trustee Joe Yuhas takes to the trail in Biddeford and Arundel most months with only the moon to light the way. Joe will have led nine of these walks by year’s end.
Some walkers have become regular attendees, and some months, everyone swaps shoes for snowshoes and cross-country skis. The walks are a chance to learn about the ET from Joe and other trustees who often tag along.
Additionally, ET Bicycle Loop Rides were twice led by volunteer Russ Lamer, and a number of Monday Morning Walks were offered by Trustee Jim Monroe through the summer.
For information on upcoming ETA-led events, check the Events page on our website, www.easterntrail.org, or become a fan of our Facebook page.
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