There are many ways to scratch the running itch. One can set a personal goal, run for a charity or simply enjoy the freedom that comes with being able to cover distance under your own power.
One thing all runners secretly want to do, even if they deny it publicly, is to be able to run across America using either the latitude or longitude method. There is just something so satisfying about running from Oceanside, California, to Ocean City, Maryland, or something similar.
Many transcontinental runners will tell you the physical part is the easiest, as they’re trained for such endeavors. The difficulty is one of logistics: where does one sleep, how does one fuel the body, who will take care of the home front grind? And then there is the route. Will it be on trails, roads, a mix of the two? How the heck do I get across rivers? The challenges are complex.
One runner who took on the challenge is 43-year-old Connecticut based ultra-runner Shan Riggs, alongside accomplished bicyclist Josh Grant, who transports the necessary supplies on a bicycle support trailer.
In 2020, Riggs ran 3,255 miles from San Francisco to the Connecticut coast, nearly 40 miles a day, raising awareness and over $45,000 for Foodshare, an impressive accomplishment.
For 2022, Riggs set his sights on something that had never been done before: To cover the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, a developing multi-use pathway connecting 15 states from Florida to Maine, running with Grant in support.
In April, Riggs and Grant set off from Key West, Florida, heading toward the northern terminus of Calais, Maine, near the St. Croix River before its crossing into New Brunswick, Canada. Beyond the personal challenge, Riggs and Grant have set a goal of raising $30,000 in support of the East Coast Greenway Alliance and its mission to create safe spaces for equitable active transportation and recreation.
Any local runner who has spent time traversing the running paths around these parts has no doubt seen the East Coast Greenway signs as Maryland is home to 171 miles of the path — from the WB&A Trail, B&A BWI, Gwynns Falls, Jones Falls and Torrey C. Brown trails.
No doubt, some of those runners have wondered how to do the entire route, as one can do with the 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland or the 371 Greater Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal from Pittsburgh to Georgetown.
Riggs and Grant were recently in Maryland on their journey and have given us a template to follow for those wanting to experience all the East Coast Greenway has to offer in Maryland.
Riggs and Grant departed Annapolis at sunrise and experienced what they described as “an extremely peaceful and beautiful downtown.” Heading up to the World War II Memorial, they said running and riding the B&A Trail was a big relief after several days of traveling on well traveled roads.
“We could relax and enjoy the scenery for many miles with shade cover and without needing to cross busy intersections. We also saw a lot of runners and cyclists on the trail who knew what we were doing and would stop to cheer us on,” Riggs wrote in a blog entry.
It is a feeling many local runners can share, the serenity of downtown in the morning and the peaceful B&A Trail with a quick temperature drop as one leaves the city and heads to the country.
As Riggs and Grant put in about 40 miles a day, there was little time to explore the beauty of the many towns on the Greenway and concentration was required on the road sections connecting the trails, with traffic and intersection crossings.
To follow the ongoing journey of Riggs and Grant, visit https://www.eastcoastgreenwayexpedition.com/the-team
One challenge in particular standing between Riggs and Grant and sleep was the Hatem Bridge over the Susquehanna connecting Harford and Cecil Counties at Havre de Grace, which is not passable on foot.
With the exception of a few ferry crossings, the Hatem is the only part of the Greenway not accessible on foot. Riggs and Grant were able to secure a police crossing to continue their journey. Hopefully in the future, consideration will be given to establishing a pedestrian lane on the Hatem Bridge.
Transit of the East Coast Greenway presents a unique challenge as it is a work-in-progress using hiker-biker trails for 1,050 miles and the balance being roads. There is a vision to turn those roads into pedestrian friendly routes.
Since 1991, the East Coast Greenway Alliance has been working with local and national stakeholders to create a safe space for commuting and recreation. It is a goal that deserves our support and has so far attracted $2 billion in public investment, including a record $550 million in 2021.
Daniel Paschall, Mid-Atlantic Manager for the Alliance, emphasized the need for continued development. Paschall said completion of the East Coast Greenway, a system of equitable public space from Maine to Florida, is a critical component in tackling climate crisis, transforming public health, building communities in divided times and establishing a model of safe active transportation.
“There are incredible segments of the East Coast Greenway in Maryland, and significant areas of need — most notably the Hatem Bridge crossing. I am excited to continue to work with our local partners in Maryland to complete our network of connected, traffic-free pathways in the state and beyond,” Paschall said.
For more information, visit: https://www.greenway.org
June 19: Dawson’s Father’s Day 10K (8 a.m.), Severna Park, Information:
June 19: Donuts with Dad 5K (7 a.m.), Towne Center, Information:
July 9: Women’s Distance Festival/Run After the Women (7:45 a.m.), West Annapolis,
July 16: John Wall 1 Mile Run (8 a.m.), Bates Athletic Complex, Information:
July 23: Endless Summer 6-hour Run (8 a.m.), Greenbury Points, Information:
August 7: Dog Days 8K, Anne Arundel Community College (8 a.m.), Information:
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August 28: Annapolis 10 Mile Run, Information: https://www.annapolisstriders.org/annapolis-10-mile-run/
September 3: Charles Street 12 Miler (7:30 a.m.), Baltimore, Information:
September 10: 36th Annual Amish County BikeTour
September 18: Run for the Light House, Quiet Waters Park, Information: AnnapolisRunForTheLightHouse.org.
Send running calendar items to Bob Cawood at firstname.lastname@example.org