Canalway ChallengeVIDEO LINK: Canalway Challenge Finisher Video 2019, 

Waterford, NY – People from 26 states and Canada walked, ran, cycled, and paddled their way to fitness and fun this year as part of the new Canalway Challenge, launched by the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in May. More than 1,279 individuals, 267 teams, and 30 organizations signed on. Participants completed 285,000 miles on the Canalway Trail and NYS Canal System, the equivalent of circling the globe 11 times.

“The Canalway Challenge brought people to every part of the Canalway Corridor. Most participants took multiple trips and visited new communities, historic sites, and local businesses, resulting in increased tourism and improved awareness of all that New York’s canals offer,” said Bob Radliff, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

In addition to meeting a fitness goal of 15, 90, 180, or 360 miles, participants expressed excitement about exploring new places, spending time with friends and family, and seeing wildlife while on the waterway and Canalway Trail. A number of participants reached profound new personal milestones-- coming back from cancer, discovering needed connections to nature, becoming physically active, and overcoming obstacles.

New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, “The Erie Canal is a valuable tourism asset for New York State, and the Canalway Challenge provided so many people with new ways to experience the canal and its surrounding communities, making it more likely they will plan return visits and expanded canal-based getaways.”

Brian U. Stratton, Director of the NYS Canal Corporation said: “The Canalway Challenge was a great way to spur more people to not only achieve fitness goals, but to also experience the beauty and history of the Canalway Corridor. I’m confident next year’s Challenge will invite more people to the water and trail for the first time and encourage those who took part this year to explore new places in 2020.”

Participants Testimonials

The Canalway was wonderful. I've done tours of this length in France (along the Canal du Midi) and in Florida (up the Atlantic Coast from Key West to Georgia) and the Erie Canalway was comparable to these experiences. I can't wait to come back and do the western portion!
– Stephen S., 180 Miles

A year ago this week I ended 20 weeks of chemo for breast cancer. In December, I spent the month going through radiation. I needed this motivation to encourage myself to get my health back. Thank you! In 2017 I did the 8-day state Erie Canal Ride. It was fun to revisit that route over the last months.
– Patty L., 360 Miles

We have passed through NY's heartland, gliding, biking, and hiking near historic quaint canal towns, scenic farmlands, and thriving wildlife preserves. The canal joins attractions both modern and historic, so there's something new around every bend, every turn…The Erie Canal is an experience of discovery! How awesome is that!
-- Meg K., 180 Miles

I loved spending time biking with my family and running with my friends! I spent time on the canal trail in places throughout NY that I never would have visited if not for this challenge!
-- Sara H., 90 Miles

The Canalway Challenge returns in 2020! Find out more at

The Canalway Challenge is funded in part by a grant from Market New York through I LOVE NY, New York State’s Division of Tourism, as part of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Additional sponsorship is provided by the New York State Canal Corporation.

Nearly 200 years after its construction, the Erie Canal remains an iconic symbol of American ingenuity and determination. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor preserves our extraordinary canal heritage, promotes the Corridor as a world-class tourism destination, and fosters vibrant communities connected by more than 500 miles of waterway. It achieves its mission in partnership with the National Park Service, New York State agencies, non-profit organizations, local residents, and more than 200 communities across the full expanse of upstate New York.



Jean Mackay, Director of Communications and Outreach
518-237-7000, ext. 222 or 518-925-6721 (cell)