The charity making life better by water

Inspiring the nation with Canalathon 2022

This year, we launched our very first Canalathon, a virtual fundraising event which challenged participants to run or walk 26.2 miles along their local canal throughout July. Not only did you raise thousands of pounds for the Trust, Canalathon encouraged hundreds of people up and down the country to get active and explore our beautiful waterways. Here are just two inspiring stories from this year’s event.

Jen's story

For Jen, in Staffordshire, taking on our Canalathon challenge was a no-brainer. She's always loved being by water, and the chance to get fit and raise some money for the Trust was too good to pass up.

Finding it tough going at first, Jen soon settled into a routine, grinding out mile after mile along the Trent & Mersey Canal, just a stone's throw from her home.

Bird's eye view of a woman running along the towpath

July was one of the hottest months on record, and when the heatwave struck, Jen had to postpone her challenge for several days. But the blistering conditions didn't deter her for long. Determined to reach her goal, Jen began running in the early morning and evening, avoiding the hottest part of the day and gradually racking up the miles.

Eventually, in late July, with just a few days to spare, she reached the magical 26.2-mile mark. It's an accomplishment she won't soon forget: “The sense of achievement is phenomenal,” she says. “I did it! I really ran 26.2 miles in a month. A year ago, I wouldn't have believed it was possible.”

Since completing her Canalathon challenge, Jen is fitter than ever. She feels happier and healthier and immensely proud to have played her part in preserving our wonderful rivers and canals.

Jen raised a brilliant £271 to help support our work. Thank you for your superb efforts, Jen!

Roderick's story

When Roderick, from Yeading in West London, decided to take on Canalathon, he added his own twist. As a keen runner, he set himself the goal of completing not just one Canalathon, but as many multiples of 26.2 miles as he could across the 31 days. To make things even more interesting, he decided to only clock, “unique miles,” as he put it, pledging to never run along the same stretch of canal more than once.

Starting out locally, Roderick trod familiar paths along the Grand Union and Regent's canals, occasionally hopping on the tube to avoid retracing his steps. After covering 82 miles along London's towpaths, he took his challenge north.

A man in a running singlet inset into picture of canalside plants

Roderick had always been planning to catch some events at this year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and he decided to combine the experience with his Canalathon challenge. His Midlands adventure took him over the top of the Trent & Mersey Canal, along the Wendover and Aylesbury arms of the Grand Union, and finally into the heart of the city on Birmingham's New Main Line Canal.

Returning to London on the very last day of July, Roderick completed the final few miles of his gruelling challenge along the Grand Union Canal near his home. All told, he clocked up an amazing 150 miles in just 31 days, the equivalent of almost six marathons! But he doesn't intend to stop there: “I've marked all the miles I covered in red on a map,” he says. “It's great to see what I achieved, but what it really reveals to me is how many miles I haven't covered. In time I plan to add a lot more red to the map.”

Roderick raised a fantastic £392 to help support our work. Thank you for your superb efforts, Roderick!

Be inspired

If you've been inspired by Jen and Roderick's stories, why not take up your own fundraising challenge? Canalathon may be over until next year, but we have plenty of fundraising events in the coming months for you to get your teeth into.

Last Edited: 21 October 2022

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration