One way people express their love for the Old Croton Aqueduct, which runs through our Rivertowns and beyond, is by earning a Miler certificate and patch for walking or running the 26-mile trail in Westchester or the entire 41-mile length from the Croton Dam to the endpoint at the main New York Public Library (former site of the Murray Hill Distributing Reservoir). Started in 2014 by the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, this program has nearly 90 participants from seven years old to those in their 70’s or older who have earned 26- and/or 41-mile patches, with many more reporting that they are “still working on it.”
The idea came in March 2013 from a Friends member, Guy Silker, who suggested that we establish a program to recognize such achievements. The Friends at first rejected the idea, thinking it would be too difficult to establish and administer. Yet trail walkers and runners continued to urge us to do it. The final encouraging push came in the spring of 2014 from Jane Daniels, co-author of “Walkable Westchester” and a great fan of the trail. She suggested that an Aqueduct Miler program, based on the Appalachian Miler model, would be a wonderful way to encourage walkers and runners to get to know the entire length of this unique trail.
After much discussion and planning, the Friends launched the program, recognizing those who met the challenge, no matter the sequence, direction, speed, or length of time it takes. It may be done all at once or in many segments. Certificates and patches were designed, respectively, by a graphic artist, Laurel Marx, and Katharine Gates, webmaster of the Old Croton Aqueduct, with much consultation with the Friends. The application form is available at aqueduct.org, along with instructions and maps of both the Westchester and New York City segments of the trail.
Who are these intrepid souls? So far, an equal number of men and women, with more walkers than runners. Most come from Westchester, New York City, and the tristate area. Some start after participating in one of the Friends’ Walks and Tours, also listed on the website. Others find out about it on the web or by word of foot. Many who participate become Friends.
The best part of the program? The application, filled out on the honor system, invites participants to send in written descriptions and photos of their Aqueduct journey. One Miler’s journey can be found on the website (click on Plan a Visit, then on Self-Guided Walks). Milers’ photos are on our Instagram account, Crotonaqueduct. We hear from many friends and families who walk or run the trail together; friends who have walked the trail in memory of a friend who used to accompany them; talented photographers; and people who have connected with history, nature, and/or the importance of water as a vital resource as they traversed the trail.
Come join us on the trail!