FKT: Marlin Weekley - C&O Canal Towpath (MD to DC) - 2022-06-05

Route variation
C&O Canal Towpath (MD to DC)
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
2d 15h 10m 0s

I began JUne 3rd at the medallion in Cumberland marking the start of the C&O canal towpath to Washington DC and mile marker 0. I started my watch at 3:58 and began my run. At approx 20 miles in I reach the Paw Paw Tunnel Detour. The Tunnel is closed for repair work. This detour is 1.5 miles long with both a steep climb and descent over the tunnel. The weather was picture perfect. I stopped regularly at the trail side hand pump for water. At approx mile 44 i reach a camp area with a trailside diner-tavern (Bill's Place) and enjoyed a hamburger and coke before continuing on. My first "day" ended at Lockhouse 49 near mednight where i spent the night. Interesting but took more time that i thought to deal with getting in, sleeping a bit, reorganizing my pack, and putting everything in the house back in order. While there was electricity in this lockhouse there was no water - not even one of the many hand pumps along the trail. Get plenty of water before arriving. I had hoped to be back on the trail by 4-4:30 am but it was after 5 when i did get back on the trail. My legs were quite sore but after a mile I began to make good progress. Day two also had perfect weather. In fact all three days were weather perfect, cool calm in the morning and warm and sunny in the afternoons with no rain and few clouds all three days. At MM 89 (they get smaller as you go toward DC) is another detour. This one is about 3.5 miles long and take you around onpaved road through residental areas. There are no services on the detour and it is a bit hilly but the detour is well marked. i reach Hancock,MD and Buddylou's trailside restaurant around 7pm. I had looked forward to some real food and an iced coke all day. Unfortunately it being Saturday night they were very busy and i decided not to wait. I filled my bottles with water and continued toward Brunswick. I reached Brunswick just as daylight was fading. There is a Travelodge in town so I choose to stay there for the night. Others doing this route should know its a full 1.5 miles off the trail, up and down steep hills through town! Falling asleep around 10:30 I was back up at 2:00am, changed socks, made coffee and had a couple of clif bars and I was off heading back to the trailhead at 3:00am and starting my watch at the trail at 3:22am. I reach Whites Landing at 8:22am where sandwiches,snacks and drinks are available - when they open at 9:00am! I didn't wait around. I grabbed a Dr Pepper from the vending machine and moved on. Day 3 had more scenery along the Potomac River as there are large rock and some water falls. With about 14-15 miles to go I reach the Great Falls of the Potomac. This is a beautiful place and many people were there enjoying the day with family. Another note to others who would do this trail: the trail side pumps had ceased about 5-7 miles BEFORE the Great Falls and there were none between GF and milemarker 0! There is a single public water fountain near the restrooms at Great Falls. Everyone was lined up filling there water bottles. I waited my turn. I drank as much as i could topping off my bottles and heading on. I became somewhat dehydrated in the next 5 miles and was out of water and was therefore unable to take the salt tablets i carried. I struggled mentally between running and risking cramping or walking more and risking not making my time goal. I compromised and ran a decent pace for quarter mile, walked for a couple of minutes then repeated. Arriving in DC there were a number of place where you have to cross traffic so going slow is the order of the day for the last mile. Reaching the Thompson Boat Center I jog around the corner, touched mile marker 0 and stopped my watch right at 7pm. I had completed to trail in 2 days andabout 15 hours - I would check the watch data later for the exact time. It had been quite an adventure for a 70 year old and was amazed I could keep moving at certain times. The train rides back to Cumberland and the people I would continue to meet would make the entire experience very memorable and puts a smile on my face everytime I replay any of my meeting with others. EVERYONE i met for the days I was in DC and Cumberland and in between were very friendly and nice. I am so glad I talked myself into doing the C&O canal towpath.

For resupplies I had left a small box of food in lockhouse 49, one at the travelodge in Brunswick and one at the Embassy Suites in DC (where I sayed after the run was finished) two days before I started the run. I was a busy two days day. Wednesday June 1st I flew my plane from Illinois to the Cumberland airport, rented a car, drove to DC (Embassy suites), Then to Brunswick and then to lockhouse 49 where I spend the night to leave a box of food and understand the "house rules and process". June 2nd checked out the Paw Paw detour to be certain where it was and what it entailed. Then returned the car in Cumberland and prepared for an early turn in before a 2:00 am wake up.