Runners clock up millions of miles on our canal towpaths

Last year 1.4million people ran or jogged next to the canal on average twice a week, according to new towpath figures compiled for us ahead of this Sunday’s TCS London Marathon.

The research showed that 1,466,236 runners nationwide made more than 137 million visits to their local canal or river to clock up training miles in the 12 months to March 2024. Runners and joggers accounted for roughly one in five of the 858million individual visits to the canal network (21%). Other popular forms of exercise included cycling (17%) and dog walking (29%).

Traffic-free active spaces

We’re providing an unparalleled network of accessible, traffic-free active travel routes. Still used and navigated by boats as they have been for hundreds of years, our canals’ towpaths are free to use and open to all.

As 50,000 competitors prepare to take to the streets of the capital this Sunday, 21 April for the marathon, our waterways and operational assets around Docklands take centre stage.

These include the unassuming but historic West India Dock Impounding Station, passed by the marathon route twice at the northern end of the Isle of Dogs, and which for nearly a century has maintained water levels in and around what is now Canary Wharf by drawing in water from the River Thames.

We have three runners in the TCS London Marathon 2024, each raising sponsorship money to help maintain and keep alive the charity’s living waterways heritage, including its 2,000 miles of towpaths and thousands of centuries-old locks, bridges, aqueducts and reservoirs.

Highlighting the importance of our work

Our regional director, Ros Daniels, said: “London Marathon is not only a wonderful showcase for some of the waterways we look after, but it’s a reminder of how important our 2,000 miles of towpaths are for communities across the country, providing amazing green spaces by water for people to be healthy and get close to nature.

“But our canals are getting old and are facing a challenge from extreme weather events bought about by climate change. I’m grateful to our runners not only for raising vital funds for our charity, but for highlighting how important it is that we #KeepCanalsAlive for everyone. We wish them, and all of the competitors, the very best of luck.”

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