Virginia to Fayetteville, NC: Week 6, River Relay

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Volunteers from Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association helped a dozen or so volunteers — most of them under 10 — pick up trash along a stretch of the Greenway and creek in northern Durham, NC.

Day 36

Sept. 28: Dave Connelly and Lee Tobin had a summery ride from Clarksville, VA, to Durham, NC, with temps in the 90s. In the afternoon, a dozen kids and their families gathered with Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association staff and volunteers to pick up trash at a section of the creek along the Greenway. They filled at least two large bags with recyclable plastic and bottle and another two big bags with everything from an old tire to a broken plastic paddle.

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Boxes of conference swag bags and other Southeast Summit materials stacked in our office, ready to be moved to Durham Convention Center.

Days 37 & 38

Sept. 29 & 30: The River Relay has taken two rest days as we gear up for our first-ever Southeast Greenways & Trails Summit in Durham, NC, where our nonprofit is headquartered. For three days we'll be sharing best practices, collaborations, and other insights with more than 300 greenways advocates and partners. Stay tuned!

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Some 270 runners participated in the Ales for Rail Trails 5K put on by Bull City Running, with proceeds going to East Coast Greenway. The course included part of the Greenway's Ellerbe Creek Trail.

Day 39

Oct. 1: We kicked off the Southeast Greenways & Trails Summit in Durham, NC, with three active options: Botany by Bicycle, exploring native plants along the American Tobacco Trail; a walking tour of activist and Durham native Pauli Murray's neighborhood; and an Ales for Rail Trails 5k. In the evening, greenways guru Chuck Flink offered an engaging overview of greenway history, current status and future challenges.

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Panelists for the Southeast Summit opening plenary on philanthropy and greenway development (from left): Shaheen Syal of Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Atiba Mbiwan of Zeist Foundation, Kathy Higgins of Blue Cross Blue Shield NC Foundation, and Andy Johnson of William Penn Foundation.

Day 40

Oct. 2: We packed in a full day of Southeast Greenways & Trails Summit workshops and presentations, including the unveiling of a report on the economic impact of the Greenway on North Carolina's Triangle region.

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Southeast Summit attendees take a walking tour of the campus of the North Carolina Museum of Art, where greenways (including a segment of the East Coast Greenway and a route to downtown Raleigh) intersect with public art installations.

Day 41

Oct. 3: We closed the third day of the conference with mobile workshops in Durham, Cary, and Raleigh on a beautiful early fall day. Read more about Southeast Summit

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In Clayton, NC, on the banks of the Neuse River (from left): Matthew Staff, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper; Smith Raynor, North Carolina Trails Planner; Leigh Ann Hammerbacher, Associate Director of Conservation & Stewardship, Triangle Land Conservancy; and River Relay cyclist Dave Connelly.

Day 42

Oct. 4: The River Relay hit the road again with Durham residents Dave Connelly and Branson Kimball riding 50-some miles, mostly on protected greenway, from Durham through Raleigh to Clayton. There we took a walk along the Neuse River with the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, then repaired to the Deep River Brewing Company for refreshments and watched a nearly full moon rise.

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Cyclists on the Cape Fear River Trail.

Day 43

Oct. 5: Dave and Branson rode 70-plus miles, Clayton to Fayetteville, NC. At Clark Park, we partnered with Sustainable Sandhills and Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization for a ride along the Cape Fear River Trail, enjoying the rollercoaster hills and a beautiful evening.

Read more River Relay trip updates

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