By Jamie Stanek
CMMD Running Team
The Struble Trail in Downingtown is an important place for me. It’s where I trained to become a runner and a philanthropist. I first started using the Struble in late February 2014 when I joined up with Team CMMD to run the 2014 Broad Street Run the following May in Philadelphia. Our group raises money for the American Cancer Society. On most Sundays, a group of 20 or so of us would meet in the Norwood Lot just before 7 am and we would walk or run our training distances together. While the bonds of friendship I made with my teammates certainly cemented my enthusiasm for active philanthropy, the beauty of the Struble Trail kept me coming back as well. Had we just trained in traffic or on a track, I’m not sure I would have kept running.
The Struble Trail is only 3 miles long if you leave from the Pond’s Lot, but on that stretch the quiet is punctuated not by traffic and city noises but by the sounds of East Brandywine Creek and the wildlife alongside it. It is very common to see animals in the water and in the woods alongside the trail. I’ve done runs on the Struble in 10-degree cold, in gently falling snow, and on foggy, humid mornings in the summer where the light slants through the tree limbs in glorious beams. I’ve run the trail in a gaggle of five or ten of us, chuckling and cracking wise, and I’ve run it alone accompanied by great blue herons, ducks, and geese in the creek.
Along those three miles of trail, I have lost myself in the rhythm of my breath, the cadence of my run, and the footfalls of the friends by my side. The miles melt away in a blur of tree trunks and water, and the effort to get those miles in is lessened. Our team has shed tears and been filled with hope along the Struble as we run in memory or honor of someone who has passed from their cancer fight or is in the midst of one.
Having the township keep the trail clear following storms is wonderful, as we use the Struble weekly. And it’s not just Team CMMD on the Trail early every week. There are many familiar faces I see running or walking almost each week. I really feel like the Struble Trail is part of my home; it may surprise you to know that I drive from Pottstown each week to run the Struble with my teammates. The team and the trail are that important to me.
I fully believe that our use of the Struble Trail has helped our small running group grow, and with our growth we have been able to provide over $800,000 to the American Cancer Society in fundraising. This isn’t hyperbole. The Struble is a perfect place to take people like myself, who are not runners, and turn them into runners and even philanthropists.