Active Philly: Multi-Sport Connects Fitness, Health, and Environment in our Urban Oasis

It’s that time of year again, when all hometown eyes are focused on the nation’s largest urban park system and the waterway that wends through the city: the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon takes place this weekend, so if you’re not racing, come out an watch.



This event has been called one of the nation’s best, and it’s near and dear to GreenTreks, not only because our Executive Director Barry Lewis has competed since the race’s inception, but because it highlights the key role a healthy environment plays in our lives.

Imagine if the Schuylkill River wasn’t surrounded by a system of parks to act as a buffer against runoff: there would be no way the swim-bike-run event could be held.*

*NOTE: In spite of the vast improvement in the Schuylkill’s water quality over the past decade, major storms flush significant amounts of pollutants and sediments into the river, so the swim portion is always dependent upon the weather in the days leading up to the race. For an up to date assessment of water quality, based on predictive models, check out phillyrivercast.org. At last check, at 11:30 am on Friday morning, the water quality was good and the water temperature was 79 degrees.

Imagine if we didn’t plan and care for greenspace by maintaining pathways through tree covered landscapes to provide shade and produce oxygen: how enjoyably could we ride and run amidst the paved in, built up city environment that heats like an oven at this time of year?

Imagine if we didn’t have a committed community of athletes, advocates, sponsors, city officials, and volunteers: the coordination, logistics, expense, and personnel requirements of hosting more than 4,00 athletes for a series of multi-sport events would never happen and could never result in such a rich experience for participants without every single person involved.

This year, we’re even more excited about the event, because race management is embarking upon a series of greening initiatives to reduce the event’s environmental footprint and give back to the community that makes the race possible. You can learn more about the initial phase of the race going green, which involves a partnership with Nathan Performance Gear and benefits the Fairmount Park Conservancy here >>

Actually, we’re over the moon about the 2011 race because Barry, who was selected as USA Triathlon’s 2010 Masters Duathlete of the Year, is once again competing as a member of Team PHLY–and they’re partnering with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to RACE FOR A REASON. If you think a triathlon is challenging, check out this video about CAF. Be prepared to be inspired.


Support CAF >>

Then get out and go after your dreams!

Biking: Good for you, good for the planet

In the U.S., it’s estimated that 40 percent of all urban trips are two miles or less. Unfortunately, 90 percent of those trips are usually by car, which adds up in fuel and carbon emissions. If you consider that each mile you travel by bike instead of car prevents one pound of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere, the benefits of bike riding becomes clear. Add the calorie burning, cardiovascular building, body slimming benefits, and one has to wonder: why doesn’t everyone bike?

image from The GOOD Guide to Biking for the Planet

As it turns out, here in Philadelphia, more of us are doing just that every year. According to a recent report from the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love boasts twice as many bike commuters per capita than any other big city in the U.S. and our ranks (yup, two out of three GreenTrekkers regularly bike to work) continue to rise. With new bike lanes planned and slow but steady progress in etiquette amongst and between cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians, Philly is poised to become what Mayor Nutter dreams of: one of the nation’s most bike friendly cities.

We’re well on our way, what with our many great bike shops, clubs that support the most low key recreational riders and hardest-core racers alike, and a super system of bike paths that wend through the city and beyond. Take to the saddle and become part of the bicycle revolution. Besides being good for you and good for the planet, it’s a whole lot of fun!

For the more ambitious amongst you, check out the resurgence of the cross country bike path movement, the U.S. Bicycle Route System, as discussed in this recent Blog post from GOOD >>

Check out the Bicycle Coalition and Download their report >>

Get The GOOD Guide to Biking for the Planet >>

Better still, Get out and Ride!


June 15: Another Philadelphia First

Local Food, Local Music, Local Beverages: Maysie’s Farmfest, June 11 & 12

Our good friends at Maysie’s Farm Conservation Center are holding their annual Conservation Concert in conjunction with WXPN and they’ve got a great lineup planned, so why not go green by going local, learning something new, and joining the fun!


More Information >>

While you’re here, check out this video we did as part of our Biodiversity doc:

Biodiversity and Food: Maysies Farm from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.