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Gretchen Gandini - Expanding the WOW Trail, a marathon endeavor

Soon after signing on as Executive Director of the WOW Trail, I joined thousands of runners in Hopkinton for the start of the Boston Marathon. The magnitude of both events was not lost on me.
The vision for the WOW Trail is grand — build a nine mile recreational path through the City of Laconia as a part of the regional Winnipesaukee Trail that will connect Meredith to Franklin. Turning this vision into a reality will be a challenge. Likewise, running 26.2 miles is sort of a daunting task, too.
Having completed the first goal, my sights are now firmly set on the second. And, while the project is different, the process remains the same.
Preparation is important. Let a plan be your guide. Just as a runner follows a training plan, our process for designing, fundraising, building, and maintaining the WOW Trail is clearly defined. Our efforts today are focused on extending the rail from behind the Laconia Public Library at North Main Street, to the Belmont town line. We are currently in the preliminary design phase of this section and look forward to sharing these plans, and the fundraising efforts that go along with them, in the months ahead.
Be flexible. Injuries, illness, and crazy New England weather are but a few things that interrupt even the best laid marathon training plans. Similarly, we will do our best to complete the WOW Trail as planned, and as soon as possible, understanding that circumstances beyond our control may dictate changes along the way.
Not everyone will understand your goal. Let's face it, not everyone thinks that running one mile is fun, let alone 26.2 miles. Likewise, some folks are not as thrilled about building recreational trails as we are. Let's talk about this. A healthy dialogue will help us understand each other's point of view.
Ask for help. Friends and family are essential to achieving your goal. Just as the support of family and friends is important to any runner, the WOW Trail's dedicated Board of Directors, volunteers, and financial supporters are the lifeblood of our organization. Their contributions resulted in the successful completion of the first section of the WOW Trail, and will lead us moving forward. We must raise a significant amount of money and expand our family of supporters to achieve success. Please consider joining us. Use the WOW Trail. Share your support of the Trail with local and state representatives. Volunteer your time. Make a donation. Participate in an upcoming fundraising event. Bring your dog to BOW WOW Fest on May 4th. Buy a ticket for the 10th Annual WOW Sweepstakes Ball on May 18th for a fun night out AND a chance to win $10,000! Participate in WOW Fest on September 14th. It's a fun- filled event for the whole family featuring two bicycle challenges, 5k and 10K road races, a fun walk, a BBQ lunch, live music & kids activities. Join in the fun! We need your support.
Carry on. It is worth it. The WOW Trail expansion will test our endurance. Let's stay focused on the vision. Rail-trails offer safe and accessible routes for work and school commuting, promote active-lifestyles for all ages, and stimulate local economies by increasing tourism and promoting access to local businesses. In fact, according to a recent Belknap Economic Development Council study, a completed WOW Trail will bring an estimated 152,000 users annually, with 38,000 coming from outside of the Lakes Region — generating nearly $1.8 million in new visitor spending. A completed WOW Trail will, indeed, contribute significantly to the vitality of our community.
Let's get moving and make this project a reality. I'm ready. Are you? See you on the Trail.
(Gretchen Gandini is the Executive Director of the WOW Trail. She'd love to hear from you about the Trail and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The WOW Trail is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. For more information, please visit www.wowtrail.org.)
 
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