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Going the Distance

Dear Friend of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy,

Marathoners call it "runner's high," the rush of endorphins that floods the body and delivers a boost powerful enough to carry you through to the finish line and beyond. But to even get there in the first place, to push yourself hard enough so that you reach a point where the body exceeds even your own expectations: that takes passion.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy members have passion. Of that, I am certain. I see it when I travel to towns across America and am greeted by rail-trail supporters who have given their time, expertise, money, muscle and determination to the creation of a rail-trail. It is in the passion demonstrated by people who believe in the community, health and environmental benefits of trails that I find my runner's high. I suppose you could call it my "rail-trail high." It gives me the boost to continue to the finish line.

That finish line is still far in the distance. We can just make it out, and every day the demand grows for safer places to walk and play, more connected neighborhoods and better-integrated transportation systems. But it's still something that requires strenuous work and daring expansion. And passion.

When we began looking for story ideas for this issue of Rails to Trails, we didn't set out to find a theme. The theme found us. In this issue you will read about the passion of three Iowans who recognized an unused corridor for what it could be—and saw it become one of the state's finest examples of a community pathway. You'll get a peek inside a marathoner's mind to see what drives him to compete. And you'll learn why a handful of dedicated attorneys give freely of themselves and their services to support and defend the trails we value.

The shared passion for what we do and what we believe in is what will buoy us up when we have to fight harder and dig deeper; and it's what will allow us to soar higher in the wake of our victories, whether the successful reauthorization of a new federal transportation bill, or the ribbon-cutting on one more mile of rail-trail.

We are off to a running start in 2005. I see countless rail-trail highs on the horizon, and I, for one, am looking forward to going the distance.

Happy Trails!

Keith Laughlin

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037