The D&L Blog

Delaware & Lehigh - The 165-Mile Challenge: it’s easier than you think

By Emily Dings, D&L Assistant

What does 165 miles look like?

Sometimes we hear that 165 feels like an intimidating number of miles for a Tail on the Trail challenge. After all, isn’t that about the length of six marathons? If you didn’t start logging miles when the challenge began in May, how could you possibly catch up if you started a month or two into the challenge period?

It turns out it’s easier than you think. Let’s say you started on July 1. If you logged just one mile each day from July 1 through November 2, you’d already have 125 miles in the bag. On 20 of those days, log two miles instead. Boom! You’ve hit 165 miles.

If you’ve never taken the 165-Mile Challenge, here are some reasons why this is the perfect year to give it a shot.

It gives you an excuse to explore new parts of the D&L and other trails.

Do you know why we chose 165 as the number for this challenge? It’s because this is the approximate mileage of the D&L Trail. How much of the 165 miles have you covered? If you’ve been feeling cooped up during the pandemic period, the D&L and THE LINK Trails offer vast expanses where you can get your miles in safely as you take in fresh air. You may find a trailhead just a few miles away that offers an inviting new fitness experience. Check out our Virtual D&L Bike Rides for a preview of a few different trail excursions you might want to try. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with returning to your tried-and-true favorite trail stretch, either!

Research shows that when people exercise outdoors, they exercise for longer and burn more calories. The experience of walking, running, or biking on a trail is so pleasurable—with the sun shining on your face and the breeze drifting through the trees—that we tend to focus less on time and distance and more on the experience itself. So you may just find that you just got in an extra mile without even realizing it.

It pushes you to try new types of exercise and keep up a regular fitness routine.

Although ordinarily we encourage Tail on the Trail users to get as many of their miles on the actual trail as possible (see above), the 2020 165-Mile Challenge kicked off during a period that was anything but ideal. As we adjusted to the fact that this year trail activity might not be a safe option for all participants, we got creative.

With our partner St. Luke’s, we decided on a digital event for the May 2 kickoff—a virtual Walk with a Doc video featuring Dr. Joanne Calabrese—and developed a collection of at-home exercise materials to help participants stay safe as they kept fit. An important part of this process was creating a mileage conversion chart so that people could log miles after doing activities such as aerobics, weight lifting, or even doing yard work. We also created a series of Bingo cards for users to complete as they knocked out various fitness, safety and nutrition activities. Getting a Bingo will net you an extra five miles!

Did you know that 20 minutes of yoga is equivalent to one mile? Or that 21 minutes of high-intensity aerobics converts to two miles? You’ll soon see that by including so many different kinds of activity in your mileage count, it will be easier to keep up a regular routine and you’ll crush the challenge in no time.

It’s a great way to stay connected to friends, family and colleagues.

If you’re missing spending time with your favorite people, Tail on the Trail is a great way to stay connected. Share the program with a friend and challenge each other to see who can get the most miles in per week or complete the challenge first. We also have a long list of community and corporate groups that have joined the program and develop extra challenges within their groups. Some of our participants include Just Born, Girls on the Run, BBraun, Crayola, and number of school districts. If you’d like to register your group, just email!

You get awesome stuff!

Although receiving Tail on the Trail swag shouldn’t be the main motivation for completing our challenges, there’s no denying that it’s a nice perk! Past years’ prizes have included Tail on the Trail fleece blankets, portable coolers, rain jackets, and camping lanterns. We love to see participants out sporting their gear from past challenges year after year. And when someone asks you how you got that awesome item, you get to see the look on their face when you tell them you completed 165 miles!

Remember that although 165 miles is a long distance, you’ve still got over four months to do it, and a number of options to suit your exercise preference. At the time of this writing, nearly 400 people have already crossed the finish line (though we hope they’ll keep logging miles anyway). Take the 165-mile challenge today. You’ve got this!