Be A Local Legend

Alice Kershaw
Alice Kershaw

We are all place based

As runners we all have our local patch; aka the bit where we know the names of the Strava segments. We know the location of the best coffee shops and ice cream vans and where the hill is just about horribly runnable enough to not justify walking. We also might have favourite runs further afield. These parks, pavements, tracks, moorland, peaks, trails, woods, bogs, canal and riverside paths are all important spaces, for us and also for nature to inhabit and move through. Living in Leeds I love places like the Meanwood Valley Trail and Roundhay and Golden Acre Park as my local spots, with the Chevin, Lakes, Peaks and Moors not too far away by public transport.

So how do we protect and enhance the spaces and places we run in? Picking up litter as you go is a great thing to do, and every occasional bit of ‘Balsam bashing’ as you take a stretch can help. One of the things I was really drawn to with Green Runners was the fact the fourth pillar is about speaking out, and there are ways you can use your voice to protect the places you love.

Speak out

You can bring your voice together with others and take part in a campaign or write to your MP about issues impacting your place. The Wildlife Trust has a list of current campaigns across the UK here that involve standing up for nature locally or nationally. You could even volunteer with or join a local Wildlife Trust, each is part of a collective grassroots movement and there are 46 across the UK, so wherever you run, there is one near you! Climate Action has a new page on how to take action with your community, and if you want to know if your local authority has declared a climate emergency, there is a great dashboard for that.

Chat about where you run through

When you take part in events or running clubs there is often loads of random chat, and you can use this as an opportunity to talk about actions you are thinking of taken or which you have done. In the running meetup I go to I think we sometimes spend more time talking about the ducks on the canal than we do running, but we also chat about the state of the canal, and rivers generally. Drawing attention to issues with others is a great first step! Plus, ducks are great.

Voice concerns

If a race you are doing goes somewhere lovely it might negatively impact the place it takes place in if the organisers have not considered nature in their planning. If you are not sure, and often races will put this information online, check if there has been ecological advice on where flags are placed, and that the organisers are using removable signage that leaves no trace. Sometimes race organisers have done environmental impacts to ensure they have taken the best routes through sensitive landscapes. If you are not sure, speak up and ask!

There are so many ways to speak up and make a difference, happy running!

Alice Kershaw (Green Runner)

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