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July 2011 Archives

July 5, 2011

Letter of the Month in tgo magazine

I don't think I've ever written a Letter to the Editor before, but a few weeks ago I thought it might be a way of getting my views on Trailblaze published. So I was delighted to open August's issue of tgo magazine today and find it on page 20, chosen as Letter of the Month and winning me a pair of Zamberlan boots!

Here is the gist of what I said about what is wrong with Trailblaze:

  • The system has been installed without any evidence of demand

  • Their urban ugliness can affect all trail users, whereas only a handful of runners have made use of the scheme to date

  • The boxes are intrusive, and disfigure the very Trails that the scheme claims to value

  • They are badly designed, confusing some people enough to think the box is meant for stubbing cigarettes or is fire-related

  • They are unnecessary in an era when portable GPS-savvy devices can time runners and transmit results

  • They set a terrible precedent of commercial advertising on our National Trails.

If you haven't already looked at this protest website then please do. Its Updates section trails a Radio 4 programme Trailblaze on the South Downs this Saturday: watch this space!

And finally, here is the photograph that tgo published to illustrate my point - an ugly box spoiling the tranquil beauty of Cuckmere Valley:


July 15, 2011

An unusual start to the day

I was on BBC Sussex local radio yesterday. At one level radio interview by phone is wonderfully easy – no travel, you don't even need to get dressed first, and in today's world it's so easy to monitor the previous part of programme via the web at your computer. In another way it's hard: you have no body language to interrupt with, no matter how strongly you think you have a telling riposte to a long ramble from the other side.

BBC Sussex treated Trailblaze as a news item as well as giving it two interview sessions: Neil Pringle interviewed a grand old chap called Nigel Buxton in the studio, later talking to me and Endurance Life's marketing manager, presumably both by phone. You can listen to it here, the first 5 minutes being Nigel Buxton, followed by myself and Andrew Barker for 7 minutes (of which I got total air time of just under two minutes).

Nigel Buxton focused on the ugly boxes themselves, and demolished the idea that size matters: the boxes may be small but it takes only one piece of litter to spoil an otherwise immaculate view. I commented on the numbers – endurance running appeals to maybe 1% of the 1% of trail users, not all of whom are gullible enough to feel they need Trailblaze. Since Easter, according to the Trailblaze website, a total of only 38 runners have used the boxes on all the trails put together, excluding the launch event. So the promise of income to the National Trails is a false hope.

Andrew Barker demonstrated his listening skills by persistently getting my name wrong. (I know it isn't the easiest of names, but he didn't have to keep calling me "Marketta" or indeed anything at all.) He dismissed his own numbers and talked about 18 months as a normal timescale for numbers to build up, making it sound like this "pilot" [due to end May 2012] is a fait accompli.

He went on to make the astounding claim:

There's very little difference between trail runners and walkers. Most trail runners were walkers: they've just decided that instead of doing 12 miles on their daily walk they could actually do 30 and see more of the National Trail.
See more and more of less and less, doing what damage on the way? These trails pass through fragile environments: let us show a little respect.

Meanwhile, signatures on Say no to Trailblaze have risen to over 330 and climbing daily. Each time Andrew Barker speaks on radio, their campaign gets a boost!

About July 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Jacquetta in July 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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