Natural England has set a deadline of 7 September to receive evidence for evaluating Trailblaze, the metal boxes that were installed on 8 National Trails to encourage endurance runners to compete on timed runs. Here is the one installed at Bloworth Crossing, that bleak, beautiful, remote place visited by both Wainwright's Coast to Coast and the Cleveland Way. Does the white box look out of place to you? If so, please consider signing the petition at Say No to Trailblaze.
Even if you have already signed, please click the Updates tab on the protest website for further news. Although I've blogged about it before, I make no apology for raising it again. The more people that sign the protest, the more likely that Natural England will have to admit its mistake and remove the boxes. Their so-called "pilot" installed 99 boxes for 18 months, which seems needlessly large-scale for evaluation purposes. Time is running out, so please forward the link if you know anybody else who may care about the impact of these boxes on the National Trails that they disfigure.
The photo above was taken of a clean box just after it was installed. Some are now rusting, others are home to cigarette butts, chewing gum and even snails. In an era of smartphones, GPS and indeed wristwatches, why do runners need these fixed, battery-backed boxes?
Over the last 16 months, a total of only 207 people have used this scheme on all 8 trails put together. The cost of installing them has been estimated at £50,000. Of that amount, about 75% was public money from one source or another. So about three-quarters of the £242 cost per Trailblaze run (on average) has been contributed by the hard-pressed taxpayer. Does that seem like good value for money?