04 March 2007
Birmingham’s International Visitors Enjoy Canal Runs
Journalists, spectators and officials visiting Birmingham for the European
About 30 runners took up the offer of escorted runs around the city’s canals over the three days of the championships from countries including
As part of the championship’s hospitality programme local club runners accompanied the visitors alongside the Worcester and Birmingham; the Birmingham and Fazeley and the New Main Line canals in the city centre.
Brian Stocks, head of sport at the city council and Championships Director, said “With so many running enthusiasts in the city, this was a fantastic opportunity to promote the city’s canal network and provide some guided runs for our visitors. I am delighted that these were taken up and would like to thank runners at Birchfield Harriers, Tipton Harriers and Sparkhill Harriers for their support.”
The canal run routes retrace the steps of two legends that made British running great - Ian Stewart and David Bedford.
Birmingham’s Ian Stewart, the only man in history to have won the World Cross Country Championships and a European Indoor Championship gold medal in the same year, and David Bedford, the former world 10,000 metres record holder and the runner who saved British Athletics in the seventies, used the canals for training runs and this culminated in their incredible performances.
Stewart first discovered what a great training ground the canal paths could be when he was working as a gunsmith for the 1812 established Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House. He stumbled upon this then much-neglected resource, once the highways of the Industrial Revolution, whilst working on the docking bay used for loading guns onto canal barges.
Ian Stewart helped the Local Organising Committee to put together the three routes, which were profiled during the European Athletics Indoor Championships and it is hoped that these routes will now become a legacy of the event and be popular with local people as well as visitors to the city.