‘Our Backpackers Blue Plaque Challenge involves splitting into small teams and trying to find as many English Heritage blue plaques as possible,’ says Leeanne Adu, Community Captain of Backpackers (instagram.com/backpackersclc), a running group that runs from the ASICS store on London’s Regent Street each Thursday. ‘You get points for every plaque you find (you get even more points for rarer green or brown plaques) and have to take a group photo with each one. I always come away with a list of names to look up to understand their impact and how they became worthy of a blue plaque.
‘I really love treasure hunts, but they can be quite hard to organise on the busy, central London streets our group runs on, so we needed checkpoints of “treasure” that were already in place and easy to access. I wanted our runners to relax, take in their surroundings and forget they were running. We all remember the fun we had playing as kids and how time just zoomed by, so I applied that concept to our runs. Part of the ethos of Backpackers is that it’s not about distance but about getting out there, so I try to encourage our members to take off their watches, stop worrying about pace, distance or time and just focus on having fun!’
02 RESEARCH YOUR LOCAL AREA
‘I’ve lived in Croydon for 25 years, but it wasn’t until I started running that I really got to know it,’ says Graham Williams. ‘To make my training more interesting, I set out to get to know the neighborhood and then research where I’d been afterward. One of the places I ran through was Surrey Street Market and I was amazed to discover not only that it’s been trading since 1276, but that it inspired one of my favourite songs, Streets of London (‘Have you seen the old man/In the closed down market/Kicking up the papers/With his worn out shoes?’ is a reference to it). I’ve also stumbled across the house where Cecily Mary Barker lived when she wrote her world-famous Flower Fairies books.’
03 TURN IT INTO A GAME
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