Wellington Pacers Rosebank Plog

Wellington Pacers Rosebank Plog

Plogging is a combination of jogging with picking up litter (Swedish: plocka upp). (Wikipedia)

The Wellington Pacers lunchtime running group (based at Wellington Place) have been active for 7 months now but we continue to strive to design routes to help participants explore Leeds. Running isn’t actually the prime focus; every day activity, understanding what is around us and community are the driving forces.

At the beginning of September we polled for interest in doing a litter pick – this immediately picked up lots of interest so was a clear goer. Setting a date of 3 weeks ahead, Richard set about designing how this would occur.

The first step was to decide on a few candidate locations which would fit our bounds. We have around 50 minutes and typically cover 3 miles as a base distance (stronger runners loop and add extra). However, a worthwhile pick needed to be 15-20 minutes so the location had to be within 10-15 minutes i.e. 1 mile or so.

Since Richard cycles most places as a transport mode, he used that opportunity to view various locations for litter levels, safety and likely ownership. This lead to being a little surprised – how hard it was to find a public location with litter near Leeds – so clean! Canal, riverside and parks all so tidy. However, an initial candidate was eventually found.

The next step was the tooling logistics. It’s preferable not to carry the equipment during the main running portion therefore as a baseline plan, just this once Richard would park nearby with the tools and afterwards load up with the waste to take for disposal.

Now to improve on that approach, it was time to contact Leeds City Council waste department – ‘Clean Leeds‘. It’s fair to assume, communication responsiveness of large organisations can often be a little frustrating…this was NOT the case with the Leeds waste department – one email explaining our plan and a query whether they could help, received a response 2 hours later saying they could, plus would happily supply all the necessary tooling and remove the waste. So applause goes to them.

OK, so we now have enough of an action plan in place for an event to go ahead, it’s time to see if it can be improved. The chosen location was quite close to Wellington Place so further running would need to be designed. Now with less than a week to go, Richard continued scouring the area – this time walking 10 miles on foot, combining a few chores whilst searching for more potential locations.

Remembering about Rosebank – a small bank side park we already run past when traversing on Woodhouse Moor routes, less than 1 mile out of Leeds city centre. Upon inspection it was clear that the litter levels were just about right to occupy a group but also to make a difference within 20 minutes. The additional benefit realised on this inspection was that a community orchard was there, so it felt like we would be helping out a volunteer group – all a perfect fit.

The question was, now with only 4 days to go, had it been left too late to arrange things with Clean Leeds?…. once again a resounding thumbs up to the waste team; one email and 30 minutes later everything was arranged and set up for the event.

The plan now consisted of a 1 mile run out including a lovely set of steps (109 I believe), meet the Clean Leeds team at the site, 20 minutes plog, then the 1 mile back. Simple.

Richard had managed to find a contact for the community group who looks after area, so made a courtesy call to ensure they were happy with our group attending – which they were.

On plog day, the sun was shining and we had 3 run leaders to cover the event and risk assessment covered off specific for the location. In order to support any lunchtime runners who only wished to run and not litter pick, the plan was for one leader to supervise a subgroup continuing on to Woodhouse Moor for a couple of laps before rejoining the main group. However, as it turned out, everyone was happy to plog anyway (no pressure).

Everything played out like clockwork – a nice sweat inducing run (one or two did reps on the steps!), met up with waste team who provided the equipment, perfect opportunity for everyone to explore the garden/orchard park whilst litter picking, photos then a 1 mile return. All accompanied by the usual best practice warm-ups and stretches. The participants had even still covered 5k including the ascending the bank side several times.

Seventeen people and twenty minutes knocked out 16 bags of picked litter plus a large rusty chain. All from an area which only looked on the surface, lightly littered.

As a final wrap-up, the community group were sent a few photos of the activities and returned their appreciated thanks, which were passed on to the running group. This also provided a highlight that if anyone wished to help the Rosebank community group further, they now know who to contact.