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The centre of Birmingham is at the hub of a nineteenth century canal network and if you're staying in the city centre the canal towpaths give you good traffic-free running routes. I like the Birmingham to Worcester canal which heads south from the city centre. Much of the tow path has been renovated in recent years and is good even in the wettest weather. You get on the canal at Gas Street Basin which is close to the Convention Centre and city centre hotels. There is plenty to see at the Basin as there are always colourful houseboats moored there, the various canals are crossed by cast iron bridges and it is overlooked by new restaurants and bars. Take the towpath along the Birmingham to Worcester canal on the opposite side to the Convention Centre (it may be sign posted for Birmingham University, Selly Oak and Bournville). After a few 100 metres the canal bends sharp right and goes past Sherbourne Wharf. The canal is then fairly straight and within a short distance the buildings disappear on the left side of the canal to be replaced by a leafy bank and a railway line runs parallel on your right. You pass under a few small road bridges and after about 2.5 km you pass through the Edgbaston tunnel. The tunnel is about 60 m long but is well-lit, the path is good and there is a safety rail along the waters edge - you shouldn't have to slow up much. After you emerge from the tunnel, the canal curves round to your left and you will soon see the campus of Birmingham University on your left. If you don't want a completely flat run, you can cross the canal at the next small arched bridge and go into the Vale site where the student halls of residence are. This is slightly hilly park land and you can easily do a loop of 1-2 km on the grass around the outside of the site and past the small lake. If you stay on the canal past the lake, you pass a large University sign on your left, and you will see the centre of the University with its large red brick clocktower, Old Joe. If you go up the wooden steps from the canal by the University railway station (which is about 4.5 - 5 km from Gas Street Basin) and turn left, you head down into the centre of the campus and you can run a loop around the University ring road or through the central precinct and under the clock tower in front of the Great Hall. If you stay on the canal, in another 4 km or so you pass alongside the Cadburys chocolate factory in Bournville and if the wind is in the right direction you get a wonderful smell of chocolate. The disadvantage of the route is that it is essentially an out and back route although you can add the loops in at the University (or the short loop around Gas Street basin). The canal continues for miles past Bournville and into the countryside but if you want to go further or try the other canals from the city centre, I'd recommend a free map from the Tourist Office. You usually see a few other runners from the city centre or the university and the occasional cyclist or walker. Other good places to run on the southern edge of the city include the Lickey Hills country park and the nearby Waseley Hills country park.