Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sad and angry: Protecting runners from dangers

Sarah Hart with family
First it happened to Sherry Arnold, runner and mom from Montana and now it has happened again to pregnant mom and runner, Sarah Hart from Kentucky.

Both women out for a run, pursuing health, fitness, maybe a few minutes of "me" time - only to be ripped violently and unnecessarily from their families and the world by predators.

I am deeply, profoundly saddened by these cases. My heart hurts for their families and the needless loss. But another part of me is SUPER PISSED OFF. Like, unshakably pissed off. Walking around with an attitude all day, pissed off.  These needless crimes just make me so angry. I can only imagine the emotions I would have if I was personally connected to these women.

I guess in some ways, this running community does make us somehow connected. I don't know.

I know life isn't fair. I realize that evil exists in this world but it still leaves me with an unshakeable anger.

Perhaps it's because these instances remind me that every time I choose to run outside alone, be it in broad daylight in my local park or the middle of the day around my town, I am vulnerable. We are vulnerable. And if you happen to have a vagina, you're extra vunerable… Although this is for good health, although the risk is small, we are putting ourselves at some risk… even if it's a small risk.

There is risk in everything of-course. I know. Car accidents, weird illnesses, wrong place/wrong time…

I'm refusing to let the anger and sadness paralyze me, rather, I'll have it fuel me. I'll remember these moms on my runs and maybe do some things differently than before.

I'm also going to take my safety more seriously.

We have to worry about all kinds of dangers out there, including traffic. Admittedly, I'm guilty of getting a few of these wrong. Here are some of the ways we can all be safer out there:

  • Buddy up. Grab a partner whenever possible. There is safety in numbers.
  • Bring your phone. Invest in an arm band or a fitness belt if you wish to remain hands free but having a phone can be vital if something goes wrong.
  • Inform others. Let someone know that you are leaving and report back. Let them know your route. If you don't check back in with them by a certain time they might be able to spring to action.
  • Travel in well-lit/populated areas. Avoid venturing out after dark or before the sun rises. Stick to areas with people so you can attract help if you need it.
  • ID. Wear an ID bracelet or carry your license. If possible, have an emergency contact number on you.
  • Self-defense. Know a few basic self-defense moves to stun attackers and buy some time if you need for escape. 
  • Pay attention. Blasting your favorite music might help you to get through your favorite workout but lower that volume so you can hear what's going on around you.
  • Be unpredictable. You never know if a predator is scoping you out. If they know that you'll pass a certain location every Tuesday morning at 8:00 AM, you could be putting yourself in danger.
  • Abide by traffic rules. Sadly, a runner was struck by a van in Colorado last week  when he crossed against the light.  He was a seasoned runner who has run NYC and Chicago. He just BQ'ed. If he would've waited for the walk sign, things might've been different.
Be safe out there.



AmberDawn said...

You have every right to be angry over this sort of horrible thing happening..in fact i cant imagine any person not feeling that way. I know that when i walk i take a couple of my dogs with me and carry a weapon..you can bet that if it comes to me or the other person they are gonna be on the losing end!

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

I've actually stopped running with my music (I might need it for longer runs eventually) because I don't feel safe not being able to hear anything. I have a great nature reserve near my house with a couple of trails, but back when I was in hs a girl went in with her boyfriend and almost didn't make it out alive. I have yet to go in there by myself.

Sara said...

Wow. I've been so out of it, I hadn't heard about Sarah until I just read your post. Thank you for sharing her story, but like you, I am so sad and angry this is happening.

You are right about the running community. It brings us together, and my heart hurts for the "real-world" family and friends of these women. It is not fair, it is not right, and it makes me sick to think about it.

I hope to remember them too when I am ready to run again.

Stay safe out there, BBFF! Thank you for the tips. Although I know them, it NEVER EVER hurts to be reminded!!!!