We’ve been here before. I remember a few years ago posting some safety tips for runners and then having a conversation with someone about how we should approach the issue of runner safety and it completely changed my view of how we should be looking at this.
The question is, why do we need to be anymore safe running than if we’re walking to the shops for instance? Why the need for extra precaution? The deeper question though is why should the onus be placed upon the innocent party / potential victim, rather than the arseholes who take the liberty of feeling las though they can attack or intimidate someone?
Again, we’ve been here before. Just look now at the way domestic violence and abuse towards women in particular is advertised here in Australia. There are still some very antiquated views that the onus should be on the innocent person/victim, such as:
‘Why don’t you just run away’?
‘Don’t wear that type of dress on a night out’
‘Be sure to not visit that area at that time’
The slant now is very much on getting to the root cause of these issues, i.e. the perpetrators. In the case of domestic violence and of teaching people, young boys for example, it’s about how to respect and behave properly towards women. The issue should not be placed upon the innocent party here.
We should be challenging society as a whole to stop people from being arseholes.
Is this too grandiose though? Am I being unrealistic? The fact is that anyone, male or female should not have to feel as though they should be taking extra precautions while out for a run. They are free and entitled to live their lives as they normally would without fear of attack, just as if you were headed down to the shops on your own.
Case in point. A rather crude example, but how do we approach the issue of littering? We don’t ask everyone to pick up everyone else’s litter or put more people on the streets to clean it up now do we? We target the perpetrators, and in this instance we quite literally tell them to stop being tossers.
*Note for everyone up in arms:
No one is saying do not be mindful, far from it. But be mindful as part of your everyday routine or going about your business. I accept that nothing is going to change overnight and that a degree of care is certainly required because there will always be arseholes about. As soon as we start having to adapt and change what we do because of others, we’re giving up the liberty and freedom that we have every right to enjoy and deserve. We have to change the way we approach these issues in society. Runners be mindful, yes, but let’s start having a conversation and pushing more of our efforts into educating people and stopping them from being arseholes first. This is where the bulk of our efforts need to be if we’re to start changing this and reducing the number of arseholes not just in our running community, but in society as a whole.
As such, I’ve pulled together my alternative set of guidelines, not for runner’s safety, but to all of the runners (and non-runners) out there who are arseholes. The good news is that in ultra running, we have relatively few arseholes, relative to the overall population. But if you’re a runner (or even if you’re not) and you’re reading this and a bit of an arsehole, here are my top tips for you:
- Trust your instincts
If you sense that you’re about to go up to a runner and start harassing them. Stop Now. Consider how much of an arsehole you’re going to be and how you have no right to make someone feel uncomfortable.
- Switch up your route
If you feel like you’re in the mood to attack a runner, I suggest you find a route where you’re unlikely to see anyone, preferably one where you might fall off a cliff edge so that you don’t bother anyone ever again.
- Invite a friend
There is always power in numbers. If you’re in the mood for a bit of fun with a female runner for example, take a mate along with you. Make sure they understand right from wrong and can punch you in the face when you’re about to attack some poor lonely person who’s just going about their daily business.
- Know your route, let someone know what it is and when you plan to return
It’s always good to let others know what you’re doing and when you’ll be back so that the police have no trouble finding you.
- Run in populated areas
If there are other runners around there is good chance that they will see what you’re doing if you try to attack someone. They can then come over and beat the crap out of you. It really helps us all of you’re visible.
- Run during the day
Stick to running during daylight hours as it’s much easier for us to see who you are for identification purposes.
- Carry identification
Whenever running alone, day or night, it’s important to carry identification so that we know who are and put you on a national list of arseholes for easier reference.
- Light up the night
Runners are hard to see at night and can be easily overlooked, this is a good thing. To make it even better, if you’re an arsehole, make sure you wear lots of lights so that we know to avoid you like the plague.