October 2, 2014
Personal safety is often a concern for women when they first start out, yet once your confidence increases it can often take a back seat and before you know it you are setting off in the dark, alone and without a phone.
Well apparently not. Last night I went along to my running club (after a break of about 10 weeks) and we set off in the dark, a group of about 60 people of varying speeds.
I had picked two friends up on route, one of them Natalie announced she had left her phone at home but she wouldn’t be needing it and I thought nothing more of it.
Now I am ALWAYS at the back, running with the resident back runner of East London Runners Don so for me there is rarely the opportunity to get lost, but I often fear for the individuals just ahead of me who potentially could lose sight of the people in front and take a wrong turning.
Last night though there was another slower lady who had come along for the first time, and after about 10 minutes or so she caught up with me to tell me that Don had been forced to turn back with a niggling hamstring…so we were in effect the back runners.
It worked kind of OK really as we run at a similar speed and agreed to cut a small looped section out so that we would get back to base around the same time as most of the other runners. I enjoyed the run which in the end turned out to be just short of 8K in 57 minutes.
Once back at base I expected to find Natalie waiting for us as she is quite speedy, and as we stood there chatting about the run I started to wonder where the hell she was. Twenty minutes later I really started to worry, knowing that something must have happened because by now an hour and a half had passed and she runs a 10K in just a little more than an hour.
So let’s think about the facts…out on the route, no phone, no money, possibly running by herself, in the dark. Hmmmm this was not good.
Another half hour passed and a couple of runners had gone back on the course to try and locate her. I had to phone her Nan (who she lives with) to let her know what was happening, because it was now 9.30 and we should have been back an hour ago.
We see a guy in a red vest run around the corner, “You’re friend is OK” he shouted, “She’s taken a fall though and is making her way back with another runner” a few minutes later we spotted her hobbling round the corner.
She had tripped on a drain and gone over on her ankle crashing down on the pavement. Luckily another runner Wayne was nearby to help her up. A third runner agreed to run back to base and get his car so he could pick her up and drive her back, but can you believe it…he got lost.
So after 20 minutes of waiting they had decided to hobble back.
She didn’t have her phone and she didn’t know my number by heart, neither her nor Wayne were carrying any money or an Oyster card and I guess when you are running as part of a group it is easy to get complacent and not pay attention to the safety precautions you may take when running alone, yet the dangers are still there.
Check out our Staying Safe section of the website, but some other things to consider
- Carry a laminated card with important phone numbers and who to contact in an emergency
- Carry some cash, a £5 note can be used as a down-payment for a Taxi, a £1 coin can pay for a bottle of water or used in a telephone box
- Carry a mobile phone, even if it is a cheap pay as you go (make sure it has credit and battery)
- Memorize the number of your local taxi station
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help (shopkeeper, pedestrian, car user, 999)
- Run with someone else
And do not rely on just one of these, think what would happen if I was unconscious, what would happen if I dropped and smashed my phone, or if I was disoriented and couldn’t remember anything. Also do not think that having someone with you by itself is enough, remember neither Natalie or the two other runners that passed her had mobile phones.
I have spoken to Natalie this morning and she is in good spirits despite the fact she is now in plaster cast with a suspected fracture. I am thankful that nothing more sinister happened but it just illustrates how important having an emergency plan is. I am sure she will be back on her feet and back running soon, but I bet you she will never head out without her phone again.
So remember ladies your safety is paremount when out running whether running alone or with others so always ask yourself “Whats the worst that could happen?” and make sure you have a robust plan in place that everyone knows about.
Do you have any extra advice for minimising risk while out running, particularly through the winter months