Kim Clark shares her tips on runner safety

In the United States, in August 2020, just 17 days apart, Sydney Sutherland and Sarmistha Sen were killed while jogging, in broad daylight, in public places. After the second attack, I was surprised not to see mainstream media coverage of this. Two women murdered, in just 17 days. Where was the outrage and anger at this? Women’s safety matters. It felt like the mainstream news completely glossed over this.

That made me realize that we had to be the ones to talk about women’s safety and advocate for ourselves. We had to be the ones to share with the younger and newer runners how to stay safe and aware and get home from their races safely. No one else is going to do it for us.

Everything about this bothered me: the lack of coverage, the victim blame that inevitably happens, the fact that these women took all the necessary precautions. Probably all women take these precautions unconsciously at this point: run in well-lit places, in public places, run covered, run with ears open to listen, run aware of who is around us, change the route if something feels doubtful , do not keep your Strava or Runkeeper location public, etc. It is so ingrained in our being. And isn’t it sad that it’s a necessary part of our race to make sure we get home alive?

This should not be the case.

I recently shared my thoughts on this topic in running for women instagram account The impact was more than we imagined. Within 24 hours it had become the most shocking publication. running for women had ever shared. This showed me how widespread the problem of harassment and abuse is. It’s not going to go away and we need to keep talking about it.

While acknowledging the reality of concerns, it is important to keep the narrative front and center, to talk about what they can do, and recruit allies to further spread the narrative that it is unacceptable as a society to harass or assault any other human being. Period.

Invite allies to help

As a community of runners we can be allies of each other. This includes male, female, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ runners. We are a powerful group together. Adidas recently they realized an opportunity to use their running club groups for good: to educate the male runners in their clubs on how to help women run safely. This is just one example we can all consider of how we can use our running groups, communities, and schools to be part of the narrative.

RELATED: Adidas hopes to address female safety by involving male runners

Precautions brokers can take

While we continue to defend the change process, it also makes no sense to stick your head in the sand when it comes to rider safety; we cannot ignore the bases of common sense.

Here are some safety precautions for brokers to keep in mind

  • Pay attention.
  • Always tell someone you trust where you are going (the route) and what time they expect you back. Garmin now has a private location sharing setting that you can share with your family so they know where you are on your run if needed.
  • Bring pepper spray.
  • Run in well-lit and populated areas. Run near houses/residential areas/parks so there are people around.
  • Run with a friend.
  • If you have a bad feeling, always follow your instincts and get out.
  • Run with your phone.
  • Wear bright colors, be seen.
  • Don’t take the same route every day and limit sharing your common running routes on social media.
  • If the sun is super bright, make sure you’re on the side of the road where cars can see you.
  • Racing cars is a defensive game. Assume drivers are distracted and always be alert. For training, I run on pedestrian circuits so I don’t have to worry about cars.
  • Run on the left side and watch out for cars turning right.
  • Take a self-defense class to be more prepared in case you’re ever at risk.
  • Wear lights/reflective vest for low light racing.
  • On your phone, turn on “Find My Friends” so people can see where you are.
  • Periodically turn around and see what is happening behind you.

moving the needle

It is very important to share broker safety precautions. I take the time to always share about things going on within our community, for us to be mindful and protective and to honor the lives of our sisters in sports.

However, I also want to find out how we can prevent these events from happening. Every woman deserves to go running and enjoy peace without fear of not coming home. We deserve to run without whistles and intimidation.

There is no easy answer here. Instead of complacency and acceptance that concern for our safety is something we deal with, we should get angry when we hear this is happening to one of our fellow runners.

We need to continue demanding that the media get involved and cover these events. We need to demand that our legislators get involved and help protect women. We need to raise our children to respect all women. We need to figure out how we can be part of the solution so we can protect our sisters.

Women are important. We matter. Violence against women is not someone else’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem.

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