Earlier this month, tragedy hit the sports community as two young, aspiring athletes were killed while using a pedestrian crossing during a night time training session with their club in Hampshire.
Long-distance runners Stacey Burrows, 16, and Lucy Pygott, 17, had followed the instructions of their club leaders to ensure they used the pedestrian crossing safely, but unfortunately that was not enough.
This cautionary tale reminds runners everywhere of the dangers of the road. Runners must be careful as winter approaches and the days become darker earlier. All we can do to prevent such tragic events occurring is to make ourselves as visible as possible to drivers and learn the road safety rules.
Between 1980 and 2011 the number of marathon runners alone rose from 143,000 to over 500,000, so there will have been an increased use of pavements and roads just for training. Running in general has also rapidly increased in popularity, especially since the inception of organisations such as Park Run, Couch to 5km and Midnight Runners. Many people are restrained by time, so the only time they can exercise is in the evenings after work or school. If this sounds like you, try and find a friend or club to run with as statistics show 66% of collision accidents happen to people running alone.
One option for running with others is to try sports brands such as Sweatshop, Runner’s Need, Nike and Asics, who organise London running clubs. These clubs encourage people to become involved in running by providing a free group to be part of, with regular training opportunities, and sometimes with incentives such as in-store benefits. Contact local stores for more details about where and when to meet up, the distances vary from 5km-10km and can be in the morning, lunchtime or evenings.
There are a number of other running clubs around London (check the links at the end of the article for more ideas), and remember to check out your University athletics club, as these usually numerous training sessions at various times. Most clubs have Facebook pages or websites set up with details, or ask your Student Union for details on training sessions available to you.
Aside from running in groups, reflective clothing is the best way to make yourself more visible as a runner on the road, and it comes in all forms. If you want to keep it simple (i.e. cheap) make sure you wear a reflective jacket/vest and a hat. Accessories like these can also double up to both improve your safety and keep you warm in the harsh winter weather.
This promotional video by illumiNITE demonstrates the effectiveness of a reflective kit:
More examples of kit are as follows:
Whilst it’s usually safer to try and run off-road, during the winter months, trails and country footpaths can become muddy, icy, and pitch black due to lack of lampposts. Many runners are forced onto roadside pavements and highways.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe while on or near roads:
- Wear bright and reflective gear to ensure a 360 degree visibility
- Always run against traffic so oncoming traffic can see you, and more importantly, you can see them
- Try and stay on pavements as statistics show a less likelihood of casualties off-road
- Plan your route
- Run single file on roads when in a group
- Stick to well-lit areas if possible (i.e., local running tracks, pavements with lampposts, town centres)
- Always assume the driver doesn’t see you and be aware of ALL surrounding traffic
- Run with others
- Bring a form of ID or your phone
- If you must listen to music while running, tun the volume lower so you can hear your surroundings
Useful links to check out:
RunningSafe: the Road Safety Awareness Campaign for Runners
www.runbritain.com – Running races and road running information
Midnight runners: An example of a London running group with evening training options
UCL athletics website as an example of a University athletics club site with information on running with other students.