Runner Safety Tips & Personal Safety Gear

A couple of weeks ago I was able to attend the Runner Safety Forum hosted by the team at runCLTrun. After attending the City Council meeting late last year where Lisa Landrum and Billy Shue spoke to advocate for greater support for runner safety in Charlotte, it was empowering to hear the work that is being done in our community to increase runner safety and raise awareness of the issue (increased police presence on Greenways, best practices at run clubs, solar powered blue lights at Greenway entrances, etc.).

Detective Lawrence of the Sexual Assault unit was invited to this forum who was able to provide some valuable insights and suggestions to help improve runner safety in the area. A key reminder from detective Lawrence was that it’s impossible to prevent every attack, but there are things we can do to mitigate the risks when it comes to running.

I know you may have heard these before, but the message can’t be shared enough and it’s important to re-familiarize yourself with these actions to improve your own safety and the safety of others when running:

Preventative Actions

  • Share your location of your run with others
  • Switch up your route when possible
  • Run without headphones (or at minimum headphones that allow you to hear your surroundings). An example was given of a runner who heard footsteps behind her and turned around to see someone about to attack her and was able to get her safety device out in time to protect herself.
  • Scan the area you are running in as you go. Does this look safe? Does anything look unusual?

Take Action, Trust Your Gut

If you feel uncomfortable or if something seems odd, trust your gut. The example they gave was perhaps seeing someone in a hoody (hood up) on the greenway in the summer heat, or spotting someone you don’t normally see on your route acting unusual. In those moments it’s best to try and move to a location with traffic where you can be seen or get help if needed (that may involve awkwardly turning around).

In these situations it can also help to take actions that will deter a suspect:

  • Get your phone out and call someone. Verbalize the situation to them.
  • Look confident
  • Make it seem like you are waiting for someone (or someone is just behind you)

It’s Okay To Say ‘No’

If a stranger asks to use your phone, or stops to ask you for help (directions etc.) it’s okay to just say ‘sorry’ and move on if you feel uncomfortable. You don’t have to be nice in these situations, your safety comes first.

Carry a safety device with you and most importantly KNOW HOW TO USE IT!!

This could be:

Practice using this device so you are prepared if an incident arises. Do you know how to unlock your pepper spray? Do you know how to operate the taser?

Run in groups

Try to coordinate with friends or other runners in the area to either run together or at least run on the same loop/area and ask each other to keep an eye out for them.

Can you connect with a local run club. You may even meet someone who you can run with outside of the run club time too. You can find a list of local run club on the Charlotte Running Club page.

Flow Motion in partnership with RunNC hosts a weekly run from Open Tap every Tuesday at 6:30pm. Additionally Flow Motion Athlete, Anne Fechtel hosts the Legion Brewery Run Club (Southpark) every Wednesday at 6:30pm too.

Give comfort to others runners

When out on your run, acknowledge others around you. Let them know that they have been seen. This can be a quick hello, nod of the head, good morning, great job etc.

Make Noise

If you are attacked (and I really hope this never happens, but it’s best to be prepared)

Make some noise – Scream, yell, shout. The detective gave an example of someone being grabbed on a Greenway and a truck driver who happened to be driving by on the bridge above with his window down heard the screams and thankfully went down to investigate and disruptive the attack.

This post is not intended to scare you, but it’s important to be prepared and know the steps you can take to protect yourself. Unfortunately we live in a world where bad things happen, and we need to do our best to mitigate this.



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