Women should feel safe to run on their favourite routes when­ever they want.

Runner's World South Africa - - Contents - LISA ABDELLAH DEPUTY ED­I­TOR @the north­ern run­ner


run­ners for our State Of The ( Women’s Run­ning) Na­tion Ad­dress, ev­ery sin­gle one of them ad­mit­ted they didn’t feel safe run­ning alone.

Me? I used to feel as though I live in a beau­ti­ful, safe Utopia. Most morn­ings, at 6am, I run along a beach­front prom­e­nade close to my home. In win­ter it’s pitch-dark at that time, but I‘ve never thought any­thing of it, be­cause there are plenty of other run­ners around and the route is well lit.

Un­til, last Satur­day morn­ing, I heard a scream. It came from a wo­man who lives in my block – she was be­ing held at knife­point by a thief, just out­side our en­trance gate, at the same time I usu­ally head out for my run!

While it was an iso­lated at­tack, the idea that it could hap­pen to any­one, in the blink of an eye, fright­ened me. Even more alarm­ing was the fact that – and I’m guess­ing I speak for a num­ber of other women run­ners – I wouldn’t ac­tu­ally know how to de­fend my­self if I was at­tacked.

So I con­tacted Kelee Ar­row­smith (CEO of ACT Per­sonal Safety) and Sanette Smit (owner of the Self De­fence Work­shop), who helped us put to­gether a safety video, packed with ex­pert ad­vice, that will help you pre­pare for a hos­tile sit­u­a­tion (visit runnersworld.


Olympic medal­list Elana Meyer was an ob­server at one of Sanette’s work­shops, held for her ath­letes at the En­duro­cad SA En­durance Academy. Soon af­ter, Elana was out run­ning on a pop­u­lar path when she was grabbed, and a knife was held to her throat. Re­mem­ber­ing what she’d learned, she reached into her pocket, grabbed her re­mote and threw it on the ground. While the thief was dis­tracted, she man­aged to get away.

The ma­jor­ity of RW read­ers are women, and our par­tic­i­pa­tion in races is grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially. In this is­sue, we cel­e­brate hero­ines – elites such as Elana, Blanche Moila and No­lene Con­rad, for sure; but ev­ery­day wo­man run­ners who have achieved ex­tra­or­di­nary things also in­spire us.

But we can’t con­tinue their legacy if we live in fear. It’s time we put our safety first. Be­cause we de­serve to run, with con­fi­dence, on our favourite routes, when­ever we damn well want to!

“It’s time we put our safety first. Be­cause we de­serve to run when­ever we damn well want to!”

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