Women should feel safe to run on their favourite routes whenever they want.
WHEN I INTERVIEWED SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN
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!”