ED­I­TOR’S LETTER

Runner's World (UK) - - Editor's Letter - ANDY DIXON ED­I­TOR @Rw_ed_andy

AFTER LEARN­ING THAT AL­MOST HALF OF UK

fe­male run­ners have ex­pe­ri­enced some form of harassment while out do­ing their miles (see our Run­ning while fe­male re­port on page 40), I told my wife how shocked I was at this statis­tic. She al­most mat­ter-of-factly re­counted the oc­ca­sions when it had hap­pened to her. I was stunned and, be­cause I felt like I’d had my eyes opened to such a long-stand­ing is­sue, em­bar­rassed. I’ve run lots of times with women and I don’t re­mem­ber wit­ness­ing a sin­gle of­fence. But the women re­ceiv­ing this abuse aren’t run­ning with men. Most of­ten, they’re run­ning alone and men are the ag­gres­sive ha­rassers.

Our re­port raises all kinds of un­com­fort­able is­sues but of­fers no easy so­lu­tions, be­cause there aren’t any. Gen­der-based harassment is a com­plex so­cial prob­lem, not just a run­ning prob­lem. But run­ning is sup­posed to be an es­cape from every­day stres­sors. Now I know that isn’t al­ways true for some, and I’m grap­pling with what to do with that new, un­pleas­ant knowl­edge.

Talk­ing openly about on-the-run harassment – and its preva­lence – is a step in the right di­rec­tion. At the very least, it might lead to greater em­pa­thy and aware­ness, es­pe­cially among male run­ners. Even if women can’t be spared this odi­ous treat­ment out on the roads, I hope it’s help­ful to know they aren’t alone. Run­ners are a tribe, and all of us can agree that such be­hav­iour is de­plorable and can­not go un­chal­lenged.

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