The Richmond running community — and community at large — is mourning the loss of Meg Cross Menzies, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while running.
To honor Meg, over 61,000 runners (and counting!) around the world are running Saturday, January 18 to honor Meg’s life and to raise awareness of drunken driving, texting and driving, and the safety of runners and cyclists. [For more info, or if you’re interested in joining the event and running for Meg, use the hashtag #megsmiles and visit the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/events/489458451159627/]
I didn’t know Meg, but I do know that she was a mom of three, the wife of a police officer, a Boston Marathoner, and a talented, dedicated runner. Her death is a tragic reminder that while running, walking, and cycling are all great ways to exercise, they can also be dangerous.
Here are some important running/pedestrian safety tips to consider every time you hit the pavement.
This is in no way a commentary on Meg Menzie’s actions. From everything I’ve read, Meg was an experienced runner who was struck despite the best running practices.
1. Never wear headphones
I know, I know, running is boring. It’s monotonous and tiring and music or podcasts or whatever helps pass the miles. But headphones are dangerous because you simply are not as alert if you can’t hear what’s going on around you. This is sort of polarizing because some people LOVE running with music, and I’ve even read research that says running with music helps you run faster. But I just can’t shake how dangerous it is to block out your surroundings. I saw three runners, all wearing earbuds, dart in front of a car in a busy road this fall. If you’re bored running, run indoors with headphonesor find a running partner..
Running with friends is more fun anyway.
2. Run on the left side of the street
My high school running cross country ingrained this practice so strongly that I’ve never, in more than 15 years of running, run on the right side of the road and I cringe when I see someone on the right side of the road. It might seem counterintuitive, but you’re safer if you can see the cars coming and they can see you.
3. Wear bright clothing
Especially in the morning/evening, go as bright, reflective, neon, and obnoxious as you can. Cars can’t avoid you if they can’t see you. My parents wear flashing lights when they walk and I used to think they were so lame. Now I’m like, where did you guys get those things?
4. Never assume drivers see you
Even if you’re glowing, you can’t assume a driver sees you. Take care of yourself, give yourself a wide berth and get out of the way of oncoming cars. Assume drivers are in a hurry, distracted, or texting. Or, in Meg’s case, allegedly drinking on his way to work at 8 a.m. when he swerved off the road.
5. Carry ID or a phone
I was mountain biking once and took a scary spill. I was by myself but had just passed a family hiking in the woods. Even though I screamed, the family didn’t come back to check on me. I was fine — the wreck wasn’t serious — but it scared me enough that I knew I needed to carry ID. Even if you don’t have an accident, it’s good to have a few emergency numbers handy (since no one memorized numbers anymore…) even if something minor happens like getting caught in a storm. Ever since that mountain biking experience I’ve worn an ID tag clipped on my shoelaces. I got mine free at a local running store, but you can get nicer ones here.
6. Make sure someone knows where you are
These days I usually run with my two children, a friend, her daughter, her labrador, most of the characters from Sesame Street, and the entire cast of Thomas the Tank Engine. But I used to run by myself every single day. Running is an awesome solitary activity, but it’s a good idea to tell someone what you’re doing, where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone.
If you go for a run Saturday, take a moment to pray for Meg’s family as they grieve. Or actually, just do that anyway. And stay safe out there.
Did I miss anything? What are some good safety standards you practice?