Women’s safety while running

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17/05/2014 at 20:42

When I worked at a running shop, it quickly became apparent to me that a lot of my female customers suffered harassment, and even assault while out running.  These incidents were occurring in areas where I and my male colleagues ran without any problems from one year to the next. 

The purpose of this thread is to ask how widespread the problem is, and what can be done about it? 

seren nos    pirate
17/05/2014 at 20:49

I have heard as manyt stories of men getting harrassed as women......

 some people seem to get upset by someone beeping their horn or shouting out of a window......

whilst most just ignore it as messing around.....

i would not call it harassment

 to me harassment is someone blocking my way and trying to stop me continuing.never ever had that happen


so can you clarify exactly in what way the harassment stories you have heard amount to

17/05/2014 at 21:15

I agree with Seren,

Personally, I've never heard of anyone being physically assaulted and only a few instances of anything being said that was malicious. Most of it seems to be stupid comments from stupid people who are best ignored.

I'm not saying that women should have  put up with it and I'm not surprised they find it annoying - even intimidating - but I don't think there are many people out there that genuinely want to do harm to female runners. 

And, as Seren also says, from what I've read on here, male runners seem to get their fair share of comments too - perhaps it's just that women are more upset by it?

Edited: 17/05/2014 at 21:21
17/05/2014 at 21:27

Don’t get me wrong, I have to put up with fat people shouting abuse at me like every other runner. 

Some of the incidents that my female customers told me about, went well beyond that.   

17/05/2014 at 21:45
Where was the shop?
Maybe your chances of being harassed were going to be high regardless of whether you are a runner or not.
17/05/2014 at 21:54

The shop was in Leicester. 

The incidents took place along the canal, which was a major running highway, but also frequented in places by drug addicts and other undesirables. 

17/05/2014 at 21:56

I used to run with a young women runner as a means of providing protection.

I was asked to do this.

To say I took pride in this task would be putting it mildly. She was a national champion, I was a lowly club runner who never even made county level.


17/05/2014 at 21:57
But we're they just harrassing female runners or just females in general?
cougie    pirate
17/05/2014 at 22:05
I've never heard of any women runners I know being harassed. I'm not counting beeps or nobe shouting out of car windows cos everyone gets that.

I think the fear of it is far more prevalent than the actual minuscule risk.
17/05/2014 at 22:24

I suspect the latter Millsy. 

Obviously female runners need to cover a lot of ground, so they are more likley to put themselves in harms way. 

17/05/2014 at 22:33
What do you propose is done about it?
If I was getting harassed I'd avoid that area and probably tell the police.
17/05/2014 at 22:50

There may be an issue of people not reporting it, as you suggest. 

Personal alarms are light enough for a runner to conveniently carry, and would be an effective defence mechanism. 

17/05/2014 at 23:01

I think a lot of it comes down to perceived threat rather than actual threat. Its a bit like when you hear people say how everyones getting burgled and mugged and then you ask them 'Have you ever been burgled or mugged?' and the answer is invariably 'no'.

The media whip people up into a state of panic with constant 'crime statistics' and then people carry that fear with them so the minute someone coughs behind them, they think it could be someone about to launch an attack.

Case in point Ben, you are talking about a canal towpath ...... not exactly an area renowned for landed gentry walking up and down, doffing their cap at you as you pass.

18/05/2014 at 07:00

I worked a stretch of a canal in London about two years ago, busy with bikes, runners and houseboats etc....we had a large amount of what Ben talks about happening. It even went as far as some sexual assaults with females being groped (sp?) whilst running. It seemed the cause was a  mix of sunshine, alcohol and groups of boys, who would start of with shouting out at runners, running along side, obstructing the path and ultimately physical assaults. 

What it took was people to report it to the police, and we were able to deal with it

18/05/2014 at 10:29

I run past the druggy-drunks on my local canal path and never get any hassle. I have walked past them a few times and received verbal abuse and intimidating gestures.
Basically I feel safer and less of a target when I'm running - despite the fact that I'd clearly be too knackered to escape an incident should one occur!

18/05/2014 at 10:42

Never been harassed, had the odd drunk and kids shout things as i went past, that ain't harassment. Once had a drunk try to paw me when helping me up after I face planted by a pub, again not harassment, even though he was pissed out of his skull, at least he came to offer help unlike anyone else  

18/05/2014 at 11:57
I find the drunks and druggies by my local cannal
friendly and I always get a hello.
I have years ago had a guy in a car follow me and then drop back then follow me again. I twigged this he was pleasuring himself. I crossed the road and then he couldn't follow me. I didn't report it as I didn't make a note of the car reg as I was more concerned with getting away and being safe.
18/05/2014 at 12:04

A group of men tried to block my way when I was out running near a canal a few years ago, they tried to grab hold of me and became very abusive when they couldn't catch me and I told them (from a safe distance) what cowards they were. I would call that harassment. I've had blokes try to slap my arse when I've been out running, I would call that harassment too. It might just be a bit of fun for them as they show off in front of their mates but it's not fun for me. Since moving to a different city I've had hardly any abuse at all, it's a real relief. Oh I've just remembered this - a couple of teenage boys on bikes tried to intimidate me a few weeks ago, they were of course shouting sexist abuse and kept circling me, cycling up onto the pavement etc. But I was quite pumped so I chased them and tried to push one off his bike, I'm only 5 foot 2 and weigh 105lbs so it was real daftness on my part but it made me feel better to at least give them a bit of a shock.

18/05/2014 at 12:18

I have never had any harassment. I don't run on canal paths either!


18/05/2014 at 12:22

Oh and last year a friend of mine was running in one of the London parks and was jumped, punched in the face and left with a broken eye socket...


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