Race Safety

I read Sarah’s story and it reminded me of my first half marathon. Husband and I had a plan to meet back at home after my first half if I didn’t see him at the finish line, but I didn’t take my keys, because he would be home and we would meet there and we lived a half a mile from the race. I finished. I didn’t see Husband. I walked a half mile to our apartment, where I expected him to be. I rang the doorbell. Twice. I banged on the door. No answer. I waited for ten minutes for him to come back. I got very cold. I rang the doorbell again. No answer.

I walked back to the finish line at the stadium, thinking I had missed him. No husband. Kept looking. No husband. Walked home, thinking he had walked home where I had missed him. Rang bell. No husband. No toenails at this point. Sat on steps, ate potato chips, wondered where husband was. Eventually, out of total desperation, shivering, crying, I rang the bell again and then banged, really hard, on the door. Two minutes later, husband opened the door, looked at me, and said, "oh, you’re done!"

I still hold that there is not a jury that would have convicted me had I chosen to take some kind of violent action.

I have a few safety rules with running which I have refined through several similar experiences.

1) Have a meeting point. Set it before you leave the house. Make sure both of you are aware exactly where the meeting point is, and approximately what time you will meet there. Several races provide meeting points. Meet at them. Try to agree on a time. Agree on a time that if you can’t find each other, you will both return home or to the car after. Make sure you have their bib number and vice versa so that you can check and see if they have crossed the finish line, if it’s a chip-timed race.

2) Have money. I keep a $20 in my shoe between my insole and my sole at all times. Do the same. For me, $20 is enough that I could take a cab home from pretty much anywhere in the city, should I need it. It will also get you a metro ride home or a cup of hot cocoa after a ten-miler in the pouring rain.

3) Carry your phone if you can stand it. I have recently started taking my cell phone for longer runs and it makes me feel safer. Get a SPI belt or an armband so that you can carry it without it bothering you. My SPI belt puts my cell at the small of my back, it never budges, the belt doesn’t dig in, and it’s awesome.

4) Check a bag, if you know the race is well-organized or if it’s a long race that is more than a half-mile from your house. You will want, in your bag, sweats, some extra money and an ID, your cell if you didn’t run with it, and post-race shoes. Check your own bag, so your running mate doesn’t get your stuff and then you can’t find them at your meeting place.

5) Take one of those silly aluminum blankets, load up on post race food, and go camp out at your meeting point. If you wait more than 20 minutes and don’t see the person you are meeting, look for them for 10 minutes, then return to the meeting point. If there are other people there, ask one of them if you can use their phone to call the person you are meeting. Runners are friendly people and almost all of them will have been where you are.

6) Take your keys, or hide them at your house. For the race last fall, we had several people coming back to the house, so hid one key outside under a doormat and the second inside key in the foyer under several doormats. If you are driving, make sure both of you have a key to the car so you can turn the car on and warm it up for the other person if you are meeting at the car.

7) Have emergency numbers. Fill out the emergency contact on your bib so that if something happens, you have numbers of people to call besides just your spouse, or memorize their phone numbers. If something happens to me and I can’t reach my husband, I call my sister and then my folks, all numbers I have memorized. After last fall when I couldn’t find my husband at the finish line, I realized I needed to start having other people’s numbers with me so at the very least, I could borrow a stranger’s phone and call somebody to have them call my husband and find out where he was.

That’s all my safety tips, except wear reflective clothing at night, don’t talk to strangers, and don’t taunt dogs or people you don’t know. Anyone else have any? Sarah, we’re very glad you’re safe!!!



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3 responses to “Race Safety

  1. Can I add something to your Tip #1? *Write down* the meeting point for the person meeting you; or, if your ride carries a smartphone, send them an e-mail or text message. My husband, while overall an organized person, has a habit of forgetting times and places. He thinks he remembers, but then the day of the meeting/social event arrives and he realizes that he has no idea where we’re going or when we’re supposed to be there. I’ve realized that if I want him to know what time my flight gets in or which address our friends’ engagement party is at, I can’t just tell him — he needs to be able to look it up in his Gmail account.

  2. I love the idea of keeping a $20 in your shoe between the insole and sole. I’ve never though of putting anything there, but it seems so obvious now that you mention it.

  3. Pingback: Running Gear – A few Reviews | Vado Porro – Go Further

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