One year ago teacher Sherry Arnold went for a run in Sydney and never returned home. Her remains were found two months later. Michael Keith Spell and Lester Van Waters are on trial for the alleged kidnapping and killing of Arnold.
Arnold’s death shocked and saddened the running community. But runners aren’t going to stop what we love doing most because of Arnold’s death– and it’s likely that Arnold wouldn’t want us to.
Even so, it’s good to keep in mind the following running safety tips. They were published in Running Wild last spring. We’re republishing them because the dialogue about safety should never stop.
. Carry your cell phone. If something happens to you and you have cell phone service, it’s the easiest way to call for help. If it’s an emergency situation, call 9-1-1. If you can only give them one piece of information, give them your location.
. Before you leave for a run, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
. If you must listen to music, listen at a low volume and use ear buds that will allow you to hear cars, conversations, or footsteps in addition to your music.
. Do you carry a water bottle while you run? Use it as a weapon if needed. Throw it at your attacker or squirt water at your attacker. Anything you can do to surprise the offender will give you time to get away.
. Carry a whistle in case of an emergency or sing loudly while running if you want to draw attention to yourself. This will scare away animals or a potential offender as it makes you seem confident.
. Run with others or your pets. Run Wild Missoula offers group runs and training classes, so there’s always someone to run with (although we don’t allow pets).
. Consider carrying pepper spray. If you do, make sure it’s easily accessible and that you’ve taken the safety cap off. Pepper spray will deter animals or offenders but won’t cause permanent damage. Using pepper spray is legally the same as pushing or hitting someone in self-defense, and self-defense laws in Montana will cover the use of pepper spray.
. If you are attacked, use your knees and legs as force and try to get away. Aim for sensitive areas such as the face, neck, and groin and let your adrenaline kick in. When you get away, find people immediately and call 9-1-1.
. Avoid running alone at night or in places where there are few people.
. Look confident while you run. Look up, hold your shoulders high, and make eye contact with people as you pass them so they know you’ve seen them and can describe them. Most of all, trust your instincts. If you see someone who seems creepy cross the street or make efforts to get away from him or her.
The chances of an incident occurring are slim, but it’s important to keep talking about how runners can stay safe. Do you have an important safety tip that you’d like to share? Please comment below to share your ideas.