This week I have spent some time organizing recon and training runs for a group of runners who are are going to run the 6 Inch Trail Marathon with me the week before Christmas.
While I was planning the first of these runs, a 28km trail run this coming Sunday, I started to think about the safety implications of a largish group of 30 or so runners going out into the Australian bush, with many of those runners not having run a lot of trails before, and certainly not having being exposed to the course we are running.
I remembered a call I received about this time of the year two years ago when I was attending a conference on the other side of the country in Melbourne from my mate Coops, who asked me for the contact details of another runner who was at that moment lost in the very same area my group will be running on Sunday. Luckily I had the runner’s number, and was able to give it to Coops to try and call the lost one. It was just pure luck Coops called me while I was on a break at the conference…I could have not received that call for many hours later, and that lost runner would potentially have been lost for many more hours as a result.
About the same time, another friend also went off track during a 6 Inch recon run, and spent five hours in 100 degree heat before finally his running buddies finding him. He was dehydrated, and starting to worry about his well being.
As a result of these and other near misses, I decided to start an online database for the coming runs, where our runners can enter their contact details, so they can be accessed by any other runner in the group if needed. I launched it yesterday, and the others in the group seem to have embraced it, with many already registering their contact details and emergency information.
This access to information about your fellow runners isn’t just appropriate for trail runs though, it can be equally as important for road runs. About six months ago I was on one of our weekly group runs on a Wednesday night when a group member collapsed and became unconscious. We called an ambulance, but it was only when the ambulance service asked for the runner’s name that we realised all we knew about this fellow who had been part of the group for some time was his first name. We didn’t know his last name, nor where he lived. Not really good enough.
So my strong recommendation is to keep a record of your fellow runners’ contact details and information relating to medical conditions etc where you can access it easily at any time while you are running with them. You never know when you will need it.
And if you are going out running alone, let someone know where you are going, and when you expect to be back.
Safety is a big topic, so will cover some more thoughts on this in coming weeks. I remember reading in one running forum a discussion taking place on the merits of carrying a hand gun during your runs. Luckily that’s something we don’t need to worry about in Australia.