Joggers vs walkers: ‘As a runner I’m aware of everything around me. Why aren’t walkers?’

Gone is the motorists v cyclists debate. War has broken out on the pavement

Runners are used to reading a race, looking out for those about to drop the pace or cut them up– walkers should perhaps treat the busier footpaths similarly

Runners are used to reading a race, looking out for those about to drop the pace or cut them up– walkers should perhaps treat the busier footpaths similarly

 

There is a war brewing on the streets of Ireland. Gone is the motorists v cyclists debate. We’ve got some new kids in town – those who walk (or at least do now) are not happy with those who don’t.

My local open forum was lit up lately with a lengthy discussion between walkers and runners on the correct etiquette for an interaction on the footpath in the new world.

Walkers seemed to think that runners shouldn’t really be there at all, puffing away and taking out walkers like bowling pins.

Runners suggested the walkers should pay a bit more attention to their surroundings.

I didn’t get involved (actually I did, I mentioned a time during an interview where a guy sprayed his words and spat on my lip and I had to hang it down like I was having a stroke so it wouldn’t go in my mouth, not entirely relevant but equally as distressing as being sweated on by a runner), but I have to say as a runner myself (anyone moving faster than a walker is a runner in this feature) I quite agree, walkers need to back it up a little and take a bit of responsibility out on the busy streets.

Why should we have to look out for you while you’re wandering along in your own little world, reading your phone, listening to a podcast or Instagraming your every move?

As I’m running I’m as fully aware of everything going on around me as I can be because I see it as my personal responsibility to look after myself. Why can’t walkers do the same?

Don’t for one second blame me because you didn’t see me coming – that’s as insulting as a motorist saying they didn’t see the cyclist. We don't spend our lives sneaking up on people or trying to startle and annoy them – you weren’t looking for us.

If you’re driving along the road and you need to take a call or reach for something in your car you don’t just slam on the brakes and stop suddenly without checking the traffic around you (if you do I’d imagine you’re the same people that start the tailbacks on the N11 every morning by breaking at the sight of a car merging into the traffic from the left!) so why would you do it out on the footpath?

You are just inviting an accident. Look around, be aware of your surroundings, we are not out running to bump into you, so please do your level best to make sure you are not in the situation that this can happen. The last thing a jogger wants to do is bump off anything along their (probably timed) route.

Good dynamic

Before I’m burned at the stake (maybe they would use walking sticks?) can I just say that in the days before the coronavirus-walking v jogging keyboard warriors, we had a good dynamic between our pavement soldiers – at least in the particular area I live.

My morning potter along the seafront consisted mainly of sleepy smiles and the odd “morning” from those fully awake. This is how it should be. Also, there are exceptions to the rule – we should all look after our elderly and I also look out for nervous dogs. There are lots of kind people in our area that have rescue dogs, and it can take them a little while to settle into life in open spaces.

The local open forum doesn’t quite mean this is a widespread issue – believe me, you should see the cut of some of the complaints on that thing (there’s a thread about motorists killing squirrels). But when something makes it to the Letters to Editor page of The Irish Times now you know heckles are well and truly raised.

“Runners are different – they assume absolute right of way. Running on grass, they cannot be heard. Approaching from behind, they cannot be seen. Over the past four days I have been brushed, bumped and almost knocked over by three of these supreme beings. Even if they are too perfect to pass on the virus, hospitals don’t need the extra workload of avoidable injuries. Runners consider themselves sportsmen and sportswomen. They need to learn some fair play.”

Even though my superpowers detect some sarcasm is at play here I am absolutely taking on board all of those compliments.

As for avoiding unnecessary injuries, I rather think, with my supreme knowledge of such situations, that it does take two to tango, and, also having been privy to a tango situation or two, the way to avoid such a dalliance is, of course, to avoid each other.

Both parties must adhere to this. Runners are used to reading a race, looking out for those about to drop the pace or cut them up– walkers should perhaps treat the busier footpaths similarly.

A tweet the other day said “absolutely no consideration given by runners, passing at close quarters, puffing panting and hacking while dripping sweat”.

I must admit I’ve been quite spoilt during this whole period so far. I own a horse and am responsible for the wellbeing of others, so, as it is largely frowned upon to starve them during this pandemic, I am still able to go to the yard to feed them twice a day.

I tend to do my exercise there running up and down this steep hill while they are munching away at their dinner. I’m fairly sure the neighbour thinks I’m as mad as the woman trying to save the grey squirrels from motorists.

Pavement

I thought, in the interest of all this giving out about runners, I would instead go to my usual running spot in town (where I live) to see if things really had changed.

Most people were lovely, the usual smiles. I had to take to the road to avoid those who insist on taking up the pavement (and double cycle lanes) by walking two and three abreast, and had to accelerate (as best I could, honestly my running is gross right now) as it looked like there was going to be a close contact from walkers – they clearly expected me to be the only responsible responsive one in the situation.

I did nearly take the hip off myself on a railing trying to avoid getting tangled up in one of those long retractable dog leads. I was trying to pass a man, his son and their wandering dog at an acceptable distance but instead of the man tightening his group he let it play out and I was the one caught preforming an Irish jig against the railing to avoid a calamity.

So to all those walkers out there who are taking to cyber space to give out to us for doing what we have always done, maybe learn to read the race, come up to our level – we are supreme beings after all.

Also...please mind the squirrels.

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