by Ines Madrid
Brooklyn Track Club's Leeat Shnaider got separated from her running group because of a cramp in her leg for only a moment. That’s all it took for someone to assault her. Shnaider was on a training run for her first marathon, running with her Nike Project Moonshot teammates in October 2017, on a section of the running path near Manhattan's FDR Drive, known to be heavily trafficked by runners and cyclists. It appeared to be a safe environment. But in that split second when she felt the cramp and told her pacer she would catch up, she was blindsided as to what happened next.
“I started to walk towards the meeting point where the group would be, and I noticed a guy on a bike riding in my direction,” said Shnaider, who is now training for her second New York City marathon. “As he passed me, he turned, doubled back and smacked me on my ass, and then sped off.”
Filled with anger, a sense of being violated and holding back tears, Shnaider wanted to go chase after him and hurt him. Instead, she kept walking, then running towards the group with tears in her eyes.
“What was I going to do? He was on a bike and had sped off because he knew that what he did was wrong,” she added.
As runners of all paces lace up on June 5, 2019, to celebrate Global Running Day, the discussion on runner safety is never far behind. With training season for fall marathons just around the corner, plus more people enjoying the extra hours of daylight to run, the number of women and young girls taking up the sport is expected to continue its upward trajectory.
In 1971 for the first New York City marathon that allowed female runners, five women entered the race. For the 2017 marathon, 21,277 women entered the race, according to New York Road Runners' most recent figures.
Making new runners — and especially women runners — feel safe on the run is one of the founding blocks for Mile Stylers, a Bronx, New York-based running group launched in July 2017 by Miguel Hernandez.
To combat harassment or unwanted attention from onlookers, the new runners — AKA “sexy pace runners” — have a male member stay with them from beginning to end.
“Our women runners are the most consistent members, who have bonded as a group within the group," Hernandez said. “Their presence in the streets and with us motivates people who see us, and we want to keep them safe. Plus there is always some guy saying something embarrassing to the women, so we want to make sure they feel protected.”
For runners unable to make the meeting time for their local run group, Hernandez suggests that they stay in high visibility areas, and go during daylight hours.
“And I know we all hate them, but if you must run alone, go to the gym and use a treadmill,” Hernandez said.
Additional safety tips include: running with pepper spray, running without music, avoiding isolated areas and carrying a cell phone, Metrocard and cash.
When talking to runners of Lean.Strong.Fast. about safety, coach Marlon Jude will be upfront with his members to never place running above safety, and to skip the run if they can’t be in a safe space.
“You should be able to run anytime that you want, but unfortunately that is not the case,” Jude said. “In the summer, for example, tons of people try to run early to avoid the heat, but sometimes that’s not always possible.”
LSF hosts weekly runs in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where winter runs are often in the dark due to shorter hours of daylight. In a group that has various pace levels, Jude has a built in safety net.
“We all start together, but I stay in the meeting spot at the Grand Army Plaza entrance in charge of bag check. When the first person gets back from running a loop of the park, they then become bag check as I run clockwise to check on every runner,” Jude added.
In the dynamics of a group setting, there is a larger safety net and a broader awareness of surroundings that gets passed on from runner to runner, he said. Those running alone, including men, should be on double alert as to what is going on around them.
Jude suggests that if women must run alone in the park they should: not run with music, stay in the middle of the road and run against traffic. If they are harassed, they should be loud to attract attention from others who are walking or running by.
“Another safety tip is to find someone who can run at the same time as you, and if you need to run a bit slower, that’s fine,” Jude said. “The point is to stay safe.”
Joe DiNoto of Orchard Street Runners, David Trimble of Trimble Racing and the Nike NYC team put on quite the show on Thursday night.
At 11:00 pm over 200 runners alongside spectators assembled in Gowanus, Brooklyn to launch the return of this grueling underground masterpiece of pain. With no formal route, racers were instructed to complete 8 checkpoints in sequential order, before the clocks were shut off.
BKTC was proud to have over 20 athletes representing in the field and when the dust settled, several emerging in the top 10!
BKTC Women: Leigh Anne Sharek 2nd, Sarah Fountain 4th, Andrea Burdett 5th, Lena Placzek 6th, Marta Fenollosa 8th, Nicole Quilliam 10th.
BKTC Men: Cameron Erhardt 3rd, Michael Conroy 5th.
On Saturday NYRR held the Fiesta 5k in Jersey City, NJ. In our annual demonstration of solidarity with our NJ resident members, BKTC crossed over the Hudson to take on and support this brand new NYRR race.
Besides the traffic, tunnels, bottlenecking and pothole-ridden landscape we overcame to see many achieve some fast new personal bests and walk away with a little hardware and prize money!
BKTC Women Top 5: Leigh Anne Sharek 2nd, Henna Rustami 3rd, Carly Graham 5th, Sarah Fountain 7th, Caro Hernandez 46th.
BKTC Men Top 5: Daniel Winn 1st, Paul Corcoran 8th, Dennis Serna 25th, Zac Price 39th, Andrew Leibowitz 51st.
More than 100 BKTC runners descended on 11th Street bar on Wednesday evening to celebrate a an awesome 2018.
Heres a handful of photos from the beginning of the night.
Brooklyn Track Club, Orchard Street Runners and Nike NYC hosted a very special Pre New York Marathon Shakeout run in Manhattan, on Saturday. We were joined by 700 runner who were completing 16-weeks of grueling training and treated them to an appearance by Olympic distance runner Amy Cragg, Olympic 5000 meter silver medalist Paul Chelimo, and Olympic 1500 meter gold mentalist Matt Centrowitz.