Saturday, July 04, 2009

Local runner hit during pre-dawn run

ORN:  9 miles total, with 5K time trial @ 26:06
We got the sobering news this morning of a local runner hit and left by a car.  He is still in serious condition at a local hospital, with what was reported to be a broken ankle, broken shoulder and other abrasions. 
This whole thing happened around 4:30am Friday on a well traveled road about a mile and a half from our house.  The driver hit the man, then took off and has yet to be found.  Very sobering indeed.
The situation also struck a chord with me.  Some of you may remember my long-term running goal of running at least a half-marathon on the day of my grandkids' weddings.  Well, the man who was hit was 86.  Shoot, that could be me in 31 years.
Three things struck me from this event, as I read the details, knowing the area.
First, the runner was apparently not wearing any reflective clothing.  This is a simple, defensive and necessary thing when running in the dark.  At that hour of the morning, most drivers are sleepy and NOT looking for anything on the road.  There is a lot of reflective gear out there; use it.  I'm particularly fond of a small LED blinky thing I got at a bike store years ago which I clip to the back of my waistband.  My wife read the article first this morning, showed it to me when I got in from my run and gave me a hug, saying "Thanks for always running all lit up like a Christmas tree." 
Second, it appears this man was running on the right shoulder, with the traffic, and thus got hit from behind.  We need to run on the left side of the road, facing the traffic (unless we're in England..then reverse it).  I'm a morning runner and probably once a month I take some evasive action when I see a car approaching and I'm not confident the driver sees me as well.  Running on the left adds a good 12 to 15 feet between you, the runner, and any car coming from behind.  It may have made the difference for this gentleman. 
Third, pick your path.  The traffic patterns in our small community make the road he ran on a main thoroughfare.  Even at 4:30am, if anyone is heading across town, they will use this road.  It is also a long, steep (well, steep for Indiana) hill.  Purdue and High School cross country teams use it repeatedly for hill work.  But it always bothers me to see runners on it...there is not a lot of margin for error, nor much room to jump off the road.  Finding less traveled streets or trails is worth the effort. 
Let's hope this man can recover.  And do take care out there.


Backofpack said...

Good reminders Joe. You know, I always wonder when we stopped teaching kids about walking facing traffic. Is it because we (as a nation) don't walk much anymore? I made sure my kids knew, but I've encountered kids who have never heard that rule before, and worse yet, I see kids walking with their backs to traffic all the time. I also see a lot of runners at dusk, in dark clothing with little or no reflective gear - drives me nuts!

I hope the runner is better soon. That's tough on any body, but particularly tough on an 86 year old body.

Girl on Top said...

So sad to hear!

Thanks for the reminder.

Shilingi-Moja said...

Good reminders. I'm usually well-lit: reflective vest, blue blinky light on my right wrist, white running cap with headlights. I also always run facing traffic unless I'm on a sidewalk (even then, I'm uncomfortable with my back to traffic) or for extremely short stretches while waiting for a car to pass so I can cross.

I'm also fortunate to live in a place with wide roads and very courteous drivers. There are a lot of runners and bikers here and I think drivers have learned to look out for us.

David said...

Thanks for all the good reminders Dad. Some of us still ride bikes without helmets too.

Darrell said...

Very sad news. Especially sad on the state of taking resposibility for your actions these days.

Good tips for sure. Be careful out there.

Wes said...

too many people getting hurt this weekend! Bah!! Good advice Joe! Thanks...