UK Athletics updates safety advice for runners - Women's Running

UK Athletics updates safety advice for runners

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  April 13, 2021

UKA, in cooperation with the Home Country Athletics Federations, have published updated safety advice for runners as well as information on how to be an ally to runners

UK Athletics and the Home Country Athletics Federations have published new safety advice for runners, as well as information for non-runners on how to create a safer environment.

This year has seen a number of attacks on well-known athletes, with many runners concerned that lockdown regulations such as gym closures have led to a rise in harassment and assault as more people have been exercising outdoors in public spaces.

UKA and HCAFS newly publicised safety advice comes at a time where women’s safety is at the forefront of our consciousness, following the tragic deaths of Sarah Everard, Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman and Blessing Olusegun, the outpouring of stories from our fellow women who have experienced harassment or assault and the rise of the #WEWILL campaign.

The safety guidelines are no gender-specific, and encourage runners to consider their personal safety by making small changes such as running with bone-conducting headphones or downloading the What3Words app, which can be used as location device for emergency services. But the advice also includes information on how to report crime, as well as how to be an ally to runners by showing respect and maintaining distance.

UKA’s Development Director Mark Munro said: “Much has been discussed over the last few weeks relating to harassment of runners, particularly female runners, and more recent events have sadly put a spotlight on the issues of safety in public. We must stand together and ensure zero tolerance towards any such behaviour and make sure that everyone should feel comfortable and has the right to be safe exercising in public. Whilst we actively request that our respective government sections and national organisations ensure there is zero tolerance towards any type of harassment in this space, it is also important that we should all prepare and better understand what else can be done to support this objective.

“The updated guidance is a way of highlighting some behaviours runners most commonly encounter whilst out running. It also helps runners ensure they are fully prepared for their exercise and have thought through all safety considerations.

“We would also like to thank our Home Country colleagues and their respective running organisations for support in drawing this advice together as well as West Midlands Police for their valued input.”

Middle distance runner Sarah McDonald, who was assaulted whilst out on a training run in February and shared her terrible experience through social media, has supported the launch of the new guidelines:

“I’m pleased UK Athletics have updated and reissued this information for runners. There is a bigger conversation right now about safety and this advice is a sensible checklist for anyone who exercises outdoors, not just women.

“Whilst it is unacceptable any runner should face physical or verbal assault or be endangered whilst simply exercising, we can do a few things to make us feel a little safer.

“But it’s not just about the runner, so I’m really pleased that there is also guidance for non-runners. People should take responsibility for their behaviour and that starts with having an awareness of how their actions can impact others.”

Find out how you can pledge to make running safer for women, as well as men, here.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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