Mar 18, 2023
Women’s safety and running - A Running Tales special with Dr Ashley Morgan, Angie Skinner and Michele Heller
Every day, in every part of the world, women are being harassed and abused by men while out running.
A recent survey commissioned by Adidas and taking in 9,000 people from the US, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, China, Japan and South Korea, found nine in 10 women are concerned about their safety while running.
The list of issues women can face ranges from cat calling, body shaming, wolf whistles, verbal abuse and heckling to indecent exposure, sexual attention and physical contact.
Worse, women all to often face the daunting prospect of being approached or followed by potential predators, or of being attacked while out running.
In the very worst cases, women have been raped or killed for committing the 'crime' of exercising near a man.
High profile cases such as those of Ashling Murphy in Ireland and Eliza Fletcher in America, both tragically murdered while out running, have garnered media attention - but is the world any closer to solving the issue, and who's job is that anyway?
This roundtable discussion features three women runners who have all experienced abuse and harassment while out running:
Michele Heller: From Illinois in the US, Michele is a keen runner who has completed marathons included Boston, Chicago, New York and London. As a mother with a young child, Michele often runs very early in the morning, when it is dark, in order to be ready for the day when the rest of her family wake up.
Dr Ashley Morgan: From Cardiff in Wales and AKA The Doc from The Running Punks, Dr Ashley Morgan has been running for 35 years - and has experienced male harassment throughout that time. The Doc is a regular commentator on women's safety and the patriarchy, and one of those behind the Twitter hashtag #changethediscourse, which attempts to get people to think and talk about the issue differently.
Angie Skinner: From Chattanooga in Tennessee, America, Angie started running in 2014 for mental health benefits. She is originally from Memphis, close to where Eliza Fletcher was killed, and regularly receives harassment while out running - to the point where she will arm herself with pepper spray and a go guarded ring (a plastic serrated-edge self-defence weapon) for her own safety.
In this wide-ranging discussion, we spoke about everything from their own experiences of harassment and abuse, victim blaming, the potential for women runners to arm themselves for protection, whether it is safe to run in the dark, how men should behave towards female runners and what men can do to be an ally.
This podcast is aimed at provoking discussion, so we would love to hear your experiences and comments.
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Our usual Running Tales podcast episodes, featuring the stories of every day runners who have achieved extraordinary things, come out at 5.30am UK time on Tuesdays.
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