SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 1, 2013

On the Run: Are runners a menace to society?

On The Run
Jay Kumar

---- — Of course runners aren’t a menace to society, but sometimes it can sure seem that way, especially when it comes to attitudes toward runners on the road. Which is why it’s a great thing indeed when cooler heads prevail.

A few weeks ago, running was on the agenda at a meeting of the Danvers Board of Selectmen. Specifically, the selectmen discussed complaints they said they had received about the Danvers 5K Fun Run (D5K). The D5K isn’t a race but rather an informal group of about 40 runners that heads out every Wednesday evening for a 3.1-mile run.

Now in its fifth year, the D5K has been happily congregating under the radar to run in the sun, rain or snow on the same route through Danvers. But town selectmen called D5K organizer Adam Prentiss in to raise safety concerns about the D5K runners, who they say sometimes run two or three abreast through already crowded streets and busy intersections. In addition, the board asked the runners to wear more reflective gear so drivers could better see them on the road.

As a result, Prentiss posted on the D5K website (www.danvers5k.com) that the group would institute some immediate changes designed to address the concerns raised by the town. The start of the run on Pine Street near McKinnon’s involves runners going through the busy intersection of Pine and Holten, so D5K runners are asked to exercise caution and cross the street in the least disruptive way possible. All runners must wear reflective gear that drivers can see from the front and back. And runners should use common sense when running on crowded streets and not run two abreast so as not to hold up traffic; when on wider, less crowded roads, running side by side is acceptable.

And due to a complaint about one runner training by pulling a tire behind him, Prentiss wrote that tires will no longer be allowed to be used as part of the D5K run.

It’s nice to see that both sides were able to reasonably address the concerns raised with a minimal amount of drama and hyperbole. This isn’t always the case, especially when disputes occur between motorists and runners in the heat of the moment.

Things can especially get difficult this time of year, when road conditions and visibility can be less than optimal. Blame can certainly be doled out to either side, whether it’s a driver going too fast around a blind corner or a runner distracted by the music on his or her iPod who crosses a street without looking and forces a driver to slam on the brakes.

Still, as runners and town officials in Danvers have shown us, a little reasonableness goes a long way.

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This Sunday, there’s a little less anticipation for the Super Bowl since the New England Patriots bowed out in the AFC Championship. But local runners can still make the most of the day in the 39th annual Great Stew Chase 15K (9.3 miles) at 10 a.m. in Lynn. The race starts at the Briarcliff Lodge on Lynnfield Street and heads into Centennial Park in Peabody before turning around and finishing at the Knights of Columbus parking lot in Lynn. The post-race gathering features plenty of hot stew for runners. Visit www.stewchase.com/stewchaseroadrace/ for more information.

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On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to jay.kumar@gmail.com.

Upcoming Races

Sunday, Feb. 3: The 20th Annual Newburyport Rotary Frigid Fiver, Michael’s Harborside, One Tournament Wharf, Newburyport, 11:45 a.m. Five-mile road race and walk. Contact: John Leary (Joppa Flats Running Club) at 1-978-490-0560 or email joppaflatsrunningclub@gmail.com.

Wednesday, Feb. 6: Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William’s Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

Thursday, Feb. 7: No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact info@wickedrunningclub.com.

Sunday, Feb. 10: Danvers 10K, 115 Forest St., Danvers, 1 p.m. Hilly and challenging 10K. Contact: Rene Lavoie (North Medford Club) at 1-508-380-6268 or email rainman52@verizon.net; Snowshoe Classic at Brooksby Farm, 54 Felton St., Peabody, 10 a.m. 5K trail or snowshoe run with prizes. Contact: Randy Weld (Peabody Recreation Department) at 1-978-536-7132 or email randy.weld@peabody-ma.gov.