, Salem, MA

September 27, 2013

On The Run: Keep your head up while you're on the road

By Jay Kumar

---- — It seems like every time we turn around, there’s a new cautionary tale to tell about motorists and athletes on the road.

The latest one occurred last weekend, when two North Shore cyclists were killed in Hampton, N.H. after a motorist drifted into the opposite lane and slammed into them. Police have arrested the driver in the incident and charged her with negligent homicide and second degree assault. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming trial, the case is a horrifying reminder that the roads can be incredibly unsafe at times.

Just about every runner can relate a story about nearly getting struck by a car while out on a run. Sometimes it’s the driver’s fault; sometimes it’s the runner’s fault.

But let’s not waste time pointing fingers. Ultimately, runners owe it to themselves to take extra care on the roads. It’s not just motorists you need to watch out for; there are also plenty of cyclists out there riding at higher rates of speed than you.

The safest course of action would be to stay off the road entirely and stick to the treadmill or trails. But that’s not going to happen, nor should it. Here are a few common sense things to consider as you get your miles in on the road:

Take heed. It’s important to pay extra attention to what’s going on around you while you’re out running, because nobody else is going to do that for you. Never assume that a driver pulling off a side street or backing out of a driveway can see you and will stop for you. That could be a painful mistake on your part.

Headphones. Many runners use headphones while running, but the fact remains listening to your iPhone or iPod is a distraction. If your reaction time is a split-second slower because you’re listening to a song or podcast, that can be the difference between seeing an oncoming car and getting hit by it. I’m not advocating banning headphones, because I often listen to my iPod when I’m out for a run, but it definitely makes sense to keep the volume a little lower so you can hear a little more of the surrounding noise. Whether it’s a car horn, somebody yelling out a warning or a dog growling, you definitely want to be able to hear and react in time.

Visibility. When you’re running in the road, especially during heavy traffic, take extra care to remain visible. Try not to dart out from between parked cars or to cross a street when cars are oncoming. Remember, drivers may be as or more distracted than you are, and they’re also watching out for other cars as well as runners, cyclists, children, animals, etc. Add in nasty weather such as a torrential rainstorm or a blizzard, and the likelihood increases of a driver not seeing you. And if you’re running at night, wear reflective clothing to increase your visibility; running in dark clothes means motorists may not see you until they’re right in front of you.

Having to take a little more care when you’re out for a run may mean you can’t run as fast as you want or lose yourself in your thoughts, but exercising a little caution may just save your life one day.


Starts and stops:

If you’re training for a fall marathon and need a challenging tune-up run, try the Nahant 30K (18.6 miles) Road Race this Sunday, Sept. 29 at 8:30 a.m. (7:30 sunshine start for those planning to run an 11-minute per mile pace or slower). The race starts and finishes at Nahant Beach Reservation in Nahant, but because of construction on Nahant Road, runners must park at the main parking lot of North Shore Community College, 300 Broad St., Lynn. Visit for more information.

Another challenging upcoming event is the 10th annual Ravenswood Trail Race, a 4.1-mile race that takes place on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 9 a.m. at Ravenswood Park in Gloucester. Visit for more information and to register online.


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


Saturday, Sept. 28

7th Annual Scot Trot, Gordon College Quad, 255 Grapevine Road, Gordon College, Wenham, 9 a.m. Visit for more information on this 5K trail race. Contact: Jen Migonis (Gordon College) at 1-774-573-9310 or

Sunday, Sept. 29

Topsfield Fair 5K Scholarship Road Race, Topsfield Fairgrounds, 207 Boston St., Topsfield, 10 a.m. A road race around Topsfield benefiting the Topsfield Fairs scholarship fund. Contact: Kate O’Brien (Topsfield Fair) at 1-978-887-5000 or

Monday, Sept. 30

North Shore Road Race Guide Monthly 5K, New England Running Company, 43 Enon St., Beverly, 6:45 p.m. Free timed 5K run. Includes a raffle for local race entries and more. Contact: North Shore Road Race Guide at 1-978-423-5328 or

Wednesday, Oct. 2

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

Thursday, Oct. 3

No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact

Sunday, Oct. 6

The fourth annual Fall Frolic 5K & Fun Run, Lynch Park, 55 Ober St., Beverly, 9:30 a.m. The half-mile Kids Fun Run begins at 9 a.m. and is open to all kids grade 5 and younger. Entry fees for 5K are $20 before Sept. 22 and $25 after, and $2 for the Fun Run. The event benefits Beverly’s public elementary schools. Register online at

Rockin’ Mad 5K Challenge, Lynn Woods, Great Woods Rd., Lynn, 11 a.m. 5k trail run with 15-20 obstacles. Individual or team of four. Breakfast included.

Contact: Ashley Steeves (BNS EVENT MANAGEMENT) at 1-978-836-0271 or

St. Richard 5K Road Race, Endicott Park, Ingersoll Street, Danvers, 10:30 a.m.

Contact: Mary White (St. Richard Parish, Danvers) at 1-978-352-2510 or

Wednesday, Oct. 10

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

Thursday, Oct. 11

No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact

Visit for more race listings.