Run Safe in Honor of Chelsea

13 May

As some of you may know, we (Tough Chik) has a cute tee with the saying “Run Like You Are Being Chased”. It was one of the initial designs when we launched the site in September 2009. It was an orange shirt with blue writing, some women loved the color, others hated it. I learned early on, that you can’t please everyone and to trust my gut. Unfortunately / fortunately (depending on what side of the fence you were on) the t-shirt manufacturer discontinued the color. I currently re-released the shirt in a new color, Turquoise.

When I promoted the new shirt on facebook, I received a sobering message from a loyal and dear Tough Chik. Here is her response:

“For some reason the logo doesn’t resonate great still — at least I wouldn’t think many would want to buy it out of San Diego where we had a young girl runner killed in the trails by a sexual predator (see Chelsea’s Run a very famous story …now commemorated by a yearly run (to finish what she started) in South California). Just my thoughts anyhow, makes me a bit uncomfortable as a message… — even though I am a big fan of Tough Chik.”

Some of you may not be aware of the incident referenced above and I briefly explain this tragedy. Chelsea was an avid runner and lost her life in a horrific crime during a run in San Diego. She was only 17 years old. In March there is a run in honor of Chelsea, please go to www.inmotionevents.com/events/Finish_Chelsea_s_Run_5K_Run_Walk.htm, to learn more about the run. I was house sitting in San Diego when Chelsea disappeared and watched the tragedy unravel on the news. It was big news in Southern California and set a lot of runners on high alert, rightfully so. Never once did I associate my shirt with something so terrible. Those of you who know me, know that I am sarcastic and pride myself on a great sense of humor (even if I am the only one who thinks I’m funny). I was shaken when I read the above response and MORTIFIED that my t-shirt was associated with such a terrible, awful event. The shirt was meant to refer to competition and chasing a leader or that chik (or dude) just down the road that you are wanting to pass. It also reminded me of a Friends episode where Phoebe was running like a kid, her arms flailing. Rachael was embarrassed to run with her, but that was the way Phoebe made running fun. Anyone remember that episode?

I wanted to take this opportunity/forum to discuss how we need to be safe out there and to recognize Chelsea.

Here are some tips I found on RRCA website. We could all use a little refresher course on running safety.

• Don’t wear headphones. Use your ears to be aware of your surroundings. Your ears may help you avoid dangers your eyes may miss during evening or early morning runs.
• Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles. By facing on-coming traffic, you may be able to react quicker than if it is behind you.
• Look both ways before crossing. Be sure the driver of a car acknowledges your right-of-way before crossing in front of a vehicle. Obey traffic signals.
• Carry identification or write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe. Include any medical information.
• Always stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
• Carry a cell phone or change for a phone call. Know the locations of public phones along your regular route.
• Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React on your intuition and avoid a person or situation if you’re unsure. If something tells you a situation is not “right”, it isn’t.
• Alter or vary your running route pattern; run in familiar areas if possible. In unfamiliar areas, such as while traveling, contact a local RRCA club or running store. Know where open businesses or stores are located in case of emergency.
• Run with a partner. Run with a dog.
• Write down or leave word of the direction of your run. Tell friends and family of your favorite running routes.
• Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Avoid unlit areas, especially at night. Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
• Ignore verbal harassment and do not verbally harass others. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
• Wear reflective material if you must run before dawn or after dark. Avoid running on the street when it is dark.
• Practice memorizing license tags or identifying characteristics of strangers.
• Carry a noisemaker. Get training in self-defense.
• When using multi-use trails, follow the rules of the road. If you alter your direction, look over your should before crossing the trail to avoid a potential collision with an oncoming cyclist or passing runner.
• Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is important to report incidents immediately

I want to conclude by apologizing to any one who felt uncomfortable by the shirt and please know that was not in the spirit in which the shirt was designed. I am sad and sorry that we live in world where tragedies like this happen and that something as innocent as running in a park can end so horribly wrong. Please be safe out there.

Much love,
Shannon (Tough Chik)

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