Yesterday I was talking with fellow members of the running group I belong to and no one has almost gotten into a fistfight while running as I have.
One winter day I was running down a sidewalk and a car intentionally swerved into deep slush and threw a wall of it onto me. I flipped him off, a response I’ve long ago given up. The driver pulled over and got out of his car.
As I approached, he yelled obscenities and threatened me. I ran past, ignoring him, and he swung his coat at me. The zipper hit my face and really stung. I continued on as he yelled more obscenities. He jumped into his car, intent on getting me.
Because I am not a fighter, I turned at the next intersection, picked up the pace, and cut through the yard of an unfenced house to the rear. I watched him drive past, fruitlessly searching for me.
This incident happened when I was in my late teens, an age when you’re more susceptible to aggressive behavior. However, another incident happened just a couple years ago.
It was dark, and I was running down a residential street, staying well to the right. As I approached an intersection, a car turning left cut the corner at a very high speed. I had to stop abruptly to avoid being hit. I stared, trying to let the driver know I was nearly struck by his reckless driving. He did not take it well.
He came to a stop perhaps 50 or 60 feet away, jumped out, and aggressively stepped toward me. He cussed and yelled and dared me to come take him on. I stood there for several seconds without saying a word, listening to his taunts. The obvious solution was to just turn and resume my run, which I did.
I’ve been the recipient of several other unfriendly actions. I’ve had things thrown at me a time or two that were off-target, and people have yelled at me for no apparent reason than to harass me.
The mildest and most common behavior I experience is a phrase from a well known movie. As a car passes, someone yells out, “Run, Forest, run!”