Born To Run…

July 6, 2010

Born To Run…

With the excessive humidity and heat in the recent few weeks joggers have made smart changes to their schedules. Some are running earlier in the morning or later in the early evening before dusk/dark. Every jogger has his or her favorite route like the path that winds around the park or next to the lake. Now, however female joggers who run in Canal State Park, south of Lambertville, Central New Jersey realize that it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is when it pertains to victimization. Anyone thinking that assaults do not happen in “broad daylight” needs to “wake up and smell the coffee”. Assaults CAN and DO happen at any time of the day or night. Assailants have become more bold than ever.

Around 8pm last Wednesday a 47-year-old female jogger from Lambertville was attacked on the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park “towpath”, (trail on the bank of the canal) south of Lambertville. The victim was dragged into the woods and beat. The victim suffered numerous injuries. Authorities believe that the assailant was sitting on a bench as the victim passed by. The victim was treated at a local hospital and has been released.

Chief Hurley for the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office stated, “The victim’s courageous acts in defending herself may have saved her life and stopped additional crimes from happening to her. The actual motive for this severe attack is yet to be determined.”

The assailant fled the scene on foot. Police have issued this sketch and the description of the suspect. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5’6″-5’8″, 140-160lbs., between the ages of 20-30, olive skin, brown flat-top style hair and wearing a dark polo shirt.

First and foremost, I was relieved to learn that the victim is doing as well as can be expected and that she is alive. She has a road ahead of her as she heals from her physical injuries which will fade but the emotional and mental trauma that she has begun to deal with will be with her the rest of her life. With professional assistance she will regain her emotional strength but the scars that this man has left is etched in her soul. She has demonstrated some pertinent information that all should take note of.

She knew exactly where she was, she knew her exact location. She fought back, “element of surprise”…her assailant obviously was caught off guard with her reaction because he didn’t think that she would resist and fled. You can bet that she had plenty of DNA! The vivid description that she has supplied to the authorities is unbelievable. She made a mental blueprint of him over and over in her mind – she didn’t “block out” anything. And, she remembered someone sitting on a bench where she had jogged. Read again her description. Talk about determination! She did not become frozen in fear. The warrior mentality kicked in and she knew that if anyone was going to save her that it was going to have to be her.

Female runners must know when to be extra alert and never let your defenses down. I know how pleasant it is to run along a river or around a lake but the reality is that becoming isolated is not to your advantage. For an entire run you should always stay on main streets where there are plenty of cars and pedestrians. Possible witnesses deter many attackers. Constantly scan your surroundings. Who is in front of you and to your sides? Do you hear someone close behind? AWARENESS. You must consider every face a potential threat. This doesn’t mean that your should aggressively stare-down the old woman crossing the street, but that smiling, well-dressed man could be the one to pull you off into the nearest alley. Always be prepared for the worst.

As though you don’t have enough to pay attention to already, don’t ever forget to keep track of where you are going. Keep an eye out for recognizable landmarks or duck into a bustling shop to ask for directions. Do not run yourself out of breath as you’ll want a little extra wind to pick up the pace if you suspect that you are being followed.

Personal safety for females requires a hunted vs. the hunter attitude – a constant alertness for the lion crouched in the shadows. Many females find the stress of survival anti-productive to what is supposed to be a leisurely run and, in turn, opt for the gym. But for those avid female runners who can’t possibly take the sterile treadmill, following smart safety tips will literally keep you on your toes.

Additional safety tips for runners are:
  • Use the Buddy system – pair up with a friend/family member/neighbor/another jogger.
  • Visibility – make yourself visible to automobiles and to the public any time just prior to sunset/dusk – deck yourself in phosphorescent yellow. I know…’s not the best choice of fashion but it does make you highly visible. Better yet…time yourself so that you are back at your starting point before sunset/dusk.
  • Cellphone – ALWAYS carry a cellphone with you in a holder on your hip to give yourself emergency access to help.
  • Identification – obtain “runner ID’s”, get one or be sure to put your driver’s license/identification into your pocket or sock. Do not go anywhere without your ID.
  • Communicate – tell, text or jot a note to someone close to you what route you will be taking and an approximate time that you should be expected back. Instruct those individuals to come looking for you if you do not communicate when you are expected back and to notify the authorities immediately.
  • Senses, use them – Do not take away ANY of your senses. This means to leave your earbuds and iPod at home, save it for the gym. Using earbuds is an outward expression to any assailant that you are not paying attention to your surroundings. And, the leads from your device to your ears can be used against you, they can be used to strangle you. You must use your eyes, ears, nose, hearing and your awareness/intuition so that you can remain safe and aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Intuition – trust your “gut”, if it doesn’t feel right then you intuition is speaking to you; get away from the impending danger immediately.
  • Verbalize – If you feel that someone is approaching you and your safety is at risk, be heard. Commit and with a stern voice and state, “Don’t come any closer” – you have to set your own personal boundaries and you have every right to protect that boundary. If they do not back off start to yell “Fire….Get away from me….”, make a scene and a loud one; there is no debating whatsoever. Your goal is to respond to hostile language in a way that doesn’t set you up as a victim and doesn’t reward the attacker. Learning verbal de-escalation is an invaluable tool for your toolbox.
  • FIGHT, DOING SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING! – I pray that you will never have to fight an assailant, if you do – go for the head, eyes, nose, throat, knees (groin being the last because males expect females to go there first) getting DNA with every strike, scratching (use you nails) and biting (you have teeth, use them). And yes…….take a personal safety course to learn “realistic un-armed self-defense” so that you will always be educated and know how to protect and defend yourself. IT’S YOUR RIGHT AND YOU ARE WORTH IT!
  • Police/Report – EVERY altercation or assault must be reported and you must seek proper medical attention and emotional support. Remember….IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You did not “ask” for an assault to happen.  It is imperative for the person who assaults an individual to be found and charged, if not… won’t be the last.
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