Trail Etiquette Turned Deadly

Hi guys! How’s it going today? It’s supposed to be a whopping 80 degrees today here in Illinois, so I’m one happy Illinoisan. And it’s Friday to boot 😉

A couple months ago, I was on my usual long run, on my usual trail, in the zone and finishing up that last mile – as usual. I was a little early in reaching my end point, so I decided to keep going half way, turn around, and then make it to the end point to make a nice even, rounded mile (OCD much?)


As I got to my “turning point,” I abruptly stopped, turned around on the trail, and made my way back to the finish. However, with headphones in ears, donning a this-is-my-trail attitude, I nearly got clipped by a bike going who knows how fast. The cyclist was pissed at me, and he had every right to be. (I said sorry and yelled it like three more times.)




I was pretty shaken up the rest of that day, but haven’t really thought much about it since. Until today. Today I read an article about a runner who was on her typical run, probably running on her usual trail, jamming out to her tunes, who did the exact same thing I did, but had a much less fortunate outcome. The runner was hit by the cyclist and later died in the hospital from critical head injuries. The cyclist was injured as well.

So instead of a delicious dinner, or a new breakfast recipe, or kick butt strength training workout to try, I have today a PSA for runners or – or anyone who uses the trail, really:

Watch out for others when you’re on the trail or exercising outdoors. Turn down the volume to your iPod so you can hear cyclists verbal warnings and other passersby.

I know I’ll always look and make sure no one is behind me before I turn around on the trail now (probably to the point of being paranoid, now!) Scary stuff, man.


Hope you all enjoy your Friday! I have a busy one filled with errands, but then tonight I’m going to a local winery! It should be a good time. But I have to bake something to bring, and I’m not sure what. Maybe a pumpkin dessert?


Have you ever had any close calls involving collisions – either with cyclists, other runners, cars, etc – while exercising?

And this one’s a little more light-hearted:

There have been TONS of pumpkin desserts floating around the blogland as of late. What was the most memorable one of the week that you saw?


14 Responses

  1. That is sad and scary! I am always paranoid of bikers/cars since I’m usually running outside in the busy city of Philly. I JUST missed getting hit by a car a couple months ago – but I used my arm to brace myself and hurdle over the side of the car. I flipped him off because he completely blew a stop sign. I was definitely shaken up so I know the feeling!

  2. It’s scary to think about that happening!

    One thing I normally do when I run with music is I only put in ONE headphone/ear bud and tuck the other one into my shirt. I can hear So much more around me but still be able to enjoy my music.

  3. Pumpkin desserts? I made Mama Pea’s pumpkin cinnamon rolls (more breakfast than dessert) but they’re awesome with dried cranberries in them.

    Also, I haven’t made it YET, but there’s an awesome looking pumpkin cheesecake with a brownie crust on Food & Wine’s website.

  4. Paige, your experience today sounds frightening. I am glad that you took the time to share it with us and remind of the important lesson learned.
    It can be important to keep the headphones on low volume or even leave them at home for other safety reasons as well. Once, while on a run I got a creepy sensation and turned down my iPod for a moment, ad heard a weird screeching noise. I looked behind me and a SCARY old dude on a super old bike was riding behind me, clearly following me (just about 10-feet behind). Thankfully I was on the sidewalk of a major street, but I still ge upset thinking about what might have happened had I not noticed him until later in my run, in a more desolate area obstructed from the view from the street. ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings and if you feel weird, change course to stay on a busy street or where other people would be able to immediately help you. That day, I stopped as soon as possible and ran toward a store (aka where there were people walking around).
    Changing the topic – you gotta make Angela’s (Oh She Glows) pumpkin pie brownie cupcakes. It’s a vegan recipe and totally delish. Since I made them Monday, I’ve been eating them for breakfast 🙂

  5. Paige, thank you for highlighting this issue! As a regular trail runner AND cyclist I’ve had close calls on both sides. I know bicyclists get a lot of heat (especially around DC), but I think it is usually runners who are zoned out or listening to music and don’t notice bicyclists approaching. I always yell out “passing” or “on your left” as I approach someone, but I’d say 20% of the time the person doesn’t respond at all because they are wearing an iPod and can’t hear me. Its scary for me to pass them, because you never know if they might jump into your path. And I’m sure its startling for them for me to rush past not having heard my warning. Runners, BE CAREFUL! And bicyclists, signal when you are approaching! Tragedies like these are 100% avoidable!
    Thanks, Beth

  6. That’s scary that such accidents can happen. And so easily too when basic precautions aren’t taken. Although I know I likely wouldn’t have thought about that as well.

  7. On the trail I use, I get a little nervous around the sharper corners. Because yeah… those cyclists FLY around them. Never had any super close calls yet, but hopefully I’ll always remember to check myself before I wreck myself! 🙂

  8. That story is very sad, I heard about it last week.

    I frequent the awesome trail system we have in Minneapolis that is only a few blocks from my house probably 3x a week. I haven’t had any dangerous encounters, but have had some rude bikers yell at me for no reason. I would admit if I was in the wrong. The trail is for everyone and we all need to be courteous and cautious!

  9. Oh my gosh, how tragic! And how fortunate that nothing happened to you on your run. Thanks for the safe reminder. Have a good weekend! xo

  10. This exact same thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago…I was doing the same OCD thing as you almost. I turned around to cross into the trial “lane” going the opposite direction, didn’t see a cyclist flying over the bridge and we almost collided. I yelled sorry about 5x as she kept going past me…she wasn’t as nice about it…but it could’ve been so much worse. I’m super paranoid now, I know where cyclists are at all time in relation to me, but I’d rather be paranoid than hurt.
    I’m glad yours was just a scare like mine.

  11. Yikes- that’s terrible. There is always an article in the paper or something on the news about cyclists being hit by cars around here (not runners, so much). I usually have my music turned way down for just that reason. My boyfriend is a cyclist and he has almost been hit by a car a couple of times. Actually, he says that drivers are getting to harsh with accepting cyclists, so he’s going to take a break. Hope you have fun at your wine-tasting!

  12. Oh gosh! I heard about the runner who was killed but forgot about your collision. How spooky! Luckily, I have not been in a situation like that. Well, when I was walking on campus in college a biker ran in to me, but because they weren’t paying attention!

    It was such a gorgeous day today!

  13. I know most many runners like to listen to music while running, but it is dangerous!! Even without any music, I once had to pull my fellow runner from a car’s path one morning at a stop sign that a driver chose to ignore. The next morning he stopped to apologize saying he didn’t see us, but most drivers act as if runners should be on treadmills only. I was once hit in the arm by a beer can from two punks in a car who probably never run anywhere unless the cops are chasing them.
    Cyclists on anything but bike paths are also at major risks, but they really scare me when I am driving a car. However, they should definitely announce their arrival when approaching a runner.

    Please be careful. Unfortunately, rude people are everywhere, running, in cars and on bikes.

  14. Yipes! Good PSA – – I’ve been very close to disaster a few times and now, unless I’m inside my own house on my own treadmill, I ALWAYS run with only one earbud and with moderate volume. I love my tunes but I’m more fond of breathing 🙂

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