Apology and correction to the previous and current edition of the Runner’s Guide to Wellington

I have had several people contact me about a section of the book that provides safety advice specifically for women. I really appreciate this feedback and I have committed to make changes in any future editions.

Here are the revised safety suggestions:

Further Safety Suggestions

Unfortunately it is the reality that both male and female runners can receive unwanted attention even in Wellington. Suggestions for feeling safer include running in daylight or in well-lit areas, alternating your running routes randomly, running with company or in populated areas, letting friends or family know where you are going and when you’ll be back, dressing appropriately for your exercise and the environment you are in, using a safety app (like bSafe), and being alert to suspicious behaviour. If anyone is concerned about their safety, a course in self-defence is a great idea. 

I sincerely apologise to anyone who has taken offence to the original safety suggestion. If I could reprint all the copies of the book, I would.

In no way was my original suggestion meant to discourage women from running or to support the idea that women are somehow to blame for gratuitous attacks. Quite the opposite was my intention and I hope that those who do read the book understand that this book is meant to liberate all Wellington runners—male and female, young and old—to enjoy their stunning city, enjoy their running and stay as safe as possible while doing so.

Since writing the book I now manage my own running coaching business, called TempoFit, which has the sole purpose of providing all runners with the tools and motivation to love their running. Encouraging others to run is one of my great passions and the reason I self-published this book.

The Second Edition of the Runner’s Guide to Wellington was produced with support from the Shoe Clinic. In no way are they responsible for the content of the book and any criticism of them as a company is unwarranted and misdirected. Shoe Clinic is a great New Zealand company and has helped countless Kiwis into running. It’s fine if you no longer want my book, but please keep shopping at Shoe Clinic.

Finally, although it doesn’t justify what was written, I would like to note that the original safety suggestion was written just weeks after someone close to me was attacked at knifepoint while running. I wrote this section in consultation with her, somewhat in the heat of the moment. No one should ever go through an horrific attack like this and I hoped this book would encourage more women to feel safe while running. As you can imagine, this incident shook me, and the victim, and has since influenced where I live and where, when and how I run. My heart breaks for anyone who has gone through anything similar.

Folks, you were born to run. Take the necessary safety precautions, but, please, keep running. Our world is starved of movement and running is the single best movement I know in order to stay healthy and explore our planet. Keep moving, keep running and let’s look out for each other and together take back our streets.

By Hayden Shearman

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One response to “Apology and correction to the previous and current edition of the Runner’s Guide to Wellington

  1. Hi Hayden,

    Thanks for making these changes which remove the most problematic statements from your original text, and my heart goes out to your friend who suffered from an attack.

    One thing I did like about the original text is that it acknowledged the often gendered nature of the violence runners can face (a reality which is completely compatible with there being different motivations and situations which may place particular groups or individuals in danger).

    The sort of threats women as runners face is very well articulated in this article here: http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/08/women-runners-safety-vanessa-marcotte-karina-vetrano-alexandra-brueger.html

    The problem with the original text is not that it didn’t acknowledge all threats to safety all runners may face, but that it misdiagnosed the source of the specific gendered violence it was discussing. Choosing to make the safety tips non gender specific doesn’t bring us further in engaging with and addressing this important problem.

    If we are serious about making our streets safer, I think it is really important that we talk about the sources of threats to our safety, so that we can properly diagnose what will make us safer. In the case of gendered violence, this will involve calling out rape culture as much as it may involve taking self defense courses.

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