The Danger to Runners From Drunk or Distracted Drivers


A few years ago I gave up running and became obsessed with the Insanity workout program. As a 51-year-old mother of four, Insanity kept me in shape without taking a toll on my body. I vowed to never run again.

I should know better than to never say never.

Like the rest of the world, when the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings happened, I was left speechless. While it shook our city to its core, Bostonians are not ones to wallow in the emotions of "Why us?" Bostonians will stand up and go toe-to-toe with whoever threatens something we hold near and dear to our hearts, and the Boston Marathon is one of our most iconic treasures. There was no freakin' way we were going to let anyone overshadow that event. Driven by that spirit and a sense of uprising, shortly after the bombings I decided to run the 2014 Boston Marathon.

When I began training again though, something was different. It seemed like with every training run I did, a car would come directly at me and then at the last minute jerk away. In some cases the driver never even saw me as I jumped off the road to avoid being hit. I still don't know if these drivers were drunk or distracted. When I ran years ago people certainly drank and drove, but people were not driving while texting, checking Facebook, reading emails, tweeting and doing dozens of other things smart phones allow you to do. Running has become a completely different sport now that there are more distracted drivers on the road. It's like you are a character in The Hunger Games being hunted by someone looking to kill you with their vehicle.

Here's the deal: If a driver hits a runner, they will die. No matter how fit we are, we are no match for a 3,000+ pound object hitting us at any speed.

The truth is that we are not just runners. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, sons, brothers, loved ones and friends. When you plow us down because you are drunk or distracted while driving, you not only take our lives, you shatter the lives of those who love us. On Jan 13 of this year, a Virginia mother of three young children, Meg Menzies, was hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver while out on her Boston Marathon morning training run. Ironically and tragically, Meg was running with her husband, a police sergeant dedicated to curbing drunk and distracted driving. That driver didn't just take Meg's life, he took a piece of the hearts of her children, husband, parents, loved ones and friends. And no matter how much time passes, that hole in their hearts will always be there.

So drivers, don't drink and drive and put your f*cking cell phones down. When you kill a runner, you are just as guilty and vile as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Choosing to drink and drive or to be engaged with your phone while driving is a deliberate act that could result in murder. Rather than carrying bombs in your backpack, you are wielding a 3,000+ pound weapon that is sure to kill its target. I totally understand that the Boston Marathon bombings were incredibly damaging with a ripple effect that forever changed many lives. However, when I look at the innocent lives being taken by drunk or distracted drivers, it has the same gravitas. I would imagine the pain Meg Menzie's family feels is no less than the pain the family of a Boston Marathon victim feels.

Your drink, text, email, post, comment, and tweet is meaningless compared to the life of a runner you are at risk of killing. And if that doesn't rattle you enough to change your behavior, imagine spending years in jail without being able to consume alcohol, text, email, post, comment, or tweet. Imagine being locked up in a 6'x8' jail cell with nothing to distract you. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year. And as you sit, imagine being haunted by the sound of hitting that runner and the endless cries of their loved ones. And if previously you were referred to as a mother, daughter, sister, father, son, brother, loved one and/or friend, you know what you will now be referred as? Before anything else, you will now be referred to as a murderer.

Is a text or drink really worth it?