iRunFar’s Trail Running And Safety Survey

[Editor’s Note, Wednesday December 13: The survey is now closed. Thank you to those of you who took it.]

Welcome to iRunFar’s Trail Running and Safety Survey, created by the Trail Sisters.

Please take approximately three minutes to answer these questions. We’d like responses from as many women and men as possible, so be sure to share this survey with your trail running friends. We’ll be sharing the anonymous data we collect in future articles.

The survey is open until 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Mountain Time) on Tuesday, December 12.

Thank you to Runner’s World for allowing iRunFar to adapt for trail runners the survey that appeared in their “Running While Female” article.

Respond and Win (and a Note on Privacy)

While we hope you’d take the survey anyway, we’ve pulled together a bunch of prizes from great partners. At the end of the survey period, we’ll randomly choose the winners of the 20 prizes noted below from those who respond fully.

Please note that this is an anonymous survey. In order to enter into the gear giveaway, however, you’ll need to enter an email address in the survey’s last question, so that we may contact giveaway winners. Your privacy is paramount and we will not use the email address for any other purpose.

iRunFar’s Trail Running and Safety Survey


[Editor’s Note, Wednesday December 13: The survey is now closed and removed from this space. Thank you to those of you who took it.]

Trail Sisters

is a group of three women, each with unique opinions, ideas, and attitudes toward all things trail and ultrarunning. Pam Smith is a mom, physician, and lover of running who lives in Oregon. Liza Howard is a mom and 100-mile specialist from Texas. Gina Lucrezi is a Colorado-based short-distance speedster exploring the realms of ultrarunning.

There are 96 comments

  1. Julie

    When I completed the survey, I said that I had not felt threatened by a human while out trail running. But yesterday, while on a nice trail run with one of my adult sons, memories of times when I HAD felt threatened came to my mind…lots of them. Things like a guy on a motorcycle coming across me on a singletrack quite a few miles from the nearest paved road. He crept along with me for a while, acting both amused and nasty before he got bored or something and took off again. I ran another fifteen miles or so to get to my car, feeling shaky the whole way. That guy was the primary reason why for many years I carried a loaded revolver with me on back country runs. I told people it was for bears and mountain lions, but at its heart it wasn’t really for the critters. There were other, similar experiences. No need to elaborate, but it’s constantly in the back of my mind.

    Running with my son yesterday, a couple of semi-sketchy-looking guys, out for a hike, passed us from the other direction. I was comfortable with saying hello and complimented their dogs as they went by. After we had passed them, I told my son how nice it was to be running with someone who looks like he could own anyone who thought about messing with me. A past boyfriend once asked me if I wished I were male so that I could go into the backcountry without being afraid. I told him that I was happy with being female but wished that I could make myself invisible at times. I still feel the same way more than 30 years later.

  2. Nora

    Just completed the survey.
    Actually, I feel much safer trailrunning in the forest than on the streets in the city. Out in the dark in the rural area where I live, you can run for hours without actually meeting anybody. I have convinced myself that predators prefer spots with more potential victims around. I´d always choose a rural trail over a citypark run when it comes to fear of predators.

    1. Liza

      I have also often thought the same thing in on trails in Texas in the summertime. “Nobody is crazy/awful enough to be out here today to bother me.”

  3. Spike

    you forgot vampires, everytime i go running around in the dark, and nowadays it does get dark early, every single noise get me thinking…Why did i leave my cross and silver bullets at home?
    Seriously though, nothing like running at night hearing some noises in the forest near you and some oinks/grunts startle you, these boars can be scary, gets the adrenaline flowing, ever since the second encounter, i have been running with a headlamp.
    On some of the questions though the answer options were not satisfying, you seem to only think about sexual comments and violent threats, but i have heard many a weirdo comments that make me thing the people uttering them are not in their best minds, not threats, but just out of place comments that make you think twice/trice about the encounter and thinking there was no threat, but keep an eye out on the person in any case
    My wife doesn’t go running trail alone.
    And of course, as mentioned in a comment before, dogs……..

  4. Dan

    As I filled out the survey it really brought home the unfortunate difference for male and female runners. I think that if my wife filled out the survey she’d answer almost everything the exact opposite of me. We have to work to make the trails safe for all of us. I hope this helps in some way.

    1. Mike H

      Exactly (and sadly), Dan. That is the crux of the original RW survey, and it will be interesting to compare these results (trails vs. roads).
      Some of the personal anecdotes are interesting, I guess, and the ‘dog issue’ (I agree) is perhaps a bigger shared sub-topic, but any degree that women or anyone else changes their route/time to run because of being harassed, or thinks about what they wear, or feels like they can’t run alone — sucks. Just think, that is piled on top of whatever shared common hazards (falling/injury, getting lost, animal encounters, etc.) we all have.

  5. Peter Hogg

    I thought the exact same thing. So I had my wife fill out the survey. To my surprise, our answers were about the same. It makes me wonder if I’m overly paranoid. I don’t really change my activities due to fear except maybe not running trails in the dark as much as I might.

  6. Sara

    I agree with what some others have said… I take a lot of precautions while on the trails, but never due to fear of humans. I am much more cautious because of wildlife, weather, and getting lost. Would love to see how results would differ if you asked about these “threats” as well.

  7. eric

    So excited to see the results – I hope folks took is serious –

    Also… I hate how NY basically means NYC… I mean… its not considered Great Lakes, but the ENTIRE northern border of the state sites on TWO of the 5…… just spitt ballin here…… Not a shot at the survey… just commenting because I had some time :)

  8. Jon

    Can’t wait to see the results on this. As someone whose passion is trail running and career is survey research, I could not be more excited!

  9. John

    Running in rural Montana as a male I feel more in danger from cars than anything else. The lack of shoulders on these roads are amazing. That being said I almost always run trails given the choice and am certainly aware of the wildlife that we have around here. But to date (knock on wood) have not had any bad experiences with them.

  10. shawn

    I don’t carry pepper spray on the trails because I’d be too tempted to use it on a mountain biker. Amazing how rude about 50% of them are here in Colorado. And just when I’m so fed up that I want to jam a stick through their wheels, I’ll meet a great pair of riders who are friendly and have great trail manners. Faith in humanity restored.

    Sorry to see so many anti-dog experiences and attitudes in the comments. I know I don’t always follow the leash rules when I’m out in Colorado open spaces, though I do when I’m on trails where I can’t see very far ahead. I realize that telling you not to be afraid of my dog would be like you telling me not to be afraid of snakes, but it is amazing how dogs react differently to people who are already afraid. The only person my dog has ever lunged towards (and he was on a leash) was a guy who I know had been nipped by other dogs; as we approached he flinched backwards and threw his hands in the air — freaked my dog out.

    For those of you who aren’t from Colorado: please note that Boulder County has many trails where properly trained and tagged dogs are allowed to be off-leash. It isn’t a perfect system, but I have had mostly positive experiences with dogs on the trails, especially compared to some other commenters.

      1. Liza

        A mean dog in my neighborhood just gave me a bunch of trouble this weekend. Will take a look at the article. Whatever it recommends is probably more useful than my glares and huffing and puffing at the owner were.

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