Friday, August 22, 2014

Safety Tips for Women Runners; A Guest Blog by Cynthia Menzies

Cynthia Menzies; strong, focussed, brave.


Running during the summer months often means warmer weather, more daylight and more people out and about along your running route.  Running in the summer can create the feeling of safety especially if we run when it is light out. We feel invincible and take risks like: running alone, running with earphones, running without iPhones, and running on secluded trails. We often fool ourselves into taking fewer precautions because we are already ‘on the move’ and as a result we feel invincible. We might ask “what are the chances of an assailant going after a runner, anyway”?

I can write from personal experience that the chances are very good. Last month, after an attempted sexual assault while running on a very public trail in south St. Vital, I realized that I am not invincible. I also realized that as a woman I am even more at risk.

Morning Rain

It was a Sunday morning when I decided to finally head out for a run. I had postponed my start time because it was raining lightly. As I started out on my regular run route I determined that the light rain had a bit of a chill to it. As a result, I turned back and headed home for arm warmers. Finally on my way, I noticed that the public path was a little quieter than usual. There were not as many dog walkers, runners or cyclists. As a result I felt like I had a good feel for the environment around me. I rarely run distracted with the exception of my thoughts that often bounce about in my head stimulating new ideas. Admittedly, I am a day dreamer and now realize this can put me at risk.


It was so unexpected and quick when the attempted assault happened. As I continued down the trail I noticed a man walking toward me. The man seemed to be hesitating and his gait was irregular. My inner radar was set off and inside my head I heard, “Be careful Cindy”. I debated how I was going to pass the man on the trail or even if I should.  I decided I would pass him.  I was a few running strides in front of him when he dropped his pants and exposed himself to me. I stopped running.

Not Cool

The first words that came out of my mouth were “not cool, I am calling the police”. Calling the police? I did not carry my iPhone on my run. How was I going to do this? I started to run toward a house nearby. As I did this the assailant started toward me. I rang the doorbell and no one came to the door. The assailant continued to approach me and I realized my strength would be found in my voice using simple commands. I told the assailant to “back off”. I said these two words three times. Each time my voice getting louder and stronger. On the third time, the assailant stopped coming toward me and started running away. I was lucky.

The Bigger Picture

What does this experience have to do with running? I want to share that assailants are not waiting for the night time to strike. They will surprise you in the early hours of the morning, during a midday trail run or abduct you from the streets of your own neighbourhood. Sound scary? It is. My assailant lived in my neighbourhood and was a high risk predator with a track record of sexually assaulting women. He was also living with a mental health condition and I hope to touch more on the complexity of this topic in the next issue.

Be Safe

I really want you to be safe. Below are some of the best tried and true safety tips from police officers, EMT’s and other safety experts taken from an online website called ACTIVE.

1) Do Not Run Alone
I know, it's so simple, but it works. Two people are harder to control than one, so attackers are less likely to strike and if they do, you've just doubled your chance of survival. If you don't have someone to run with, get a dog. Or borrow a dog.

2) Do Not Run With Earphones
Again, this isn't rocket science. When you have loud music blaring in your ears, you can't hear a potential attacker come up behind you and it also slows your reaction time.

3) Alter Your Route
When we run the same route, or the same two routes, day after day, it not only makes us easy targets for stalkers, we also have a tendency to zone out.

4) Run Against Traffic
It makes it harder for someone to abduct you in a vehicle if you see them coming, literally a mile away.  This also helps prevent traffic related accidents, especially if you like to run in the early morning or at dusk.

5) S-I-N-G
Anyone who saw the charming Sandra Bullock movie, "Miss Congeniality," will remember her demonstration of self-defense at the beauty pageant talent show. "Remember to sing," is her line and it stands for four vulnerable parts of a person: solar plexis, instep, nose, groin. 

If you are attacked from behind, self-defense experts tell you to elbow your attacker in the stomach, stomp on their instep, turn and shove the heel of your hand up their nose, then knee their groin. This often sounds easier than it is, so try to take a self-defense class about every five years to keep the concepts fresh and your reaction time quick (Hargrave, 2014).


I often wonder what would have happened if I ran at my scheduled time or if I hadn’t turned back to get my arm warmers. Would I have crossed paths with the assailant?
In the end I was lucky. I also helped to identify an assailant who was wanted for similar attacks on women. The police surrounded the area moments after the attempted assault occurred and it was not long before the assailant was arrested. I decided to give a statement on camera after recognizing that other victims would not come forward.


It hasn’t been easy. I have internalized a lot of the stress and trauma on a cellular level. I have been assaulted before and was unprepared at how the recent attempted assault would bring the trauma of my childhood to the surface. It was a double whammy to process. It is difficult to measure the impact of any attack and the best thing to do at the end of the day is be better prepared, talk about what happened and allow others to help you with recovery. I carry my iPhone now and wear an alarm that Victim Services provided me.

I also forgive my perpetrator.

Cynthia Menzies

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The People of Ted's Run for Literacy, Meet Aldo Furlan

Aldo Furlan, Ted's Run for Literacy Board Member (Course Chair, Volunteer Chair, Site Chair)
The People of Ted's Run for Literacy is a 'behind the scenes' look at the many individuals that make up Ted's Run for Literacy; from committee members, to runners, to volunteers, to sponsors.  Every week leading up to race day we will interview an individual whose contribution to TRL helps to define the heart and soul of this fine event. The People of TRL is the brainchild of our Social Media chair, Carly Walsh.

Aldo Furlan’s dedication to Ted’s Run for Literacy and Start2Finish is matched only by his iPod’s playlist (see how he groans below when we ask him to pick ONLY five songs) . The TRL Board is very lucky to have Aldo as a volunteer coordinator, course coordinator, and site coordinator, but also as one of the run’s greatest promoters.

Ted’s Run for Literacy - How long have you been running, and why did you start?
Adlo Furlan - I originally started my interest in running when I was 12 (1976...yikes!). I ran a fun run at school and finished 11th out of 85 so that I guess is where the "spark" began. I ran all through Jr/Sr high school and recreationally in university. I never even dreamed of running for a club at that time as I never thought I was "good enough." I started doing longer runs in the late 1980s and I never really stopped.

TRL - You've been asking by a running gel company to develop a new flavour. What is it?
AF - A favourite flavour for a gel? Maple the wings I had in St. Adolphe once..mmmm

TRL - If you only had room for five songs on your running playlist what would they be?

AF - Playlist...tough one....
“Frankenstien” by the Edgar Winter Group
“If I Should Fall From Grace with God” by the Pogues(or any other song)
“You Wreck Me” by Tom Petty(or any other song)
“The Pretender” by Foo Fighters(or any other song)
“Edicott” by Kid Creole and the Coconuts
That was a tough one. I could have put sooo much more.

TRl - Do you have a moment or an experience that stands out for you during your work with Strart2Finish?
AF - A moment that stands out for me working for Start2Finish was when one of the kids at my school mentioned that he ran all through recess to "get ready" for Running and Reading club after school. He was so dedicated to running that he wanted to put extra time to be sure he was ready for the run at the end of the year. ( He's a great kid by the way, well liked by everyone).

TRL - What does Ted's Run for Literacy mean to you?
AF - Ted's Run for Literacy means to's a really personal thing for me as I see the result of its efforts first hand. When the kids in my school, some who I have taught years before, put on their brand new shoes we provide to them through Start2Finish, it's a pretty cool thing to see. I also see it when those same kids sit down to read with me in the gym during Run and Read Club. I sum it up when I describe the race to people and tell them what it's all about. "It's a race that supports Running and Reading programs across Canada, three in Manitoba, two in Winnipeg one of which is at my school". This statement helps to engage people and draw more interest and support.

It's a good day to be alive.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The People of Ted's Run for Literacy, Meet Steve Wetton

The People of Ted's Run for Literacy is a 'behind the scenes' look at the many individuals that make up Ted's Run for Literacy; from committee members, to runners, to volunteers, to sponsors.  Every week leading up to race day we will interview an individual whose contribution to TRL helps to define the heart and soul of this fine event. The People of TRL is the brainchild of our Social Media chair, Carly Walsh.
Steve Wetton, Ted's Run for Literacy Sponsor Chair
We are very happy to have Steve Wetton as the newest member of the Ted’s Run for Literacy committee. His knowledge, and fresh perspective brings great value to the team - we just won’t let him name any of our future races (see question #4’s answer).

Ted’s Run for Literacy - How long have you been running, and why did you start?

Steve Wetton - It's hard to remember exactly when I started calling myself a runner, but
I did technically join the cross country team in Grade 12. I think it wasn't until around 2005 when I did my first half marathon that I allowed myself the title of "runner" - until then I just considered it a hobby! There's a variety of reasons I started running, but mostly just because it felt good!
Soon I found myself racking up the distances and getting such a sense of euphoria and accomplishment that I was hooked!

TRL - Did Michael Bennett chase you down during a grueling Sunday long run to convince you to join the TRL committee? (Editor’s note: he does this to most unsuspecting TRL board members).

SW - I remember it being a blustery Sunday morning with a windchill of -40°C, or something just as bad. We were out for a trial run of the Hypothermic Half route and Michael came up alongside me. Maybe he just needed to thaw his face by moving his mouth, but we ended up having a chat about TRL and how there was a space on the committee that he thought I would be interested in. Between gusts of wind across the bare Fort Whyte Alive fields, I told him that I'd love to help out. Here I am today!

TRL - Road, trail, or treadmill - where do you like to run?

SW - Depends on the weather! I can be quite content anywhere if the conditions are right, but you'll most commonly find me pounding pavement somewhere between River Heights and Roblin.

TRL - If you could create your own race what would it be (creative name required).

SW - I already have one! It involves lots of biking, running, and perhaps some
dehydrators in the final mile! For alliteration's sake, perhaps I'll rename it to.... Steve's Super Series SoirĂ©e.... Probably won't be calling it that...

TRL - What does TRL mean to you?

SW - Growing up as a child, I definitely loved to read. My parents and school strongly encouraged it, and over the years I blasted through everything I could get my hands on. I know for a fact that my education has benefited greatly from this positive reinforcement! An area where I wasn't quite as strong with was physical activity. To see a program that pushes both items in tandem is so amazing to see and a great cause to support.

It's a good day to be alive.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The People of Ted's Run for Literacy; Meet Caitlyn and Winston Yip

The People of Ted's Run for Literacy is a 'behind the scenes' look at the many individuals that make up Ted's Run for Literacy; from committee members, to runners, to volunteers, to sponsors.  Every week leading up to race day we will interview an individual whose contribution to TRL helps to define the heart and soul of this fine event. The People of TRL is the brainchild of our Social Media chair, Carly Walsh.
Caitlyn and Winston Yip entering the finisher's chute.
A family that runs together has fun together. Two members of the Yip family, Winston (dad), and Caitlyn (age 10) chat about their reasons for running, and what their running inspired TV shows would be called.

TRL thanks the Yip family for the support, and we hope to see the whole family out on the course in October.

Ted’s Run for Literacy - How long have you both been running, and why did you start?

Caitlyn Yip – I started running two or three years ago at Whyteridge School. Run Club in the mornings and then Cross Country and Track & Field. First family run we ever did was Run at the Ridge.

Winston Yip – I used to run a lot when I was younger but then stopped in my late teens and 20s. I only started running again when I turned 30. I did the MB ½ marathon for two reasons: In tribute of my dad who passed away a year earlier and for my 30 bucket list. I have ran the half marathon every year since and one full marathon for my 40 bucket list.

TRL - What is your running relationship like? Do you have any friendly rivalries?

CY - We do not run together as a family and no one likes to run with me/dad when there is an invite.

WY - However, we have done two events in the past as a family and everyone has enjoyed these events. Run at the Ridge and Ted’s Run. We have been involved in Run at the Ridge three times and Ted’s Run twice. Caitlyn and I will run together since we are faster than mom and younger sister.

TRL - If each of you had a TV show named after your running style what would it be called? But answer for the other person.

CY - “The Butt Kick Winners”
WY - “Small Wonder”

TRL - If you needed a little boost of energy during a race, and you saw a big sign, what would it say to give you the energy you needed?

CY - “10 Free Trips to Anywhere in the World if you come 1st!
WY - COLD BEER & CRISPY BACON at the Finish Line!

TRL - What does Ted's Run mean to you guys?

CY & WY - For our family, it gives us an opportunity to spend the morning together and run as a family. The money raised is also for a good cause. And it also recognizes Ted’s passion for running, reading and physical activity.

It's a good day to be alive.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hugging The Red

Won't you hold my hands over my heart?
I want you to close my eyes when it gets dark.
We go over the mountains and under the stars.
We go over the mountains and under the stars.

Ruben and The Dark, Bow and Arrow, from the album Funeral Sky

Today I run 13 miles. I find myself hugging the curvy banks of the Red River for a couple of those 13 miles. The trail is single track, overgrown with jungle-like vegetation. The Scottish Thistle is tall, thick, and wet from the early morning shower. The burrs scratch my knees ever so lightly, just enough to remind me that I am alive and running.  I run blissfully along this ancient trail. Ghosts of civilizations past run through me. Dwarfed by deep emerald vegetation, dabs of magenta. A sliver of blue sky overhead. A glimpse of a winding brown Red river.

Breathless, I am drenched with life force.

I am alone and I am in the moment. I am graciously thankful for this beauty, this opportunity, this run.

Alone and in the moment, it's a good day to be alive.