If you read my race report on the Ragnar Relay you also heard about the runner hit by a car in the middle of the night. Robby, only 18 years old, unfortunatly passed away 4 days later. One reader commented feeling like Ragnar didn't care enough about safety. The reader talked to many runners who also didn't feel safe during the race therefore the race wasn't safe and Ragnar was at fault. Was that runner asking other runners just looking for people to support the question of feeling unsafe? Or was the runner unbiased looking for runners who also felt safe. What about the runners who felt safe AND unsafe at various times during the race. How were those people counted?
Although I have not seen a DPS report or heard facts not circulated by rumors, I do know that Robby was supporting a fellow runner and needed to cross a highway to get water to his teammate. I belive this was also the case of the runner who died at the Vegas Ragnar Relay. I have heard, but have no confirmation, that both gentleman were not wearing a reflective vest. Would a reflective vest have helped the Vegas runner hit by a drunk driver? Would a vest have helped Robby if he did indeed step into traffic? We will never know those answers.
During Ragnar there were many times that I thought about the traffic coming towards me. At a high level did I feel my safety was at risk, yes? But everytime I go out on the road with cars, I put my safety at risk. I try and pay attention to the cars, watch the direction they are going, make sure they see me if there are at a stop waiting to make a turn. If I'm out on the road I have to be aware of my surroundings and the drivers out there are the road.
I also believe that runners should carry their own water. There are so many devices from handheld water bottles, water belts to camelbacks to make it easy for runners to carry their own water. If a runner can't go without water for the distance, they should carry their own water. This way it is the responsibility of the runner and not the van to give runner support. The van can still cheer, although stopping on the road and driving slow is a BIG hazard. The van has a responsibility of getting the next runner to the next exchange and giving the next runner ample time to use the restroom, warm up or stretch. More than once I have been rushed and stressed when we didn't get to the exchange early because we were giving runner support less than 2 miles from the next exchange.
Overall I feel Ragnar handled safety well. Could they do a better job? Sure they could. Could I do a better job with my awareness and safety? Yes, I could as well. On no terms am I trying to minimize the death of the two runners killed in the Vegas or Arizona relays. The death of Robby had an affect on me along with the death of a Phoenix runner back in December (who was not running a race). I have also thought a lot about the horror his team mates must have seen right after the accident. The deaths have helped me be more aware of my safety, visability and where I run. Anytime we runners go out on the road, race or not, we are putting ourselves in a position where something could go wrong. I choose to not live in fear of what could happen. If I did live in fear of this I would never go out for a run outside or even drive my car or take an airplane. There is risk in everything we do and we have to take responsibility for our own actions to minimize our risk.
The bottom line is please be safe while out there on the road and take the needed precautions.