'It's scary out there': Runners' anger at not feeling safe to jog at night

Women runners from Norwich

Runners from across the city have spoken of their fears around running at night - Credit: Archant

Women across the city have vented their frustrations at having to avoid running alone at night for fear of their safety.

Sabina Nessa

Sabina Nessa was found dead near the OneSpace community centre in Cator Park on Saturday, September 18. - Credit: Met Police

Following on from the murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard, women are all the more fearful of attacks - especially when travelling in the dark. 

sarah everard

Sarah Everard was murdered by Wayne Couzens. - Credit: PA

At Catton parkrun this weekend women who have trained after hours for years are now changing their behaviour. 

Accountant Loren Sears, 28, who has run for 16 years and been a coach at Norwich Road Runners (NRR) for three years, said: "With everything that has happened over the last few years with violence against women it has made me more hesitant."

Runner and coach Loren Sears

Runner and coach Loren Sears - Credit: Loren Sears

Travel agent Sacha Jenkinson, 45, from Wroxham, who has been running for over two years, said: "Where I live there are no streetlights and I wouldn't feel comfortable going out alone, even in a safe place like Wroxham. 

"In an ideal world everybody would be safe but we don't live in a world like that."

Karen Patterson from Rackheath

Karen Patterson from Rackheath - Credit: Karen Patterson

Karen Patterson, 33, from Rackheath, who has run for five years, also only does evening runs with NRR, adding: "The world is a scary place now."

Tawa Groombridge, from New Catton

Tawa Groombridge, from New Catton - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

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Tawa Groombridge, 43, from New Catton, went on: "It is frustrating women have to think about this but unfortunately there are nasty people in the world."

Runner Chloe Harcourt from Old Catton

Runner Chloe Harcourt from Old Catton - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

Chloe Harcourt, 31, an Old Catton teaching assistant, added: "I wouldn't run somewhere where there were no lit paths. We shouldn't have to think like that, it is a shame."

Club runner Amanda Smith, 54, from Sprowston

Club runner Amanda Smith, 54, from Sprowston - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

Amanda Smith, 54, from Sprowston, part of Nice Life Fitness and Wellbeing club, said: "I have never liked going out in the dark on my own. I get spooked."

Nicky Nobbs, 57, from Hainford, who runs regularly

Nicky Nobbs, 57, from Hainford, who runs regularly - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

But Nicky Nobbs, 57, from Hainford, said she felt more comfortable running in the countryside but the murders of the two women had made her nervous.

Jayne Butler, chief executive of Rape Crisis, said: "All too often, men and boys are left out of the conversations on women’s safety. The onus is left on women to think of ways to keep themselves safe, rather than addressing the root cause of our fear: violent men."

Want to run at night? Coaches give advice on how to feel safer:

Norwich Road Runners' coaches Loren Sears and Wendy Smith have given the following tips on how women can feel safer when running in the dark.

Wendy Smith, 59,who runs training sessions for Norwich Road Runners

Runner Wendy Smith, 59,who runs training sessions for Norwich Road Runners - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

-If you are not part of a club try to buddy up with someone to run with.

-Run with a dog.

-Run on well-lit paths.

-If you do go out in the evening go when there is plenty of traffic and people in the area.

-Always take your phone with you.

-Try not to listen to music so you are aware of your surroundings.

-Tell people you know when you are on a run and tell them your route.

-Wear visible clothing.

New phone service to keep women safe

A phone service aimed at protecting women as they walk home has received the backing of the Home Secretary following the outcry caused by the murder of Sarah Everard.

A spokeswoman said the Home Office had received a letter from BT chief executive Philip Jansen proposing the emergency number be used to allow the vulnerable to have their journeys tracked and an alert triggered if they do not reach home in time.

It would work by people being able to download a mobile phone app which they can use to enter their home address and other regular destinations.

Before walking the user would start the app, or call or text 888, which would give the expected journey time and complete tracking via GPS.

A message would be sent to the user at the time they were predicted to arrive home and a failure to respond would issue calls to emergency contacts and then the police.

It is hoped the £50m project would be in place by Christmas.

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