To be honest, if you’d asked me a few months back about what I might waffle on about this year, “getting shot while out running” probably wouldn’t have made the shortlist. But, well, some times, life gets a little weird…
Although this happened in early February, I initially didn’t go on about it (too much. Anyone within physical earshot will have heard about it) partly because I was being relatively nonchalant about it as the injuries weren’t that bad, partly because I hadn’t really registered how bad it could have been, and partly because there was then a court case ongoing.
Now that the naughty little boy has been given 18 months in prison to reflect on it, the short-ish version of the story is that I was doing my interval training alone one Saturday at my normal local track when I stopped near the finish line to change my music. And then, out of nowhere, it felt like a massive hammer blow to my right hip. I pulled my shorts down and, sure enough, there’s a small bloodied hole staring back at me. So I turned around and ran the hell away.
Once I’d got over the trauma that my training session was going to be ruined, I naturally called the police and put a complaint in but didn’t really think much of it as I thought the likelihood of them catching anyone was close to nil and it was just “one of those things that happen”, like if you accidentally cross the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong street.
The leg was a little sore for a month and I’ve got a nice little scar from it but, again, “shit happens”, let’s move on. Plus, marathon runners be marathon runners, I’m used to running through pain!
But then, 6 weeks later, this idiot started shooting again and hit a teacher and pupil one day and a runner another. Clever. At this point, the local mayor started freaking out, the media got involved and the police rapidly escalated their enquiries. It actually only took them a few days to narrow down where the shots may have come from based on the angles of impact and, sure enough, they found a flat full of (all but one) legally owned rifles and guns. It turned out the flatmate of the owner had been using them while the owner was out at work but he apparently wasn’t aiming for us at all. Right. Suffice to say his defence obviously didn’t stack up much.
As time went by, more and more details started emerging. The most concerning one was that the weapon used – which I knew must have been powerful enough to make a hole through three layers of clothing – was more than just a toy gun and was actually a rifle with lead pellets/bullets which could have done some serious damage if they’d hit soft tissue (eg my balls about 10cm from there) or potentially killed me if it’d hit my temple or throat. All 4 of us were hit in the legs but I think that was more by luck than design.
So voilà. I never thought I’d get a better/worse injury than the one I got when I ran into scaffolding and broke some Ribs but there you go! I’ll probably get kidnapped by aliens on my next run.
I don’t spend much time on running forums but I did mention it on one at the time to hear back what other runners’ worse injuries had been while out running. The answers were pretty entertaining, and can be found here (though there are like 400 comments…), and I thought I’d classify them because I have way too much spare time!
- (unsurprisingly?), the most common injury was being attacked by an animal, mostly dogs or birds (29 instances)
- then, just scrapes and cuts from falls (25)
- standard running injuries (muscle tears, chaffing etc) (18)
- a slightly worryingly high number of assaults or punches (11)
- running into trees (7)
- running into other stuff (6)
- being stopped by police (6) (ok, not an injury but traumatic I guess!)
- being hit by a car (5), dumpster (2) or bike (2)
- being shot at / overhead, which is possibly more common than it should be! (4)
- other (3)
On the plus side, it gave me a good reason to get new kit for training…
Moral of the story : don’t shoot the messenger!