Interview with Derek Murphy of MarathonInvestigation.com | Finding the Marathon Cheaters

Welcome back FAB-O friends!  2017 has whizzed right by, hasn’t it?  I am writing this on the first week of Spring (hello!  Wasn’t it just Christmas?)  I am very excited about this blog interview.  About a year ago, I heard about Derek Murphy of MarathonInvestigation.com – he was leading the charge to expose marathon cheaters and to keep them out of Boston.  My ears perked up!  I couldn’t believe there was someone out there who actually cared if someone cheated.  I was thrilled, to say the least and through a mutual friend, we “met up” on Facebook.

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Since that time, I have observed Derek diligently prove cheating and also prove innocence.  A unassuming man who has been thrust into the limelight with huge stories.  His blog received national acclaim with a NBC TODAY show segment.  I asked Derek to be interviewed as I wanted to share more of the man beyond his revealing blog posts.  One can assume that a person who goes after such negativity in this sport would be a negative person.  That is not Derek, he genuinely cares about this sport and the runners. He wants to see runners succeed and certainly will stop at nothing to expose the cheaters.  

Hope you enjoy the interview!

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DEREK MURPHY – MarathonInvestigation.com

 

C: We all know you love number crunching.  Can you give us a little bit about your work and education background? Family?  Hobbies?

D:  My work is mostly number crunching as well…but beyond that I like creating reports and getting behind the number’s to present them in a way that tell a story. I graduated from University of Cincinnati in 1993, and always planned to get my Masters – but that never happened. I was accepted to Law School but chose a different path. My family is everything, been married for almost 23 years, and I have a 5 year old son and 7 year old daughter.

 

C: What are your hobbies, (besides catching cheaters)?

D: Watching Nick Jr with my kids, helping with First Grade Math (harder than you’d think!), building and playing with Legos with my preschooler, going to soccer games and Tae Kwon Do. We love going to the Museum and the Zoo with the kids. So basically, my family.

 

C: You say you were once a runner, when was that and what races?  Of course, I have to ask, did you suspect anyone was cheating or see anyone cheating?

D: I was too far back, and to concerned about myself. I never noticed anyone cutting the course in front of me
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C: The story of Mike Rossi got you interested in looking at race results but the post on Gia Alvarez is what got the public’s attention. What was your first thought when you saw a lot of attention coming to you and your blog?

D: Really it was Kip Litton. I came to that story late – and most everything was dug up. I read through the blog that the guy put together on Kip and remember how detailed it was. I thought the guy was kind of crazy for putting it together. Looking back, I see he was ahead of his time.

I always enjoyed looking at the traffic after making a post. The post on Gia Alvarez immediately was generating more traffic than I ever had.  I didn’t think that my article on her would ever get that attention. That was the first time I ever received any media requests—besides the Runner’s World profile. The Gia article came out a couple weeks before the initial Runner’s World story.  Those two events are really what made the blog take off. Those events also forced me to take a look at the articles I would write and be more careful about naming runners – because by that point I became aware that I wasn’t really just writing to myself and a few friends.

 

C: You probably realize that runners are a very passionate group of people.  Has that worked in your favor or do you think people get too emotional about finding cheaters?  

D: It’s definitely worked in my favor as it relates to Boston qualifiers. Of course there is a group that says that it shouldn’t matter to me and that I am shaming runners by posting my articles. Some say I should just notify the RD’s. However, just notifying the RD’s does not have the deterrent effect that writing articles about cheating does. Also writing articles raises awareness and results in more tips, which means less runners will get away with it.

On the flip side, I think some people always take it too far. I always cringe when I hear of people contacting the runners directly or making inappropriate comments to them. Unfortunately, I cannot control or predict the reactions of everyone.  I am more cautious about the articles I chose to write and how much identifying information I put out there on the average cheater.

 

C: You have reported on many cheaters.  Any that particularly frustrate you?  

D: Marlon Bascombe – the running coach. I was unable to get him disqualified despite overwhelming evidence. The main reason I failed with that is that the NJ marathon changed management, and the new management was not in charge when Marlon ran there. His followers take the fact that he was not DQ’d as vindication.

Also, I have to mention I am frustrated by the Parvaneh Moayedi and Larry Macon situation with Guinness World Record. I have provided as much evidence as possible that their records were ‘embellished’. Unless they have time machines, it is impossible that they have achieved what they claim. For some reason Guinness ignores this.

 ->  Parvaneh & Larry blog post 

 

C: I was asked awhile back how you could have job satisfaction from a job like this, that dives into the negative of this sport.  How do you keep yourself from getting jaded about others?  

D: Yes, I spend the time looking at the negative side – but it is so those that earn it, can experience the positive side. I’ve heard from a runner that thanked me for what I do – she firmly believes that without my work she would have lost out on her Boston spot. For the most part I am able to distance myself from the emotional side of it. When I am analyzing results, they are just bib #s and times on a spreadsheet. When I write an article, I try to look at the human side of it.  

 

C: How do you look at the human side when all you see is numbers on a spreadsheet?

D: I take a step back after doing all the spreadsheet work. If I am writing about a specific individual, I make every effort to reach out to speak or email with them. There are times where I backed off on publicly naming someone after I learned more about them personally.

 

C: Do you have any funny stories to share?

D: For a few days after Boston, I received quite a few tips. Most of the time the tipsters were correct in spotting runners that cheated.  I received 5 tips on a single runner. All of the runners said that there was no way the guy they saw could have earned the bib # he was wearing. He was in one of the early corrals with a bib # in the 1000’s. It turns out, he just put on some weight since he qualified about 1-1/2 years prior.  

I also received tips that someone was wearing the police commissioner’s old 2013 bib. I almost put an article up. It turns out it was for the filming of the movie ‘Patriot Day’.

 

C: With all the scrutiny, do you think you will ever want to return to running and face your peers?  You know everyone is going to be watching your results?  Lol

D: Yes. I have decided to run The Columbus Marathon this year. That was my first marathon, and I think it would be fitting to give it another go. I never fully prepared properly for a marathon. I enjoyed running them..but I could have performed better. I have no idea what kind of time I will run. But it is a goal of mine to break my PR – 8 years after running my last marathon (My PR is over 5 hours).

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C: That’s great.  Are you following a specific training program?  What do you enjoy about running?  What keeps you going when the miles are tough?

D: Way too early to start training for Fall 😉  I am starting to run a little bit now. In the past I’ve been able to get where I can slowly run a decent distance fairly quickly. So, over the next month or 2,  I am going to build my base to where I can comfortably run 10k at about 10- 11 min pace, and then I will fall into one of the Hal Higdon plans. I should probably go with the novice plan at this point. Still evaluating my plans – may take a trip out to Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Marathon in November, instead.

 

C: We know runners cheat, but what about the RD’s that look the other way or enable the cheating. What do you have to say to them?

D: It’s disappointing when the occasional RD looks the other way. There is a difference between not having the time or resources to dig through for every cheater. But I do get annoyed when RD’s look the other way. There was one case where I reported a cheater with a BQ time, that cheated in a race multiple years – and the RD told me to report him again if he cheats next year (He did cheat, and I reported him again). 

 

C: Walk me through the scenario.  You find a cheater, you contact the suspect and what happens if they admit they did cheat.  Do you still make the report public or contact Boston privately to ensure they do not run Boston?  

D: If someone cheated one time and admits it, I would make sure they get DQ’d and removed from Boston if applicable and leave it at that. In most cases they don’t respond until after I write an article. If they admit it at that point, I will note that in the article.

 

C: Have you considered going to a race expo to see if people recognize you and you can get more tips?  You know you are quite the rock star!  

D: Not really. I don’t think anyone would recognize me by site. If I wore a sign that said I ran the website marathoninvestigation.com, that might get some attention. I have thought that speaking at expos might be a potential next step – but I haven’t pursued that.

 

C: Has there been a report that left you feeling satisfied you caught the cheater?  One that made you feel “oh yes” at the end of the day?  

D: A few. When Runners World was writing the article on my process to catch Boston qualifiers that cheated, they vetted all the cases where I determined that someone cheated. There was one case where I identified a course cutter. RW didn’t feel the evidence was compelling enough to include this runner in the published totals of the # of cheaters identified. Looking at the course, it was difficult to see how he would have pulled it off.  Early this year I received a tip about this guy – he obviously cut the course in Nashville. He was DQ’d and denied another Boston entry. That validated my initial finding.

On the flip side – the story I worked the hardest on was where I helped to vindicate Ryan Lee. He was disqualified from The London Marathon. I was able to take a snapshot of him on the course – and used Google street view to determine his exact location. I was able to identify other runners to determine the time the photo was taken. That information proved that his start time as recorded by the marathon was inaccurate – if he started when they said he did, he could not have been in that photo.

 

C: I remember that story about Ryan.  Based on your posts, I could tell you were working so hard for that young man.  What a sweet victory to have him vindicated.  Have you heard from him or his mom?

D: Yes, I reached out a few weeks ago. He is training for London. I look forward to seeing how he does.  ->  

Ryan Lee’s Story

 

C: What’s in the future for you?  Still writing?  Do you think this will ever get so big you will have a team of investigators?

D: Good question. This has definitely grown beyond what I ever envisioned. If I had the time, I could write multiple articles a day – and catch more cheaters. There are volunteers and others that feed me tips, and do work on their own, or help me gather data.  I have begun to ask others to write guest articles.

I have expanded the scope of my articles – but my main mission will always be to catch the cheaters. I am always thinking about the best way to catch and prevent cheaters.  One way may be to partner up with races in a more formal manner. If I were to do that I would need to do so in such a way that I am still viewed as independent.

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Thank you, Derek for taking the time to allow my readers to get to know you.  On behalf of the running community, I would like to thank you for being so diligent to expose the cheaters and prove the innocence of those wrongfully DQ’d.  

 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy

~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


LVTC 2016 Championship Series | Waited 6 Years For This Moment

After my first ever long distance race in 2010 (RnRLV 2010, the last year the event was during the daytime) I ventured into the unknown world of racing and collecting bling.  My first year, I did not travel to any races, I ran only local races.  A great deal of those races were LVTC events. They were great practices for me and I could work on my jitters of being at a start line.

Quickly, I learned about the LVTC Championship Series.  It was a collection of 10-12 races each year that a racer could receive points for participating and placement (Overall and Age Division).  I didn’t take much interest in the series as all of this was new to me and I was focusing on chasing bling and PR’s.  That all changed during the LVTC Christmas party where I saw the Top 5 winners of the Champions Series (CS) receive a beautiful silver bowl trophy.  Those who placed in 6-10 received a ceramic mug.  At that moment, I wanted to earn a silver bowl!

I had four major goals in my running career:

  1. Qualify and run the Boston Marathon in 2016 (the 20th anniversary of the race). Well, we know how that went.  Ugh!
  2. Earn the Gold Phidippides Award every year. Accomplished every year since 2011.
  3. Earn a spot on the USATF All-American team.  Accomplished every year since 2011.
  4. Earn a LVTC Championship Series silver bowl trophy.  My best place was 8th in 2015.

Every year, I have set out to achieve #4.  Like #1, I became frustrated how close I got but never right there. So often, I plan to run the designated races but something interferes with the schedule or I am injured.  I was close in 2015 with 8th place and I believe I would of earned the 5th spot if I had not missed so many events.  BTW, I loved my mug 🙂

At the beginning of the year, my brother and I set out to run every CS event.  However, since they added the Revel Marathon to the schedule, I knew I would miss that one for sure.  I had to work hard and get good placement throughout the year to get my silver bowl.  My eyes were on 5th place.  Anything higher was certainly gravy to the year.

We started at the year at the traditional LVTC Championship 10k at Kellogg-Zaher park, that is also the location they hand out the CS awards.  Gosh I hate this course, not sure what the appeal is for any race to be in the direction they choose to go. There are many other options.  I was in the top 10 after that race.  Most runners show up for the first race, so I wasn’t too worried about where my standings would be at this point.  I had 11 months to ago, after all.

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February – we had the metric mile race at the UNLV track.  I finished in a strong Overall place.  That boosted my standings to put me in first place. Now, that was a hoot!

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March – Celebrate Education back at Kellogg-Zaher.  Here we go again. What an awful course layout and a strange distance of 8k.  The wind was beyond blistery and I could not breathe.  My dizzy spells kicked in and I muddled through it to get another AG spot.  More points.

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April – my friend, Ryan and I pushed a lovely person in a wheelchair for the Summerlin Half.  I knew the best I could get was the participation points. An AG placement was out of the question.  Points are points.  By this time, I was already getting irritated with my running and why was I doing this CS once again?  I had committed to one more year to try to get the bowl, and whatever happens – I was done.  No more trying next year.

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May – opted out of the Revel Marathon.  Remember, I am retired from that distance.  Not even the CS silver bowl award could bring me out of marathon retirement.

June – Summer Series. Back on the track at UNLV. Another awful race performance, but I earned some good points and keeping myself in a good CS placement.

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July – no race

 

August – Legends 5k.  The person who heads up the CS series is Coach Phil Lawton.  A beloved coach who have coached many of our area superstars.  Legends is his baby and he takes a lot of pride in managing this race.  This was my race to honor Honeybear, as she had passed away not too long before that.  It was a struggled, I had to walk a bit of the 5k.  The heat tore me down and kept me there.

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September – Forrest Challenge.  I hate this race. Never ran it before and I will not to do it again. 8k elevation at Bristolecone area at Mt Charleston.  I would of never finished if it had not been for my friend, Ryan (same person who I ran with at the Summerlin Half).

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October – Danny Gans.  Brother and I were so ready to be done with the CS series.  We both placed in our AG.

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November – Turkey Trot with Jus Run 5k.  I was very happy at this race, I knew it was my last CS race.

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December – after running the Holiday Half the last two years and loathed this course as much as I hated Forrest Challenge I was not looking forward to this event.  I opted out of the Holiday Half and ran a 5k fun run with my son instead.  Best choice, don’t you think?

Going into that race, I was in 2nd place and I had the silver bowl locked in.  I knew our local elite Erica Schramm would take 2nd if she won 1st place OV at the Holiday Half.  I was shocked to hear she earned 2nd OV behind her female teammate of RRRC.  That put us in a tie for 2nd and since I ran more races than her, I was the 2nd place winner and she was 3rd.  Erica was far more deserving of 2nd place as she is a much speedier runner than I. 

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2nd place.  That is far more than I could of ever imagined I would be at the end of the year.  All I needed was 5th place for that silver bowl.  Better yet, my brother earned 2nd place for his CS efforts. The irony – 3rd place male is named Eric and the 3rd place female is Erica.

On January 7th, I finally held the silver bowl trophy in my hands.  I was able to stand next to my brother and know we accomplished our goal, together. We can retire from our Championship Series efforts…finally.

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2016 LVTC Championship Series Awards

 

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The moment I received my silver bowl, finally. Yeah, that’s a pretty cheesy smile!

 

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I waited six years to do this!

 

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Both 2nd place finishers. I am grateful to share this past year with my brother.

 

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Our Celebration Lunch. Well, we had more – but this was the fun part.

 

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“Is this really happening?”

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No words an ever convey the gratitude I have for Coach Phil

 

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Finally, the picture that Coach Phil and I have waited for.

 

My thanks to:

My brother (pictured) who accepted my invitation to join me in the Championship Series challenge.  We had some crazy adventures along the way, but I am grateful he tagged along and earned a beautiful silver bowl for his athletic accomplishment and his patience.

To Coach Phil Lawton (pictured in the center). The man with the vision and never once let me forget about my Championship Series dream.  He encouraged me and reminded me every month why I set goals.  Thank you for being the man you are and keeping the running dreams alive for all of us.

My husband, kids and furkids.  You send me out the door, month after month to chase down my goals.  Cheered me on, even when I didn’t have the strength to get out the door for a training run.

Ryan Launder – you ran 2 of these races with me.  I appreciate your friendship and the ability to keep my head in the game to finish the miles.  Donuts on me, any time!

 

…thus, ends my LVTC Championship Series quest 

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Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy

~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


RACE RECAP: Resolution & Revolution 5k | Back2Back 5k’s

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My brother and I decided to run the TripleDareRuns.com Resolution Run (New Year’s Eve) and Revolution Run (New Year’s Day).  The NYE race started at 4pm at Kellogg-Zaher park.  I was curious to know what direction they were going as there are many options, but very few good options.

Day and half prior to NYE, I was in my closet tidying up and I fell off my step ladder. To keep myself from hitting my head I fell in such a way that the ladder sandwiched (smashed) my left ankle in between the two parts.  Nice bruise huh?

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After a day and half of epsom salt soaks, essential oils and the wonderful KT Tape recovery patch, I tried out my ankle the morning of NYE with a short dog job.  It felt okay, so I decided to give the NYE 5k a whirl.  Not a race, but at least give it good effort.

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When we arrived at Kellogg Zaher park, it was good to see some familiar races from years gone by!

 

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After a solid warm-up, we were ready to go.  Bro started his 10k about 3-4 minutes before the 5k.  The course went the opposite direction of most races out there, which I love.  I will certainly look at this option for New Day Racing.

The first part of the 5k is an up and down while climbing to the underpass.  Not overtly hilly but enough to take some wind and overt energy to get there.  Once to the Durango overpass, we made a right to continue onto the paved trail to the turn around.  After the turn around it’s basically all downhill or a good decline to the finish. All felt okay, I was sitting around 10th place female Overall at the turn around.  Once I could settle into my downhill pace and relax my breathing, I was hoping to move up a few paces. Eventually, I passed two more ladies and finished 8th Female Overall.

This race certainly was going better than the brainless one I had a Hoover Dam on 12/10!

I finished the race at 25:32.  Meh.  I wasn’t too happy with that, but whatever.

Not too much longer after that my brother finished and he was first male Overall in the 10k. Score!  I earned 1st place in my AG.  I am always grateful to be on the podium, especially in the top spot. Received a champagne glass as my AG award.

After a few pictures, I headed hope to settle in for the night to be with my doggies.  Las Vegas is firework Capital and I was ready to buckle in for the night.

It was great to finally meet Heidi Dove, the Race Director!

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Next Day:  Revolution Run 5k – New Year’s Day

Same location, starting at 12noon.

10k started a few minutes before the 5k.  I was tired this time around.  I was up and down most of the night with all the booming going on around our home.  I decided to push and keep my pace at a steady sub9 up the hill.  I had no idea what I did the night before, but inclines are just not my friend and I need to be more aggressive.  I have lost way too many races and PR’s because of inclines.

After the turn around, I settled in but the sleepiness was getting to me.  I felt it was more important to just hold onto what I had.  I was in 5th Female OV at that point. At less than 1/2 mile to go a female racer zoomed by me and I could tell she had to be in my AG or older.  Not sure where she came from!  lol

So, I ended up with 2nd AG this time.  No AG awards, this time.

My brother won the 10k again.  That’s a double!

(how do you like my ladybug socks?)

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It was a good racing weekend and I am grateful to be upright before, during and after the race.  A little winded, but what do you expect when you are sprinting a 5k?  All good, right?

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Race Shirt

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My finisher medals and NYE AG award. No AG awards presented to the AG winners on NYD

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Happy 2017 from the Running Siblings!

 

My thanks to Triple Dare Runs for their hospitality and nice race.  I am sure we will be back for another event.  Of course, the weekend could not of happened without the endless support of my husband, my teenage boys, my furkids, Daisy Mae and Jack and my brother.

I would also like to thank Glukos Energy, Run Gum and KT Tape for getting me through these two races. Keeping me upright is a big task these days.

My Race Essentials:

NYE:  Running Skirts Compression

NYD: Vimvigr Compression

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Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum

~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


RACE RECAP: Avengers Half Marathon | Legacy Streak Continues

Brother and I arrived to the Superhero Avenger Half Marathon weekend on Thursday and headed straight to the expo.  Immediately, we saw some good differences.  More Marvel characters on the banners and an overall better vibe.

After the lackluster Dumbo weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Dumbo was suppose to be the crown jewel of the Disneyland races and they fell short in so many ways.  The first two years of Avengers (this being the third) were managed wonderfully but a lot of details were missing.  It was evident that Avengers has the lowest production budget but it did not hinder the experience.

We quickly got our packet and headed upstairs to the expo.  While the Disney expo’s are always well organized, the main problem is they are identical every year.  Nothing different, same old, same old.  While I love structure, it would be nice to have a different look to it or even different set up. Their expo speaker was downright annoying.  It was like fingernails on a chalkboard.  Disney may want to consider pre-recording with a voice actor and pipe in the feed in the future. When we arrived to pick up our shirts the volunteers were already going nuts with the expo announcers voice and “announcing”. That was the only real downer about the expo, that I saw.

We headed over to the merchandise area so I could buy my traditional pin and I found one of my cast member friends, Robyn!  I love that gal and real bummed I accidentally deleted our picture from my phone.  Ugh!

After all said and done, we headed to the hotel to unpack and get ready for the big weekend.  Brother was running the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge (10k and Half) and I was running the Half.  I plan to keep my Avenger Legacy going as long as I am able.

Friday –

Just like Dumbo, I set out for my AM shake out run while the 5k was happening.  It’s always so much fun to see all the runners walking around Downtown Disney with their medals.  I try my best to congratulate as many as possible.  I remember when a 5k seemed like an impossible dream to me.

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After a quick shower, I headed back to the Expo for my runDisney Volunteer shift. I have never volunteered with rD before, so I was excited.  Historically, I go to the park on Friday but this year, I opted out so I could volunteer.

I volunteered at the 10k booth and met so many first-time runners!  It was so much fun and I hope to do it again.  Maybe work the actual race sometime.

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RunDisney feeds their volunteers very well! A catered meal form the Disneyland Hotel.

 

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At the expo with my first rD volunteer shirt!

 

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My volunteers buddies!

Saturday –

Up at 3am so we could be walking towards DL for my brother’s 10k.  I decided I wanted to do another shake out while they were running.  My foot and toe was not feeling so good, and I needed to see how it was feeling.  Once my brother and friends started towards the corrals, I started my run. First, through DTD and then onto the DL/DCA courtyard.  That was so surreal!  No one around but the Cast Members.  Lights were on and Superhero music was playing.  I could of run in circles all day like that.  I took a quick photo at the DL gates.  I started to feel regrets about not going into the park this weekend when I saw the gates.  #HeavySigh.  Headed back through DTD to the Finish Line and wait for Kirk and a few friends.

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At the DL gates pre sunrise. I loved this run!

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“Goofy Joe”

After the Male OV runner broke the tape, my dear friend, Joe Spatafore came through in his hand cycle.  Let me tell you about this man.  He is injured and instead of sitting on the sidelines and pouting he found a way to compete.  He is using a hand cycle.  I have never seen this man happier than when he is on the course.  I love him and his family dearly, they are family to us! (see picture below).

Not too much longer after that, bro came through.  He was 11th OV, won his AG and the Military.  Mission accomplished!  He has earned an award at every Disney race he has run in. 

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#RunningBro flying into the finish (of course)

Sunday –

Half Marathon Day!  After hearing from the runners how much they enjoyed the 10k and the improvements (vs last year and Dumbo) I was eager to see what the Half Marathon would bring.  First, I knew the course was different.  I had zero issues with the previous courses, but I know many hated the part by the River near the Anaheim Stadium. This year’s course was avoiding that area entirely.

Brother and I were dressed as Quick Silver and Scarlet Witch.  They are siblings in the Marvel comic books and movies.  I spent a long time searching out exact replicas of some of her accessories like the jewelry and arm bracers.  I was excited, but also feeling “oh geez” I felt completely out of shape and wondered what would happen.  My foot was not feeling so hot and overall, I knew I was not in the racing form I needed to be.

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Race began and we quickly ran into the park.  During that hour it is PITCH BLACK. Disney really needed more lightening, a few of us almost tripped and fell.

First, we were in the DCA area and the regret of not going into the park was sinking in.  Then, we ran into DL.  I looked up to see Walt’s apartment and then it hit me as we turned the corner on Main Street.  The castle.  Yep, I had officially regretted not going to the park.  I loved volunteering but no park time did throw me out of my zone.  I couldn’t stay focused while running in the park, not at all. The worst?  Seeing It’s a Small World with the Christmas lights.  I could of easily just stopped the race at that moment and sat there for hours.

Made our way outside of the park and I did my best to regroup, but never quite got there.  Foot was aching, but not hindering me.  As we climbed the freeway overpass to get into the Stadium area, I felt the toe “pop”.  That did not feel good at all.  I didn’t tell my brother as I know he would of made me stop.  Until I was limping, I felt there was no reason to stop.  This was around Mile 7.  I wanted to finish and get as many pictures as I could with my brother on the course.

Coming out of the Stadium, we were met with a long line of performers in Marvel outfits.  I saw the comic book version of Scarlet Witch, but not the movie version (what I was wearing).  I did get a few shout outs, too. That was fun. 

The last few miles is identical to the Disneyland Half Marathon and I was ready to get back into the park (Mile 12) and be done.  My foot was hurting and I couldn’t get the vision of the park out of my head.

We finished in 2:08:02.  (Last year, I finished in 1:53 and an AG award)  Funny, the course was the same distance and my race time was much longer but this year’s course went by much quicker.  If I had to choose, I would say this year’s course was the best of the 3.  I hope they keep this one!

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We immediately headed to the medic area so we could ice.  My brother is having ongoing achilles issues and of course my foot needed ice.  It was there, when I told him about my foot.  Yeah, he wasn’t happy I hid that from him, but oh well.  I think having compression socks on was a godsend to me.  Kept my foot stabilized until I could get off it.

After icing and a few quick photos we needed to get on the road so my brother could run the RnRLV Half marathon that night.

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Overall, this event was the best of the 3 years (and I enjoyed them all) and MUCH better managed than Dumbo.  What a relief!  I knew RunDisney could pull it off for us.

GRADES:

Medal:  B – I love Disney medals but they do need to change them every year.  Unfortunately, they took away our spinner medal from the previous years.

Shirt:   A – Always love their shirts.  They are the only shirts I keep.  Long sleeve, to!

Course: A – Loved this course layout. Please keep it!  I heard many other runners rave about it too. It’s a winner, folks!

Mile Markers:  C – way off.  Some were off as much as 1/10th of a mile.  Not good.

RunDisney Cast Members:  A – Kind, smiling and always helpful.

Characters on the course:  A – (At Dumbo, they put the Characters behind fences, railing and completely out of reach.  huh?)  At Avengers, they had the Characters with great backdrops.  BTW, bring Black Widow a bit closer to the course not stuck back in a nook.  She was easily missed at DCA.

Post race food:  A – bravo!  (Dumbo post race food boxes were AWFUL.  Greasy cheese, recycled boxes from Princess and Tinkerbell.)  Avengers – much better (see photo)

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Post race photos:  A – (Another Dumbo fail.) We had generic RunDisney backdrops, nothing race specific.  Avengers – love the backdrops! Bonus – they created a special photo area with the Disney photographers were you could bring your family for photos.  What a fantastic idea!

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Announcers:  B – (That was a BIG Dumbo fail.  It was like watching a WWE (wrestling) match on that stage.)  Avengers, they had the ladies (Carissa and Andrea) on the stage and Quami “on the Street”.  Quami was on point and found his place vs being on the stage.  Carissa and Andrea on the main stage are okay. Andrea stepped up her game and seemed more confident.  Carissa did fine on the 5k and 10k (as I am told) but once she got to the Finish Line for both races and during the Half Marathon pre-race she was her typical screaming in the mic person.  She really needs to take a chill pill and let the mic do the work.  I still think a male/female combo is best for this venue, not a fan of the two female announcing team (even though Andrea is one of my good friends).  Surely, RunDisney can find a male to compliment a female (and yes, my vote is on Andrea because she did a great job, not because she is my friend).  Keep Quami on the street, it was a lot of fun to watch him! BTW, grateful beyond words that RunDisney did not have the announcers dance on the small stage.  That was a total embarrassment at Dumbo.  Let them announce, don’t make them dance.  Please.

Race Vibe: A – I give it an A because I saw so many happy and smiling faces during the weekend. (Unlike Dumbo where everyone was walking around disappointed and unmotivated).

OVERALL grade: B+/A-:  Fix the announcing team line-up, the mile markers and repetitive medal design, they will have an A race.  I hope that rD realizes the importance of the Start & Finish Line announcers.  It’s not just a bunch of people on mic’s, they set the tone for our event.

Despite my lackluster race performance and I didn’t go into the park, I love this race weekend.  Why? It’s a different demographic.  Not about Princesses or sparkles.  It’s about Superhero’s.  It was a lot of fun to watch all the CosPlay and see runners become their favorite Superhero.  I will be keeping my Half Marathon Legacy going for sure.

Dear RunDisney:  if you happen to read this.  Request for Dumbo weekend: Be sure to recognize the 5 year Legacy runners of the Dumbo Challenge.  Even a special bib would be great, but please do something.

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  • My thanks to RunDisney for upping their game and making the necessary improvements since the Dumbo weekend.  It was wonderful to walk away from a Disney race with good feelings vs “what just happened?”. See you at Tinkerbell!

 

  • My utmost thanks to my husband, kids and dogs who continually see me out the door and welcome me home with hugs, smiles and licks (the dogs, not the husband and kids).

 

  • My brother who convinced me to wear Scarlet Witch and run along side of me despite your weird jokes.  I am now emotionally attached to this character.

 

  • To Joe and MJ – seeing you was a highlight and I am so glad we can share our Disney experiences

 

  • To Emil – Dude!  You wore a cotton shirt.  J/k – I always love seeing you at races.

 

  • To Andrea – thank you for your enthusiasm and lunch!  It was great to see you again!

My Race Day Essentials

Fueling:  Glukos Energy Tablets – Fruit Punch

Extra Kick:  RunGum – Cinnamon

Support:  KT Tape – Pro Extreme

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum

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What To Do With Your Endless Pile of Sports Headbands | Another Black Hole In My Life

It’s that time again, I am reorganizing and purging stuff all over my house.  I am allocating a few months if not a month to reorganize and purge every corner in my house.  I have been exceptionally unhappy with the lack of organization in my house.  It clutter my mind and zaps my energy.

As a runner, we collect lots of things.  For me, it’s socks and headbands.  Are you with me, friends?  Although I seem to have my go-to favorites, I am always adding another headband to an outfit or another pair of cool compression socks.

Within the past 2 years, I have kept all my headbands in a shoe box.  I felt they were easy to find.  No they were not. I was always rummaging looking for a particular headband for a specific race.  After dumping the box on the floor looking for a headband, I knew I had enough of that concept.  As I came up off the floor I looked at my dressing scarfs on the hanger (those are my non-running obsessions. I love scarves of any color and size).  I thought to myself, “I wonder….”

I grabbed a few hangers and started knotting them (onto the hanger).  Using the felt covered hangers was a life saver, btw.  Less than a half hour later, I have all my headbands on neatly organized on 2 hangers and I can find them, any one of them in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately, this also showed me I have way too many solid black headbands.  This was the problem!  I couldn’t find what I was looking for (in my shoe box) so I would buy another one.  Waste of $$$!!!

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I am very pleased how this turned out.  Of course, I will be adding more to my collection very soon!

How do you keep your headbands handy and organized?  I would love to see your ideas.

 

fab-running-logo  Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum

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RACE RECAP: Pumpkinman 5k | This Was a Surprise

It’s been awhile since I posted a race recap and thought I would start with the BBSC Endurance Racing Pumpkinman 2016 in Boulder City, NV

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Last year, my brother was still in his post-op recovery and walked the 5k.  It took him 45 minutes to complete his 5k (walking), he could run a 10k faster than 45 minutes.  He was frustrated and I could see his patience was wearing thin.   It didn’t help that I earned a 3rd place Overall and I knew he was feeling left out of the festivities of getting an OV award.

Fast forward to this year.  What a difference a year makes!

Last year, I was still trying to grab onto what Meniere’s Disease was doing to my body and how it was going to affect my running.  This year, I came into this race with zero expectations.  I was lucky to be able to run 3 miles a day, for 3 days in a row. The disease had run havoc on my body within the past 6 months.  This would of marked my 5th run day in a row, I was excited to see if my body would allow me to run 5 days in a row.

Last year, I earned the 3rd OV.  I laughed at that possibility, this year. Seriously, laughed.  It was not happening.  I was going to be jumping for joy if I finished the race with no walk breaks and did not pass out at the finish line.

I opted to go a little Halloween on my outfit.  A skeleton singlet, black skirt (yes, you read that right – A SKIRT), a black choker and Sugar Skull headband.  Of course, I had black compression socks and my new black Altra One 2.5’s to round out the outfit.

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I will admit I was feeling very body conscience in that outfit. The singlet was way slimming (aka tight) and I was in a skirt.  But, I seem to muddle through those body shaming thoughts before the race start.

My plan was to run the 5k (bro was running the 10k).  After a warm up and the traditional start or finish line selfie, I was ready to get on the road.

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The 10k and 5k started at the same time and I saw a number of women ahead of me going towards the 5k turn around. Not until the turn around do you have any idea who is running what distance.  My breathing was rather labored, but that is expected and I have resided that 1.5-2.5 are the hardest points for me to run in a 5k.

As I came up on the turn around, I saw one and then two gals turn back up. They were 1st and 2nd place obviously. Then, there were 3 gals ahead of me also turning around.  3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. However, as soon as I turned I could see it was a mother and her two young daughters and they had already were worn out. They sprinted the first half and had nothing left, I think.  Not wanting to chance anything, I bolted past them and realized I was now coming up on the incline (of the decline at the beginning to the race). I told myself to put as much distance between the gals and me, as they might catch me on the incline.  I was going for the 3rd place and if my head could stay upright I had a shot.

Climbing to 2.5 I really, REALLY wanted to walk.  I mean, REALLY.  I was scared if I pushed too hard I would be kissing pavement very soon.  I really wanted to look behind me to see who was there, but I didn’t.  I knew that once I changed my focus, I would lose my balance.

I found myself getting closer and closer to 2nd place, but I didn’t feel compelled to push any harder.  OV to me was great, well – standing upright was such a huge accomplishment, I didn’t want to blow it.

Crossing the finish line, I was standing!  Breathing hard, but standing.  I finally looked at my watch after 30 seconds of standing there and realized I had not turned it off.  It was just ticking past 25 minutes. Which meant I was under 25 minutes?  No way, I decided to wait for the official results.

That’s impossible on this hilly course. A week before, I did a 26.54 on a flat course.  So, I went to the timing table. BBSC Endurance Running has this coolest timing feature.  Key in your bib number and it gives you a print out of your time, place and pace.  Poof!

My first print out had me as First OV and a pace of 168:11 per minute.  haha!

I told Alex, their wonderful timing guy to fix and made my way to get some water and get back to the finish line, I wanted to video tape the bro finishing up. This was a big deal race for him, so I wanted to catch that moment.

I knew JJ Santana would win the 10k, and I was pretty sure that Bro would be in the Top 3.  My hope is he would finish in sub40, that would be awesome.

At the 37 minute mark, I could see him coming up that last incline towards the finish.  He crossed the line at 38:##!

I finished in 24:26.  16 seconds away from a PR and I was worried about standing upright. Thank you to my body for cooperating!

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(Due to the sun facing the podium and casting shadows, we decided to do some creative poses on the podiums.)

In addition, we wore created special bibs to show our support for Craig Trainor who tragically lost his legs in a freak automobile accident this year.  He is a valued member of the BBSC family and we wanted to show our support to his recovery.

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Our traditional post race Finish Line selfie with a beautiful Uhaul truck in the background (thanks, Bro)

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All in all, it was a solid race and I couldn’t be more grateful that my body allowed me to do this race, not only to finish strong but to earn another shinny bling.

Thank you BBSC Endurance Running, Boulder City, Nevada for your hospitality, my brother, my husband and the incredible people in my life who reminded me through the many months of this dreaded disease that I still had speed and muscle left in me.  I ran for you and because of you, I finished.

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Fueling before:  Glukos Energy Lemon chewable tablets

During the race:  RunGum Cinnamon flavor

Post race:  RobKellerMD.com Original Glutatione Formula capsules

Outfit:

Black skeleton singlet (sorry, I cannot remember where I bought it.  It was awhile ago)

Black Zoot running skirt

Black compression socks from Amazon

Black Altra Running One 2.5’s

Sugar Skull headband from Amazon

Black KT Tape for knee support

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fab-running-logo Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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Is Your Race Day Bag a Black Hole? | Simple Solution

Since we are on the topic of traveling to a race day event, we cannot forget the importance of packing.  How many times have you forgotten your fueling, race clothes or even shoes? (me, raising hand).

I love organizational tips of any kind.  Work, home, racing, etc.  Some call them tips, some call them “hacks”.

After the Disneyland Dumbo Double weekend and having a big toiletry bag full of make-up, toiletries and more.  Every morning, I was digging through this blackhole of a bag looking for what I needed.  I had enough of that!  Countless traveling run-cations, I had to find an answer.

On my hotel nightstand was my roll-up for my charger cords.  It was very similar to a jewelry roll.  I thought, that’s what I need, but much better and more elastic bands.  My first thought was to ask a friend to create one for me, but I went to Amazon and found a nice sized one.  Elastic straps on one side and pockets on the other.  Only $19.99 (shipping is free with Prime).

The organizer arrived and I immediately fell in love!  I was able to find places for all my makeup and daily toiletries.  I labeled each spot so when I travel I won’t forget to bring my mascara or what not. Well, I thought it was for traveling, I was so wrong.  I am using it daily!  It keeps everything organized, I zip it up and put it away under my sink. Very tidy!

Fast forward to today…I am looking through my gear bag and I have a mess of little compartments, other little bags and who knows what else.  Another light bulb moment!  I ordered the same cord organizer bag I did for my makeup and toiletries (but a tad smaller to fit into my race day backpack and any other clear bag the race company requires us to use).

This was the before:

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This is the after:

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Poof!  All I need pre and post race is in one place and no wondering, “where is my BioFreeze?

 

Another organizational problem solved.  In addition, let’s say you are too tired or injured to dig into your bag and someone needs to get someone you need.  It’s easy – it’s all in one place, right?

How do you organize your gear or race day bag?  I would love to see your ideas.

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here

 


Blog Series: Runner Safety | Travel Tips

If you have not had a chance, please check out my previous post in the

Runner Safety Blog Series:

Why I Don’t Post my Running Courses Online

Today, I am going to share with you some safety tips pre and during your traveling.  Within the excitement of traveling to and from a race, we can often forget that we still need to be diligent with our privacy and safety.

Don’t post your hotel information on social media. That includes no location tagging or obvious signs of where you are.  Just as not posting your training courses so people know where you live or work, etc – you don’t want people knowing where you are staying the next few days.  I will never forget my first-ever runcation.  It was the Surf City in 2012, I walked into my hotel lobby and there was a person arguing with the hotel desk about where is a certain person. They were demanding to know where they were and they had proof they were in that hotel (showed them a Facebook post).  Come to find out, the argumentative person was not a friend nor a relative of the person in question.  That was a game changer. I have never posted where I am staying on social media since that day.

Same as your hotel, don’t post your travel plans. Why does anyone need to know what your flight information is?

Always, always – complete the medical information on the back of the bib.  For emergency contact, I make sure it is someone at the race who can reach my family if needed.  While I could put my family on the bib, having someone nearby is much better in the event of an emergency.

Before you depart, make sure your family knows your hotel information and at least one other phone number they can find you if need.  Such as a running buddy, friend or your coach.  Sometimes cell phones don’t work, so a back up plan for the family to get in touch with you is wise.

It is never good to be paranoid, but one should also be mindful of your trip and keeping yourself safe.  Why spend your time worrying about safety when you should be focusing on the big race day!

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


*Guest Blog: 4 Tips For Staying Safe While Running in Vegas | Ladah Law Offices

In my next Runner Safety blog posts, I am pleased to share this wonderful & informative post from guest blogger, Ladah Law Firm, PLLC in Las Vegas.

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Four Tips For Staying Safe While Running In Vegas –

Running is a popular way to exercise without being confined to a gym. When you run through the streets of your city, you become familiar with the other people in your neighborhood and the shops and features that make it unique.

Choosing to exercise outside comes with its risks, though. Unlike a treadmill, the road outside it not always level. You also have to share it with other runners, bicyclists, cars, and other vehicles. These factors put you at a greater risk of being injured while running in downtown Vegas than the risk you face exercising indoors. But do not let this risk stop you from running outside. Below are four ways you can minimize your chance of suffering a severe injury.
1. Always be Aware of your Surroundings
Know where you will be running before you leave your home. Familiarize yourself with heavily congested areas, known hazards like blind curves and potholes, and areas where pedestrians are not permitted.

If you plan to run at night, carry a flashlight and use it to illuminate the road before you. This can help you see hazards before you reach them, helping you avoid injury.
2. Make yourself Visible
Always be visible to motorists, especially if you run at night. You can do this by wearing white or light-colored clothing with reflective material on each side of your body.

When you are stopped at a crosswalk, ensure that all motorists are aware of your presence before you proceed. Do this at yield signs and any other area on the road where you need to run in front of vehicles. Motorists are not always completely aware of their surroundings, especially in today’s age of smart phones.
3. Follow the Rules of the Road
When a pedestrian gets hit by a car, he or she can suffer a serious, even life-threatening, injury. Remember, you are not in a privileged position over the cars – you must share the road with them.

Run against the traffic, not with it. This will make you more visible to motorists. Always follow the same rules that they follow, such as stopping at stop signs and red lights.
4. Know What to Do if you are Injured
Even if you take all the safety precautions discussed above, there is still the chance that you will be involved in an accident with a car and suffer an injury. If this happens to you, knowing what to do in the moments and days after your accident can make a huge difference regarding your physical and financial recovery.

Take down every relevant detail of the accident you can. This includes photographs, testimonies, and contact information for other parties involved, like the driver and witnesses to the accident. Then, seek medical attention as soon as you can to ensure that you receive an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. After you have received medical care, consider working with a personal injury lawyer to file a claim to seek monetary compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and any other expenses related to the injury.

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Provided by Ramzy Ladah, Owner of Ladah Law Firm, PLLC


New Blog Series: Runner Safety |Why I Won’t Post My Running Courses

Hi FAB Friends!  It’s been awhile – actually a LONG while since I have blogged.  Thanks for your patience during my hiatus.

 

I am returning to blogging to highlight a topic that is very important to me.  Runner Safety.  We heard of so many stories of accidents, injuries and unfortunately murders.  As a runner, I have seen in my share of scary moments and I hope that what I can offer you will give you pointers on keeping you safe.

My biggest safety tip?  While may not be popular, I believe will be a necessary step for both men and women.

Stop posting your runs on social media or any mile tracking website or app like MapMyRun. Strava, DailyMile or more.  By posting where you run is giving anyone the information of where you started and where you finished.  If you are on the road, you will usually start your watch near your home, right?  Guess what?  You have told social media where you live.  Go the same 5 mile route every Wednesday?  Guess what?  You just told a would-be weirdo where you will be each Wednesday.  Looking at the generic image below, can you see how anyone can see a pattern of where you might live and where you run? 

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You can still log your miles without giving the details of your location.  If you want to post your pace, you can manually do that.

In 2012, I removed all the courses from my logging website because I had been met up by “surprise” by a few runners who were following me.  I had never met them and never knew who they were.  Did they cause me any physical harm?  No, but they certainly freaked me out by total strangers standing on the street corner waiting for me.

Secondly, I am told that a murder took place because the murderer followed his victim on a logging website and knew her pattern.

This is not a negotiable option for me, I have turned down sponsorships & ambassadorships because they require the team posts their works-outs.  I won’t tell anyone where I am running (except my immediate family of course) and I certainly don’t put it on social media.  You have given the world that option if you do post on social media and on the logging websites like MapMyRun, Strava and DailyMile.

Note:  I think the websites are a wonderful tool!  My opinion is not a reflection of their service, but of those who take advantage of that information and could potentially cause harm to someone else. 

Be safe, FAB Friends!

Next safety blog post:  Guest post from Ladah Law Firm, PLLC  of Las Vegas.

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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