THE BLOG

As a Runner, Can I Trust You to Drive Safely?

01/17/2014 12:26 EST | Updated 03/19/2014 05:59 EDT

Meg Menzies was one of us. A tweet informed me of her death a day after it happened. A few searches later, I gleaned the quick facts and as I read, my heart sank. Marathoner. Morning run. Drunk driver.

She could have been any of us. A 4:07 first-time marathoner a decade ago. A 3:05 marathoner in 2011. A Boston marathoner in 2012.

She was taken away from us doing what she loved. And it's a damn shame.

***

Sometimes what separates me and the driver staring back at me is my right hand, pointing. It's a trick I learned a long time ago, a test of trust between runner and driver. Often, going with the green or white walking-man signal, I'll slow my pace slightly, raise my arm, and point.

A connection between a 138-pound runner with a flimsy few layers of gear and the driver, encased in steel, glass and rubber, tonnes of it. I somehow believe that if I point, I'm making a connection, drawing our eyes together, as if to say, "Hi, I see you -- you see me, lets get on with this, I'm running, you're waiting."

There are moments of fear, when I realize that the said driver doesn't have his or her hands hugging the wheel. I know that look, accompanied by the glance down at their smartphones. That finger pointed could easy turn into a lecturing tsk-tsk wave.

The winter takes me out of the waterfront trail and on to the city streets. The short days put me in darkness, hoping that the glow of my Garmin, the blinking red LEDs on my shoulder and my silver-coloured gear is just enough to catch the attention.

***

Meg was one of us, so even though she was from Virginia and we're up here in Canada, there are no borders, no citizenship needed to be embraced or adopted into this running family.

The fears we have for safety, the close calls we've all endured and the scorn we often face in the forms of a honked horn, yells or a steering wheel pushed in our direction puts this tragedy into focus. It could have been any of us.

Non-runners don't really get us. They don't understand why we run. They don't understand our passion.

But there exists a code, a code that says when you join the ranks, you join a family. And a family comes together in times of crisis. Like when Emma passed, a fellow runner came to her aid, and she was in all our thoughts (and continues to be when I pass the point where she died).

Or when we lost Danny, that hero with so much promise he was jogged into his resting place where many runners now pause to pay their respects.

Or when the bombs hit Boston, we felt no other urge but to run faster, run again to Hopkinton, run the very next day to show our defiance -- and strength and support for this community. This family.

As of this writing, 64,000 runners are going to run a few miles for Meg on Saturday under #megsmiles, bringing awareness to runner safety and to honour her memory. That would make it a bigger field than the biggest marathon, larger than Chicago, Boston or New York. Like in big races, when solitary miles get checked into the corrals and we emerge as one, we'll come together. For Meg. Because she is a runner, one of our own.

Kenny Yum is the managing editor of HuffPost Canada and a 26-time marathon runner. He blogs on running at A Whole Lot Of Soles, where this was originally posted.

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