Exercise / running

News of the Odd: Top 5 Strangest Running Stories of 2013

Photo taken by Amanda ZaleskiDisclosure: This is a non-scientific, decidedly un-research-like post. I unexpectedly stumbled upon this recent article about a woman who was hit by an airborne deer while running. As Mary Pat Flaherty of the Washington Post writes, “Krystine Rivera had a bad day at work Thursday and was waffling over whether to head out for a seven-mile run. She decided to go for it. And then her day, as she says, “got astronomically worse.” ” Rivera was in mile 5 of a 7 mile run when a buck, hit by a passing SUV, sailed through the air and landed on Rivera. The driver of the SUV was uninjured, and Rivera escaped with scrapes, bruises, and a concussion…and one great story for the holiday party circuit.

After reading this compelling news report, I immediately wondered: What other weird running-related stories are out there?  What kind of odd things happened to runners in 2013? Well, as you can imagine, one thing led to another, and hence I bring you: THE TOP FIVE STRANGEST RUNNING STORIES OF 2013. And as a holiday bonus, if you can’t get enough of this content area, I direct you to an entire blog (the source of many of these stories) dedicated to the topic.

1. In Northhampton, PA, an 18-year-old woman was cited for throwing a dangerous projectile from the window of her SUV at a jogger. What was the object? An air freshener. Luckily, the runner wasn’t hurt, just “alarmed.”

2. At the Dublin City Marathon in Ireland, a mysterious runner named “H. O’Neill” was in the lead up until mile 20 of the race, when he suddenly disappeared from online tracking. Moreover, none of the runners in the lead pack reported seeing this phantom racer. Subsequent research determined that the actual participant, Henry O’Neill, was at home on his couch during the marathon, having decided to withdraw from the event due to injury. So who was the ghost runner? Race organizers had evidently brought O’Neill’s race number and chip to the start line, thinking the elite runner might show up at the last minute. When he didn’t, the material was loaded onto the press truck, where it proceeded to traverse the course, slightly ahead of the lead runners, up until mile 20. Hence, H. O’Neill’s brief saga as the Galloping Ghost of First Place.

3. Two sisters, separated as infants, reunited at a high school track meet when the team members of one sister noticed that another runner looked suspiciously similar to their team member. Talk about track being a sport of timing!

4. There are many stories of runners being attacked by wildlife in 2013 (unusual suspects include horses and kangaroos) but this story of a runner being ambushed by an owl is notable for the lurid detail contained in the news report: “First there was a thump, then a thud as the early-morning mugger took off with Cathie Dias’ hat as she jogged through Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, B.C. He didn’t give a hoot that he was seen by her friends and, as the shaken runners came around the loop for the second time, he repeated the attack, this time whacking two of them on the head….Dias let out a “blood-curdling scream” as the owl pounced, but her friends thought she was complaining about the workout.” That must have been SOME workout!

5. A man and his daughter running to catch the school bus in Anchorage, AK, drew a police response of 20 cars when an eyewitness reported a man “yelling and chasing” after a girl. This report joins an extensive history of “mistaken identity” issues facing runners, including this charity runner in a gorilla costume who was wrongly identified by a passing motorist calling the police to report an escaped ape on the loose. Moreover, according to the police blotter in Flathead County on January 6, 2013, at 10:06 am, “Someone complained that a transient was lurking around near the community college. The transient was actually a jogger who had stopped to stretch.” Of course, further incidents that day included:

  • 4:48 p.m. Someone called 911 to report that a vehicle covered in inflated condoms was driving in a reckless fashion down Highway 2 East in Evergreen.
  • 6:13 p.m. Someone driving through the Columbia Falls area unintentionally ran over a sheep.
  • 9:08 p.m. Reportedly, a man with a scraggly beard was spotted three times in the past two days by a Somers Road resident.
  • 10:24 p.m. A Hungry Horse man reported that he could not physically detach his drunken girlfriend from himself.  

Therefore, it is entirely possible that Flathead County is just an unlawful territory, both for runners and non-runners.

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