Female athletes harassed when training outdoors

Jane McGuire
·2-min read
Photo credit: British Athletics - Handout - Getty Images
Photo credit: British Athletics - Handout - Getty Images

From Runner's World

  • Welsh Athletics have confirmed they are working with South Wales Police after a number of female athletes have reported experiencing harassment when training.

  • Lockdown restrictions in Wales eased last week, allowing people to run with one person from outside their household.

During the coronavirus lockdown in Wales, only individuals classified as 'elite' are allowed to travel to and train at designated facilities. This means athletes who represent Wales at a high level are training at home and on the streets, like thousands of other runners.

Yet after a number of female athletes have reported being catcalled and harassed while training, leading to Welsh Athletics to contact South Wales Police.

Speaking to BBC News, former Wales 400m champion Rhiannon Linington-Payne said, 'I've had inappropriate comments about my figure, wolf-whistling, cars slowing down to stare... I've even had a beer can thrown at me. The more it happens, the more it wears away at you'.

Team GB and Wales Sprinter Hannah Brier said, 'It's actually quite ironic... I'm not allowed on the track for safety reasons, but I don't feel safe where I'm training now.' After a particular incident in the summer left her feeling intimidated, as a man drove up and down the street watching her, Brier said she chooses 'outfits that I think are not as flashy, not as revealing' before going out to train.

It goes without saying that female harassment is not just an elite problem. In 2017, we published a feature about Running while Female, which detailed the high levels of harassment experienced by women runners - 46% of female runners in the UK reporting that they had been harassed while running.

With the numbers of runners on the rise and with gyms and training facilities shut due to the Covid-19 lockdown, we've decided to revisit the issue. We’re looking for runners to share their experiences with us, so we can learn how widespread the problem is, raise awareness and, ultimately, help to effect change. If you would like to be part of this, please take our Runner Alliance survey, in which we'll ask you questions about your general running habits and whether you’ve been subject to any form of harassment while you run. Your responses are anonymous and your privacy is very important to us.

Take the survey here

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