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Canadian Bakin’

Posted Dec 08 2009 9:32am
The Prince George Citizen has hosted an escalating foofaraw for the past few weeks. It began with this paragraph in a letter to the editor from one J. Kennedy on November 20:

Last of all, to all you highly-motivated runners, while I admire your running in all types of weather, please don’t run down the road inthe driver’s lane. Many times I have seen the runners do this with no reflective clothing on. I have seen by your looks that you feel it’s your right to do this, but we have a brand new running track at UNBC, please use that so we don’t hit you and ruin, not only your day and mine, but our family’s. Please use some common sense, this world is not just about you.

This, inevitably, prompted a response on November 27 by Gregg Kauk:

J. Kennedy, I’m sorry you were compelled to write your first letter to the editor – really – since it was filled with sanctimonious and uninformed tripe the likes of which doesn’t belong in print.

As a runner, am I to understand that since you are incapable of practicing due care and attention while driving that I and all the other members of the large running community in Prince George should be relegated and limited to the 280 meter track at the Northern Sport Centre once the snow flies? I am training for a half ironman this summer and regularly run for two hours at a time. If you expect that I will spend that entire training running in circles, you’re the one who needs to exercise some common sense.

If you are receiving “looks” from runners as you drive by, I suspect that you are driving too close and passing at a higher rate of speed than you should when going by an unprotected pedestrian in your two tonne automobile. Try changing lanes earlier if there is no opposing traffic, or stop and wait the 15 seconds it takes for the runner to pass. It will be a lot safer. If you think hitting a pedestrian will simply “ruin your day”, you really shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

If you truly wish to save time, instead of trying to impose your will upon others, why not resist the urge to write in the first place. I, for one, won’t miss reading your point of view.

This, of course, led to a counter-response from Henry Righi on December 1:

I agree with J. Kennedy, as I am also one of the drivers that get upset when one of the “large group” of ignorant runners use a main thoroughfare that was built for vehicles. A runner is not a vehicle, so get used to the honking horns and people driving close to you. A person who down the driving lane of a four-lane street is either dense or has a death wish.

Perhaps you should do your training on side streets or the sport centre as J. Kennedy suggested, or you might not make it to the half marathon.

To which we heard from Norman Dale on December 4:

I am not and have never been a jogger and, on he other hand am a driver lots, taxi-ing my kids among their various extracurricular venues. This said, I must comment on the recent invectives against runners using roads, main or otherwise, paid for by the taxes of all Prince Georgians, not just those who just sit behind the wheel. It was interesting to read in J. Kennedy’s original letter the admission of being one of those frequent idlers in drive-through lines, patient enough to park one’s derriere in the car or truck, spewing greenhouse gases while waiting for that precious fix of caffeine and carbs. But there was no such patience for a mother jogging with her children. To me, that’s a rather odd ordering of what is and what is not worth waiting for. Get your brats off the road, lady, I gotta line up at Timmie’s!

Then along comes Henry Righi in avid support of J. Kennedy, but this time in a rather more threatening manner. Having discoursed on the obvious fact that runners are not vehicles but erred legally in his assertion that, as a result, they have no right to be on the road – if the sidewalks are not clear people on foot have no other choice and as pedestrians do have the right of way – Mr. Righi darkly warns joggers to take side-roads or they, “may not make it to the next half marathon.” Now that this is nicely in print, Mr. Righi may be well advised to be especially courteous and careful with joggers, politely yielding to rather than colliding with them lest his published statement be seen as malice aforethought.

I’m waiting for more letters in this vein, though for the time being I must be content with the comments section of the paper, in which “Batman” on December 5 wrote:

We must be doing well if all we can write about is joggers and racquet courts. Next issue please.

Alas, even this couldn’t go unremarked upon, as “One Happy Camper” felt compelled to reply:

Don’t like it, don’t read it ya goof!

I’m not sure why there’s so much rancor up north, but the -21C temperatures may be to blame.


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