Advice From the Pros: Running Safely on Westport’s Roads


Eliza Yass, Web Opinions Editor

Westport is a town where the windy, tree-lined roads are seldom free of colorfully clad, sweat-drenched runners. Many students seem to run, but two groups lead the pack: the Staples track team and the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

Not many teams run on the roads for conditioning. Most resort to the track or treadmill, but these two teams take to the streets with energy and caution.

Camilla Broccolo ’14, member of the girls’ cross-country team, feels that running outside provides benefits that running inside cannot.

“I’m inside all day, and running outside is just a breath of fresh air,” Broccolo said. “It gives me time to think.”

She explains that running outdoors lets her feel liberated and calm after a long day of schoolwork.

Training outside is important for sports like cross-country because the races are outside. The team must be prepared for different weather conditions like wind and humidity. Many believe that running inside or on a treadmill does not provide the same effect.

Greg Fisher ’15, also a member of the track team, prefers running outside for another reason.

“Running inside is extremely tedious and boring,” Fisher said.

While running inside the field house is, indeed, an option for Staples track members, Saugatuck Rowing Club does not provide this option. With over 250 members and only 10 treadmills at its Riverside facility in Saugatuck, running outside is necessary.

According to Sharon Kriz, Junior Rowing Director and Head Coach of the Competitive Junior Boys Rowing Team, the Rowing Club sends its teams out in groups.

Group running is a bit different from running solo in that the group must work as a unit. The track team accomplishes this by assigning an upperclassman to be the “point.” The “point” looks out for traffic and notifies the group when a car is coming its way.

There is no “point” to notify unaccompanied runners, so for anyone who wishes to take on the streets of Westport, remember to be careful.

According to RoadID, a company that creates “identification gear” to wear while out on the roads, over 122,00 runners, walkers and cyclists are hit by cars each year. Staples track coach Laddie Lawrence knows all of the tips and tricks about running on the street.

“Always make eye contact with the drivers,” Lawrence said.

According to Lawrence, by looking directly at the driver before crossing a street, the message will be clear as to whose turn it is to go. After a clear signal has been made, the runner should proceed to cross the street. It is also important to cross the street before approaching a blind turn.

Both Kriz and Lawrence recommend running against traffic so cars will be seen head-on.

Ian Teran ’13, an experienced runner on the track team, he offers this advice: “Stay alert. You never know what can happen and you have no control over drivers.”

Kriz recommends keeping a form of identification handy. This is necessary because if a runner ever is hurt, police and emergency medical technicians need to be able to know specific important information about him or her and who to contact. Also, Kriz said that the brightest, most obnoxious running attire should be worn so that cars are too stunned to move. Music is also a big no-no in her book.

“If you put headphones in, you may not hear cars. No music,” Kriz said.

Anybody can join the Westport movement of runners and most can join the track or rowing team. Just keep Lawrence’s words in mind.

“No matter how safe you can be, or you think you can be out there; you have to anticipate the unexpected,” he said. “For everything you do to be safe, you have to be that much more vigilant of the unexpected.”