FOOT NOTES: Stop asking female runners to solve a male problem

Chambersburg runner Laurie Dymond charges to the finish line at the Harrisburg Half Marathon. Dymond finished as the top female in 1:30:37. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLAY SHAW.

I can run on the trails. I can run at night. I can run downtown. I can run on vacation. I can run on a whim. I can run anywhere I want, by myself, without fear or distraction.

I wish I could say the same about my own wife and daughter, and women everywhere. But as we learned, once again sadly, with the abduction and murder of runner Eliza Fletcher in Memphis, Tenn., women are still living their lives as targets.

The running community came together to “finish” Eliza’s run, which was heartwarming, but it only softens the blow of the reality of what happened. Of what continues to happen. 

How do we fix this? Almost every solution I’ve read involves ways for women to be “ready” in the case of an attack: Run with a friend, go in the daylight, carry pepper spray, don’t run in that outfit, stay away from that neighborhood, don’t run at the same time every day.

It’s exhausting and it’s unfair, and it breaks my heart that we have to continue to ask women to accomodate and provide solutions for a MEN’s problem.

Maybe it’s wrong for me to call out all men, but it’s also wrong that one in three women have experienced physical or sexual abuse in their life. One in three. 

There are at least three ways for men to dig out of this hole.

The first is for us — all of us — to take a good, hard look within and think about the way we conduct ourselves in public. It’s not OK to make cat calls or throw out pickup lines to a woman running, nor is it cool to drive by slowly to get a “better look.” This is very common sense stuff, but you also need to be aware of how your actions as a runner, however subtle, can be perceived. When you see a female running on your route, the simplest decision to give her space or take a detour can save a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

The second thing men need to do is to call out the behavior of our peers. We all know men who, as my would son would say, are “cringe” or “sus(picious)” and sometimes those men are in our very own families. If you just watch your friend talk down to his wife, let your buddy take home that “wasted” woman from the bar, or nod along as your co-worker objectifies every female on the job, your inaction is enabling the problem to not only continue, but flourish. Call them out. Make them feel embarrassed for the way they are acting.

Finally, the last thing we as men need to do is to teach our children to be respectful of each other and for them to understand boundaries. Perhaps most importantly, we need our kids to be clear that no means no, especially when it comes to our bodies and personal space. 

I’m begging you, guys, please don’t shrug this off. Do your part. Women can’t be expected to handle this alone. 

This world can be a safer place for women, but it all starts with the man in the mirror.


Laurie Dymond didn’t come into the Harrisburg Half Marathon looking to win or make history, the 56-year-old Chambersburg runner just wanted to reach her goal of maintaining a sub-7 pace for 13.1 miles.

Dymond achieved what she set out to do, and so much more, in Sunday morning’s rain-soaked race, clocking a 1:30:37 to finish as the top female. There are a handful of gaps in the results history for the 21-year race, but from what we have been able to uncover, there’s good reason to believe that Dymond is the oldest participant to win the Harrisburg Half. The closest winner in age we could find was last year’s top female, Emily Shertzer, who won at 41.

“Remember, do what makes you happy and set your own goals, everything else is just noise,” Dymond said on her Facebook page after the race. “And remember, age is just a number to keep you in your place.”

While Dymond shined the brightest, a number of other locals made their mark at in Harrisburg, including Fayetteville’s Abigail Zychal (1:50:12) and Amanda Kaiser-Jones (2:28:15), Chambersburg’s Gavin Martin (1:58:53), and Waynesboro’s James Clapsaddle (2:31:29) and Scott Smith (2:31:29). The companion race Harrisburg 10K featured strong finishes from Chambersburg’s Danielle Richmond (55:42) and Rachel Lilley (57:03).

Perhaps the man that most understands Dymond’s “age is just a number” mantra is Greencastle runner John Economos, who is nearly 15 years her senior. The 70-year-old Economos broke out a 29:39 at the Kentlands/Lakelands 5K in Gaithersburg, Md. to take third place in the 70+ age group.

From the roads to the trails, scenic and challenging technical courses were the name of the game for a number of Local.News runners. We’ll start in Jim Thorpe where Waynesboro’s Joshua McAllister took on the Boulder Field 50K, a race whose course looks exactly like the name suggests. McAllister leaped and bounded his way to a race finish in 7:43:26. In Millersburg, Greencastle runner Christopher Bowman earned his post-race beer at the Troegs Rugged Trail Run for Conservation 5K, clocking a 30:50 to win the 20-29 AG. The Bull Dam Trail Run 10K in North East saw Waynesboro’s Megan Brace finish in 2:09:21.

A number of other area runners were involved in races across the region, including Waynesboro’s Jeffrey Hein (2:09:25 at Lock 2 Lock Half Marathon), Greencastle’s Matthew Smith (1:47:36 at Luray Half Marathon), Smithsburg’s Jonah Smith (4:36 at Market Street Mile), and Chambersburg’s Olivia Colli (29:11 at Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler), Carrie Svoboda (2:35:20 at Charles Street 12), Mark Ward (2:10:04 at Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon), Craig Leisher (54:47 at Lock 2 Lock 10K), Sara Koontz (3:00:08 at Patriots Olympic Triathlon), Cody Forrester (25:06 at Bottle & Cork 5K), and Katie Boryan (2:17:26 at Bozeman Half Marathon).

Chambersburg Laurie Dymond smiles for the camera after winning the Harrisburg Half Marathon. Dymond, 56, finished the race in 1:30:37. She is believed to be the oldest winner in the race’s history. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLAY SHAW.

And now, a look ahead:

Blood, Sweat & Tears 5 Miler: Saturday, Sept. 24, 9 a.m., in Mt. Gretna. Take on this race, which benefits the Emily Whitehead Foundation and will be run in honor of Mike McCauley, an ultramarathoner who was devoted to raising awareness and funding for pediatric cancer. There are race options for three, five, and 10 miles. Learn more at

York White Rose Run 5 Miler: Saturday, Sept. 24, 8 a.m., in York. Running since 1977, the White Rose Run has been known to attract elite runners, including Olympic Games participants from 11 different countries. Register for the race on

Ironmasters Challenge 50K: Sunday, Sept. 25, 7:30 a.m., in Gardners. The Ironmasters Challenge includes a 15K option and is guaranteed to challenge any runner that dares to take it on. Learn more at

Also: 5K Run for Recovery (Saturday, in Lancaster); Beware of Barracuda Triathlon (Saturday, in Hazleton); Clinic for Special Children 5K (Saturday, in Strasburg); PB Festival Half Marathon (Saturday, in New Bethlehem); Hershey Miracle 5K (Saturday, in Harrisburg); Morning Shooting Star 5K (Saturday, in Harrisburg); Pretzel Twist Race 5K (Saturday, in Lititz); Rock ‘N The Knob Trail Run Marathon (Saturday, in Claysburg); Totally 80s East Pete 5K (Saturday, in East Petersburg); Boston Harvest Half Marathon (Sunday, in Boston); Forever Friends Memorial Run 5K (Sunday, in Myerstown); Philadelphia Distance Run 13.1 (Sunday, in Philadelphia); Race for Their Lives 5K (Sunday, in Lewisberry); Superhero Samaritans 5K (Sunday, in York); The Dam Half (Sunday, in Mifflinburg); ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk 5K (Friday, Sept. 23, in Harrisburg); Lock Haven Boulder Beast (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Lock Haven); Goose Day 5K (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Lewistown); Hands-on House Race Half Marathon (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Lancaster); Harrisburg 5K Run/Walk for PTSD Awareness 5K (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Harrisburg); Lancaster Junction Trail 5K/10K (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Manheim); Lovin’ Life 5K (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Reading); March for the Fallen (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Ft. Indiantown Gap); Running Over Addiction Half Marathon (Saturday, Sept. 24, in South Williamsport); Shank Park 5K/10K (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Hummelstown); Tough Mudder Pittsburgh (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Slippery Rock); Trails 4 Tails 40 Miler (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Hanover); Water Gap 50K (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Water Gap); World’s End Fall Classic (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Forksville); YMCA Autumn Dash 5K (Saturday, Sept. 24, in Shrewsbury); Conestoga Trail Run 10 Miler (Sunday, Sept. 25, in Holtwood).

Foot Notes is a self-syndicated column by Central Pa. sportswriter Andy Sandrik that has been “running” since 2016. Andy always follows back on Strava and can be reached by email at [email protected].

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