I was out running on the open road when I was hit by an oncoming car.
Somehow I’m still alive and mostly unscathed. This is what happened…
When you run a route often enough it becomes yours. You consider it ‘your’ route.
I’ve run the ‘my’ route just about 150 times now. I’ve run it in the burning sunshine,
in the howling wind (often) and in the pouring rain. I’ve even run it in a lightning storm (not fun).
My run goes from Melkbosstrand on the west coast – in an out-and-back loop that ranges anything from 8 to 30km in pretty much one straight highway circuit. I love it for its seeming endlessness and its magnificent view of the sea and table mountain.
But for the first time ever I got seriously scared by ‘my’ run.
I’ve always understood that one has to be careful when sharing a road with great big
hunking chunks of steel hurtling along at rapid speed. I wear highly visible clothing
and run into oncoming traffic as advised. I keep my head up and I’m
generally alert when I run. I mostly run on the side of the road inside the yellow line and I’ve accepted that there was some risk to that.
If I see a truck bus, or car that seems to riding a little close to the yellow line,
I will generally hop out onto the as-yet-uncompleted cycling track or onto the dirt
path that runs next to the road.
Heck, I even clear out of the way of cyclists riding along the yellow lines so that
they don’t have to push out into the traffic (not that they ever thank you for this curtesy – but that’s another story).
But this time, this time there was no warning. There was just me, running, happy, in the groove, actually on track for a small PR when suddenly my brain just registered one of the oncoming cars looming uncomfortably large and fast.
In my space. Error. Alert. This is wrong.
I think I managed to veer every so slightly out of the way, I can’t exactly remember as my brain was flooded with adrenalin and was processing (in no particular order, or possibly, simultaneously) the following….
Bits of fender and plastic shattering and flying into the air.
The side mirror of the car being shattered.
A massive impact on my left leg.
I’m going to be hit.
I AM hit.
I’m going to die
I’m not dead.
Its my leg. That was massive. It must be gone.
My leg is broken. Has to be. You don’t get hit that hard and don’t break your leg.
The driver is stopping.
I haven’t even fallen over.
Their car is seriously damaged.
The bumper has come off
I’d better look at my leg.
It looks ok. What the hell.
There goes my PR. Better stop the stopwatch on my phone.
Couple of people are stopping now. Well what do you expect with all those bits of car flying everywhere.
Aaah dammit. This actually hurts now. Maybe its broken but the bone’s just not sticking out.
Nope. I’m still standing on it. Wouldn’t be able to do that if It was broken.
What followed was the driver of the car being all very apologetic, bystanders offering to help, and me assuring them that i was fine. I was given a lift home and there I ended up – literally dazed and confused.
And now, 2 days later as I type this I shudder to think how close I came to death. I still have no idea how so much damage was done to the car and so little to me. I realize that I can’t anticipate a last-minute swerve from a driver. Even if everything looks fine up ahead. And that freaks me out. Thankfully they are building a track alongside the highway now and once its ready I’ll be using that.
But for now, all I can say to other runners who share a highway, or busy road. If you think you’re being vigilant enough, be more so. Its not just the cars you haven’t checked out yet that can be a threat. Sometimes its the car who’s trajectory you thought you’d anticipated, the one that looks safe that can do something unexpected.
From now on I’m erring on the side of caution. Until there’s a dedicated track for me I’m lowering my threat threshold and jumping off-road whenever I feel even a hint of danger.