Running Through Sacramento in the Dark
By Amy Thoma
I know that as a single female I’m not supposed to run by myself in the dark. Really, I know. Especially not through the sinister grid that is midtown and east Sacramento. But this time of year there is little choice for the serious runner—if I’m up early, it’s dark. If I run after work, it’s dark. And sometimes my evil training schedule calls for both. So don’t tell my mom, boss or friends but here’s the deal—I run in the dark all the time.
Some suggestions to keep you safe and running…
1. If you can handle running in circles like a hamster, McKinley Park is decently lit and there are people there all the time. I’ve run there as early as 4:30 and as late as 9pm and never been alone. It’s super boring, but it’s 1 mile around and gets the job done if you get the heebie jeebies.
2. Land Park is creepy in the dark. I don’t run there—it’s too big. Also, stay away from the American River Parkway and the levee off of Sutterville. I’ve run all those places in the dark and it didn’t feel safe.
3. Running through Midtown and East Sac is actually a good option—there are delivery trucks and public transportation running which means it’s likely you’re not alone.
4. Another great route option is to begin at McKinley, do a lap, run to Big Spoon on 36th and J, turn left at M Street and make your way through the Fab 40s and back. Well-lit, pretty, wide, drinking fountains… what more can you ask for?
5. Find a friend to run with. If you don’t have any running friends, Fleet Feet has organized runs on Tuesday nights at 5:30. Running with people is really fun, a great way to get faster and also happens to be safe.
6. This is dorky, but a headlamp or flashlight will save you many spills. I have a tiny Mag Light (2 AA battery sized) from Target and a Petzl headlamp from REI.
7. Take your iPod off or keep it really, really low. You need to hear cars, animals and scary folks at all times, but especially in the dark.
8. I have pepper spray that clips on my shorts I got at Fleet Feet. They also have reflective clothing (I’m all about being safe but oh hell no am I wearing a reflective vest!) and blinking lights you can attach to your clothes.
9. If you get in good enough shape you can probably out run the bad guys. I’m banking on that!