Friday, April 13, 2018

I Never Had a Security Team Protect Me On Adventure Runs

Over the past 12 years since I ran across America all alone, I've been asked many times (usually by people who find my website and want to try a similar run) what I carried to protect myself from either aggressive animals or people. When I ran solo across Germany (making stops along the way at K-12 U.S. Department of Defense schools on military bases to give presentations), I was asked by one concerned person if I would have a security team traveling with me! Humorously, there actually exists a protection company named "Staso Protect" (no relation!). However, I never had my own security team while running across states and countries. What did I have for protection as I did my adventure runs? Pepper spray and a 2½-foot hickory axe handle -- no axe head, just the handle!

There have certainly been those who have run across the United States with support teams -- with some team members' roles being to protect the runner. Usually, these are high-profile crossings aiming to break a record or being done by a well known ultra-endurance athlete. My mega-mileage border-to-border and ocean-to-ocean runs all alone were not for records and were not highly publicized. I never used my pepper spray and actually only used my hickory axe handle once, and that was during my 500-mile run through Alaska when a wild, highly-aggressive, large dog seemed determine to have one of my legs for lunch. I never 'hit' the dog with the handle, but did have to push him away with it as his sharp teeth kept lunging at me.

I never carried any other protection with me on my adventure runs. I can tell you that there once was a time when the support stroller I pushed truly protected me. During my run across America I was suddenly engulfed in a storm while in the Great Plains that began to drop quarter-size hail. I had no place to take shelter and there were no cars in the area. As the painful hail started to impact me, the only idea I had was to lay the support stroller on top of my body to protect me. I flipped the stroller over and slid under it, listening to the hail pound against the frame of the stroller. I stayed curled up under the stroller until the hail subsided, and then crawled out -- thankful that I was able to keep from being injured. Aside from that, there were some occasions when the support stroller acted as a 'buffer' between me and dogs. So, my only sources of "protection" that accompanied me were pepper spray, an axe handle, and the support stroller.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso