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Helping out

Looking towards Avoca from Terrigal Haven at the start
of this morning's run.

It's not a running story, but yesterday, as I was driving along our road, I was flagged down by two women whose friend had collapsed in a small park and stopped breathing.  After making a "000" call, I was joined by some local workers in applying CPR until the ambulance arrived twenty minutes later and the patient was then slowly resuscitated before being transported to hospital.  Apparently it was a heroin overdose.

The incident got me to thinking about some of the times when I have been out running and was called on to help someone.  Like all runners, I am quite often stopped and asked for directions to some place or other by passing drivers.  They usually assume you are running close to home and have local knowledge, but more often than not, I'm on a long run and don't know much about the area other than the route I am running.  Maybe it's a product of age, but even in Copa I couldn't tell you the name of many streets I run down frequently.  I like to think I see the big picture, and don't worry too much about the details, but that doesn't help the navigationally challenged.

Looking towards Terrigal Haven from Avoca Beach during
this morning's run.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s I was often in the habit of running at 9:00pm or later in the Melbourne suburbs. It was cooler in summer, the traffic was lighter, and it fitted with other commitments including part-time study.  One night, I was running through a park on a poorly-lit and lonely gravel path when I came up behind someone walking along the same path.  In such situations, I usually try to make a bit of noise as I approach to avoid scaring the daylights out of unsuspecting pedestrians and that's what I did in this case.  The person heard me coming, turned and waved me to stop.  It turned out to be a young woman, who seemed quite scared and shaken.  She asked me to walk her home.  I think her fear was more a product of the darkness and her imagination, than any particular threat, but I did walk her the kilometre to her home and saw her safely inside before continuing my run.

Circling around Avoca Lagoon this morning, I met Fiona,
a fellow Trotter, who is also resuming running after illness.

On another occasion, in early 1981, I set out for an early second run one Saturday because we were attending the wedding of good friends later that afternoon.  Part of my route followed the banks of a small creek/drainage canal adjacent to a railway embankment, and I was startled to see the body of an old man lying in the shallow water.  I stopped and was relieved to find he was conscious, but very disoriented and unable to get up.  This was in the days before mobile phones, and I was reluctant to leave the man where he was and seek help.  It was a little-used path and nobody was about, so I concentrated on getting him out of the creek and making sure he was comfortable.  All this took about 30 minutes before I had him safe on dry land and confident enough that I could leave him alone while I went for help.  I then ran to the nearest houses I knew of, and after a couple of "no answers", found a woman home who agreed to call an ambulance while I returned to the man.  The ambulance personnel eventually reached us on foot and it took more time to check him out and then get him back to the ambulance for a trip to hospital.  I was two hours overdue by the time I returned home and my wife had left for the wedding without me.  I was not in the good books when I reached the wedding reception, having missed the church service.

The path bordering Avoca Lagoon this morning.

The only other occasion I can remember helping someone out, other than with directions, was on an early morning winter's run from my home in Darien, Connecticut, through neighbouring south Norwalk, which had a somewhat seedy reputation.  As I was running along one darkened street, I heard the crash of breaking glass up ahead of me, and a few metres further on, made out the shape of two guys in dark clothing breaking the driver's window on a second vehicle with a hammer.  They hadn't heard me coming and I stopped about 30 metres away in the darkness, hid between a couple of cars, and yelled "Hey!" as loudly as I could.  The guys jumped and scurried off into the darkness while I waited silently and motionless for a minute or two, before continuing my journey homewards at top speed.

Today's run wasn't nearly as interesting, but I was pleased to get around my regular Thursday morning 11km at a reasonable pace.  My legs and lower back have definitely loosened up this week and I'm moving faster and more efficiently with the same effort.