Female runners need better protection from disrespectful men during races, claims British athlete

Phoebe Southworth
Long-distance runner Lily Partridge revealed that she and other women were

Female marathon runners should be given better protection to stop men disrespecting them during races, a British athlete has claimed.

Long-distance competitor Lily Partridge, from Surrey, revealed that she and other women were "violently pushed around" during a half marathon last month, causing some to suffer "heavy falls".

Ms Partridge also said she was forced to confront a male runner who followed her "intimately close" while she was recently out on a trail path.

The 28-year-old shared her unpleasant experiences with her Instagram followers, calling for competitors to be more "respectful" and women to be given their own designated space on the start line.

In a caption of a picture of her training, she wrote that she was "happily bumbling" along when she overtook the male runner 30-40 yards ahead of her.

She said he then began following her at an unnerving distance.

"I realised he was running really close and I mean close - intimately close. Not creepy, I wasn't scared or intimidated, happy to share the path, but a bit 'you ok mate?'," wrote Ms Partridge.

"It seemed off and I felt I was being tracked so I moved across the path and he followed, so I did it again and again he followed me. This continued for a few minutes."

She said she "tried to make it obvious" that she wasn't comfortable with his behaviour, but ended up confronting him.

"I turned round and asked what the hell he was playing at," wrote Ms Partridge.

Seemingly unaware of the stress he had caused her, the runner responded "good pace, good pace" as if she was his own "unofficial 5ft 3in windbreak".

Reflecting on her other bad experience at a half marathon, where she said she was jostled on the start line, she wrote: "All I ask is that male runners be an ally to women and let this sport be a safe and happy space for everyone.

"I'm happy to spar with you in races/training, push each other to great performances and shake your hand at the finish, but this isn't ok. Please be respectful."

She added: "I hope it is sorted next time and the elite women are given a designated space on the start line."

Ms Partridge's observations chimed with her fellow runners, who rushed to show their support.

One of her followers commented: "I was in the elite start of Leeds Abbey last month and the treatment by the males trying to get by for a start space was the worst I'd ever experienced. It really shocked and worried me."

Another said: "Really weird people out there."

Half marathons are road-based races covering a distance of around 13 miles, which usually take a few hours to complete.

Male and female participants line up together at the start line and their times begin when the gun is fired.