Almost had a dynamic critical incident the other day

As I was going for a run through on the lovely Sioux Falls river trail the other day, I had a random encounter with a bum. From 5 yards away and down-wind, I could smell the booze on him. He made aggressive eye contact with me as I ran past, so I immediately went into condition black, drew my Bren Ten from Hill People Gear Chest bag, and blasted him out of his socks.

No, of course not. I just kept running. I also would never wear one of those chest bags, because it’s somehow even dorkier than wearing a fanny pack. Seriously, have you seen these? It’s like a giant, ugly fanny pack that you wear across your chest. It should come with a sticker that says “virginity protector.”

hill people gear chest bag

But back to the actual incident, I kept running past the drunken bum. My usual route is an out-and-back, so I return along the same path and I see the guy getting aggressive with three older dudes sitting on a park bench. As I get closer, the aggressive stuff turns into shoving, which escalates into a kind of slapfight/shoving/maybe punching match. I didn’t stick around to see the results, because I have no desire to get involved in someone else’s fight. My escape and evasion plan of “keep running” worked pretty well, though.

Now, while this kind of a humorous article, the topic of self-defense while running is a serious one. My standard plan is “since I’m running, I think I’ll just run faster.” I don’t ever run with headphones in, because I actually like to experience my environment when I’m out on the trails. I’ve never really found an acceptable carry solution for running – belly bands move around too much, fanny packs are fanny packs, and I’ve made my feelings about that chest bag pretty plain (I should note, I think it’s actually a great product, it’s just a little too dorky to wear while running. Hiking around in the woods? Sure). But my self-defense plan for when I’m running is pretty simple: I don’t run at night, and I don’t run in shady places. Yes, I know that no man knows the day or hour when the balloon will go up while they see the elephant, but I reckon I can minimize my chances by not going to places where that sort of thing happens. It’s why I run in the nice park, and not in Van Epps Park, aka Stabbing Time Station.

That’s the most effective self-defense tool of them all. Don’t go to stupid places at stupid times, and even if you’re in a nice place, keep your head up. Stay alert. Don’t be afraid to cross the street to get away from shady mofos.


  1. There are limitations to your approach. You assume that 1. A safe area exists in your neighborhood. 2 your work schedule and the weather cooperate to allow day time running. (Try that in Phoenix). And finally that problems can not commute to “nice” areas and work a day shift. I the in a nice area and we still have homicides and rapes along our popular and “safe” canal banks.

    1. You could always just run on a treadmill. It’s awful, and I hate the ‘mill but it’s an option if you live in Somalia or something.

  2. Since you are running “away” from the “not your fight” anyway, you could throw a hearty “Hey! What’s going on!” or “Hey! Knock that off!” as you pass. Hell, even a “Hey! How’s it going!”

    Just knowing they are observed and noted deters a lot of (potential) criminal acts. At the least it breaks the concentration of the aggressor.

    You don’t have to stop and get involved to have a positive influence on a situation.

      1. But who carries that kind of cash while running?

        I was being serious. There is a lot of space between “not getting involved” and “not doing anything at all.” You let negative stuff pass all the time in public and it just increases over time and you run out of pleasant public spaces, you take minor, effectively safe, action and you nip it in the bud.

        1. I always carry 25 one-ounce silver bars in my chest rig when running. I keep them around in case everything goes Mad Max while I’m out running and I need something to trade for canned wheat, but I guess it could work for SHTFGambling, too.

        2. As you run past: “Stop being a douche… you douche”
          Bad guy responds: “Yeah you better run!”
          Sit Rep… nothing changed and you look like a pussy

          1. You actually care what bums think of you? I stopped letting the opinions of people I don’t know, and/or consider douchebags, control my reactions and feelings a long time ago.

            A *self-confident* person can only be insulted, as in be hurt or affected by mere words, by someone to whom they grant equivalent status. Otherwise it’s like a little dog yapping at a big dog; you ignore it until they actually try to bite.

            And the situation *has* changed, you’ve broken his attention and his self-escalation process, at least for a moment. You make him aware that they are not invisible and anonymous and introduce the idea that a response from authorities *might* be on the way.

            At the least gives the potential victim an opening to escape, respond, or deescalate without putting you at any likely real risk.

  3. Did you follow up to see if there was a police report about an attack taking place, same day, place and time?

      1. That’s right, I forgot, it’s now longer the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, it’s the Age of ME . . . .

        1. I actually get where you’re coming from, but I can’t manage to get worked up about the potential results of a hobo slap-fight.

          1. Caleb,

            I read the “three older dudes” as grandpas out for a walk and resting, not “older hobos on a bench.”

            Still, I’m not a “just do nothing” kind of guy. Again, big difference between “concerned citizen” and “Judge Dredd.”

          2. I would put their ages at late 50s early 60s, and they’re pretty far from defenseless. I see them in the park all the time, always on that same bench, just hanging out.

          3. If you see them regularly that gives you the option of “How you guys doing today?” or just “Fellas” with the head nod as you run by. The neighborly, not really expecting an answer, kind of greeting that still makes it clear notice has been taken.

            But again, talking about my style, not really criticizing yours.

  4. Mmm, I run with the Runner’s Kit Bag, but I don’t carry with it. It is a little on the dorky side, but in its defense for running, I have it rigged with a small size platypus bottle/hose set up, and can keep keys, food, phone, etc. immediately at hand and is completely stable and far less annoying than hipbelts or back packs.

  5. Back when I ran (required when I was in the Guard, now I just weight train), I used the dreaded fanny pack. I used a small one with a J-frame or a Glock 26. It looked like ass, of course, but I looked like a dork in my running clothes anyway, so I didn’t give a damn.

    I’ve lived in Phoenix for a dozen years and have never had a Dynamic Critical Incident while running or doing anything else, for that matter. That includes all the times I’ve left the ballpark/basketball arena unarmed and half drunk at night in (gasp!) downtown Phoenix.

  6. I love your fiction almost as much as your non-fiction… you were running? Ok Forest.

  7. I’ve actually had one incident in 7 years of longer distance running and 20 years of 3 mile or less running. Early in the morning an obviously drunk person aggressively approached my running partner and I while his friends yelled from the woods. I got between him and her, my running partner, and we just picked up the pace.

    On the funny side I always chide a different running partner for carrying pepper spray the first time we met up for a run. Hah!

  8. Carry a 21″ collapsible ASP in your hand while you run, and pretend you’re in a really long relay race.

  9. I carry an M&P Shield in a Pistol Wear holster when I’m running, up to half-Marathon distances. It keeps the sweat off the gun and is very secure.

  10. I don;t currently run, I do elliptical. For several reasons (including th eelliptical doesn’t get rained on, I can zone out with earbuds, my doors are locked, running is horrible for your body, and the roads around here aren;t safe to run on because cars on rural roads at 45mph in hilly terrain with no shoulders is a bad combo.

    But I *have* gone running around here. Didn’t feel NEARLY as dorky about the fanny pack with keys, phone, wallet, and pistol (and even if you omit the gun & wallet, the rest would still have to be schlepped along) as I did about the bright orange reflective vest I had to wear to make sure I didn;t become a hood ornament.

  11. Caleb,
    I started to carry, at least a knife, after a man was killed while jogging and attacked by two caan corso (related to the bull mastiff) recently in lapeer county, Mi. I can handle the bums. It’s the dogs that worry me.

  12. I like the Smart Carry holster, carrying a small 9mm while exercising. I’ve found it to be secure, doesn’t flop around, and is unnoticeable to the majority of the population.

  13. So you’re more concerned about not looking dorky than carrying a gun. But, it’s ok because you only run in “safe” places and keep your head up.
    Carry your damn gun.

  14. That woman in Dallas thought she was running in safe places at safe times too. You never know.

  15. I was thinking about this recently and had an interesting thought…
    If I run with a camelpak, or anything with shoulder straps really, I could get a small concealment pouch attached to the strap.

    Compared to a backpack filled with water, it’s not a whole lot extra weight.

  16. Predators will go where there is prey. “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

  17. I use a belly band, and it works just fine. Then again, I rarely do more than 5 miles, and I can imagine it getting uncomfortable over long distances.
    Plus it means you can keep a light, a wallet, and a small knife . It’s worth it considering how often my runs involve helping with broken down cars, looking for dogs in the woods at twilight, patching up fences, and stopping for a hamburger. My CPL can stay in my wallet, which reduces the potential for “my permit must be in my other pants, officer”.

  18. There’s always duct tape and derringers. Or, some other tiny gun.

    What you are really saying is you can’t be bothered anymore. Saying you’ll just outrun trouble is one of the dumber excuses I’ve heard.

    Per Breda: “Regret is a terrible burden. Carry your damn gun.” Or words to that effect.

  19. I love the river trails in Sioux Falls, one of the best park systems in any city. I spent nearly every day of summer in my childhood riding those trails. Even a bum fight can’t ruin the warm smile I get reading this story. (Something tells me this happened by the bridges near downtown or the falls? In my mind, you were passing the Statue of David.) More of this please!

    1. Actually pretty close, I run through Fawick park (where David is) but this happened just east of where the trail goes under Cliff.

  20. Articles like this remind me why my visits to this page have dropped of to almost nil.

    1. I absolutely love it when people leave comments on the blog telling me how little they read the blog. It is truly glorious.

      1. Describing a trend in an amount of data is far different than stating a current given amount of data.

        You are welcome

  21. Soo…
    you run past an incident on your “way back” and you read about it later in the local PD blotter…….Whose fault is it ? Ours or yours????…..
    Jus thinkn………………….

    1. That’s why I asked above: “Did you follow up to see if there was a police report” and the answer was: “No, why would I?” I suppose R.V.T., if one was to find out something took place, that one saw when it started, they might feel a wee bit unsettled with themselves; after all: “ignorance is bliss” as is often said. This isn’t the 20th Century anymore, it’s the 21st, the Age of Selfie . . . . .

  22. BTW Like the pack …….wear it using a lower configuration……

  23. Are people really so insecure that they care how they look when they run? For real, you are in athletic clothes, sweaty, and out of breath. Not sure a chest pack or even the ultimate cheesy fanny pack is much to fret over.

    I get not wearing this when you have a normal means of CCW and it might look goofy when you have dress clothes on at the mall, but for running and hiking I am not sure you can find a better carry system.

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