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Pick A Side, Any Side

I’ve been running for over nine years. There were some earlier years, but I don’t think my stint in college counts. Back in the day, I’d jump on a treadmill and pump out one whole whopping mile and feel like a master. So, those early days don’t really count. I used to be a dedicated treadmill runner, especially when the pollen count was astronomically high, but I’ve broadened my horizons. More recently, I have preferred to run outdoors, despite some misadventures. I enjoy being outside and seeing those lovely black swans swimming in the pond (which by the way, I just discovered were fake).

While living in Germany, and then in Greece, I have logged some serious mileage. I have seen some interesting sights on my running adventures and have had some strange stories to share. Since being back in Germany I have noticed a new trend. Well, at least I never noticed this before, and definitely not in Greece. Over the past two years I have noticed that the German runners are divided on the issue of which side of the road, path, or trail to run on.

Americans have traditionally run on the right of a path or trail and roads are the only exception. We are expected to use logic and common sense when it comes to the probability of not being hit by a car. For example, if road running and there is a curve, a runner must exercise good judgment and may need to cross over. If you cannot see an oncoming car, then the car will not be able to see you. Also, if there is a mud puddle, giant hole, or man eating dog, a runner has to respond. So, runners may not always run on the right 100% of the time.

In countries where we drive on the right, bicyclists, scooters (motorbikes), walkers, and rollerbladers all stay to the right. Right of way – drive on the right – etc., etc. etc. This is how it works in most places that I have been.

Not in Germany. Nope. No. Not even. Which is weird because they take their Right of Way very seriously here. Very. I’m not saying this is silly or bad. I agree. It works. Way to go.

This is where my confusion comes in. They drive on the right, walk on the right, bike on the right, rollerblade on the right, and skip and jump on the right. BUT they run on the LEFT! Sometimes.

This is a new thing. It’s mindboggling and I’m in great distress over this. Please realize, that there are still many runners running on the right, but now there are just as many running on the left.

I had an incident last weekend regarding this very issue, which I have chosen not to share. It could have led to an international incident and you could have watched me on CNN. But, I exercised GREAT restraint and I continue to be a free woman today. All I can say is beware, some people that you annoy are Irish and we just can’t always help it. I firmly believe that God saved the guy that was involved in this particular incident. Otherwise . . . never mind.

Runners have a culture of their own. I love being a runner and I feel a sort of kinship when I see others doing it, too. It’s almost like we have a secret understanding of, “Yeah, I know. It’s cold out here.” This running on the left garbage has me spinning. This seems to be something that no one here can agree on. If they are going to run on the left, then I’ll do it too. No problem. But that’s not the case. No one seems to know what’s going on. Just agree on a side. Until then, I’ll guess I will continue feeling like I’m playing dodgeball while running.

One thought on “Pick A Side, Any Side

  1. Deanna on said:

    I am baffled by the lack of “right of way” when on the sidewalk here too! I get especially annoyed when I am pushing Nathan in the stroller (on the right–where I should be) and I am expected to move over TOWARDS moving traffic (on the left–where I shouldn’t be) WITH my baby! LOVE those shoes by the way (in your pic)–those are stunning!

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