A message to Piers Morgan - lay off attacking runners

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A lone runner on a canal tow path in Mile End, London. - Credit: Carl Marston

The running community has been stirred up this week by TV host Piers Morgan's astonishing verbal attack on runners "breathing heavily" over everyone along high streets, up and down the country.

In my experience, as a runner, I have experienced no instances of "unbelievably selfish" runners spitting, sweating and wheezing while supposedly terrorising high streets with their very presence during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Far from it, as a runner I have tended to embark on the daily or rather thrice-weekly training run by hitting the trail along a river bank, in a park, or along quiet residential streets.

Piers Morgan, co-presenter of Good Morning Britain, suggested the idea to the health secretary Picture: IAN WEST/PA

Piers Morgan, co-presenter of Good Morning Britain, criticised runners for 'spitting' and 'breathing heavily' - Credit: PA

Moreover, I have certainly avoided any form of spitting, while out pounding the streets, even if I happen to be in the middle of a wood or toiling around a field, with no one else in sight.

And, like virtually every other club runner or recreational jogger that I have encountered over the last  10 or so very difficult months, I have tried to give any passing pedestrian, dog walker. cyclist or fellow runner plenty of space by veering off the road or path to avoid close-contact.

Also: Carl Marston's top five marathons

Now I know Piers Morgan, in his role as the TV anchor of 'Good Morning Britain,' which he hosts alongside Susanna Reid, was referring more to runners in the cities,  particularly London, than runners in the villages and small market towns of Suffolk.

But I too have visited big town centres in recent months, and have never felt at all intimidated by any so-called "selfish" members of the running community.

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And that's despite there obviously being more people than ever out running and exercising, especially during the long periods of national lockdown when travelling too far from home is discouraged, and when gyms, athletics tracks, sports centres and sports clubs are closed due to the lockdown restrictions.

Runners congregate for the start of the Ipswich Twilight 10K, held outside Ipswich Town Football Clu

A pre-pandemic scene: Runners congregate for the start of the Ipswich Twilight 10K, held outside Ipswich Town Football Club, in 2019. - Credit: Archant

During his rant, or at least the airing of some very strong opinions, Morgan insisted:

'I’d like people to stop running on busy streets and breathing heavily. All over everyone, they run past. I just think it’s unbelievably selfish.

'It’s like - Go and run in a park - they’re all open.

'Just stop running down the high street blustering over people, I just think it’s ridiculous.’

Not surprisingly, Morgan has faced a backlash from the public on social media sites over his outspoken comments, especially his references to runners "spitting," "breathing heavily" and being "unbelievably selfish."

Personally, I consider Morgan's comments to be grossly unfair, and completely unnecessary.

In my experience, there is always a tiny minority in any group - whether it be dog walkers, cyclists, ramblers, scooter riders, shoppers or runners - who could do more to avoid passers-by when it comes to social distancing.

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A sign which no doubt Piers Morgan would approve, this one along the course of the Great Yarmouth North Beach parkun - Credit: Carl Marston

Perhaps they might brush past a little too close, or fail to stop and wait near a bridge or narrow section of path or alleyway, to let others go by, but runners are no more guilty of this than any other section of society.

In fact, if anything runners literally 'go out of their way' to give people more space. I know I have veered off paths into roads, and stopped for a breather at busy inter-sections, more than ever since the pandemic took a grip of the nation from last March.

So I say - lay off runners, Mr Morgan!

I breathe when I am running, I admit, but I don't spit or invade someone else's space. Trying to stay healthy is not a crime.

In one of his responses to a critical message on Twitter, Morgan tweeted:

'I’ve never understood why runners use high streets other than to show off and annoy everyone.'

Well, some runners live close to high streets, and annoying everyone is something that Morgan might know something about himself.

There, that's my own rant over with.

Time for a run.

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