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Digital Running Club » Running Mishaps » Man vs Beast

Man vs Beast

Usually, I change the names of those involved when reporting on running mishaps. In this case, I’ll freely admit that the mishap occurred on my own street, and that the individual involved was, in fact, me. I may as well just write in first person.

I’ve never been too fond of dogs. When I was 6 years old, I was just hanging out on my grandmother’s back porch when an excited husky jumped up and scratched me on the face. So, it wasn’t surprising that I was a little uneasy when a new family moved down the street and brought their dog, Abby, with them. Abby is really a pretty friendly dog, but she’s rarely restrained and she likes to run with me, nipping at my heels as I make my way back home. Probably due to my past experiences, I don’t really like running with Abby. I’d really rather she just stayed in her yard, but despite my efforts to stay as far from her yard as possible when passing her house, she always crosses the street and nips at my heels. Finally, I gave in and switched my normal running route.

The new route took my through an alley and past a house with some decisively unfriendly dogs. One is kind of fat and appears to be some sort of mutt, but the other two are lean, mean, angry Doberman Pinschers. When I pass by this house, the fat one barks and the other 2 come flying through holes in the screened in porch to bring down their prey. Fortunately, their yard is surrounded by a six foot high chain link fence. While some days they appear as though they could jump the fence, I was content to endure the barking with the knowledge that I was safe.

One day, I was just starting a 13 mile run when I turned into the alley. There was old fatty lying lazily in the grass. As always, he jumped up and started barking as soon as he saw me. I ventured further into the alley, waiting for his athletic friends to jump through the holes in the screened in porch and join in the cacophony of fruitless barking. When they didn’t immediately appear, I sensed something was wrong, but it was a split second later before I knew I was in trouble.

At the far end of the alley, I saw the 2 Dobermans round the corner and charge straight at me!

It was an ambush! It was like they had been planning for this moment for the last 2 months and my previous encounters with them had simply been dry runs for the day they would escape the confines of the fence. Having just returned from a vacation in the Smoky Mountains, my brief “angry bear” training immediately came to mind. My initial thought was thus to hold my ground. After all, any normal black bear would break off the charge after only a few yards.

Then I remembered there were 2 of them – and they weren’t bears.

I quickly turned on my heels and headed into the street toward Abby’s house. My hope was that Abby would be there to distract my angry predators.

She wasn’t.

I was sprinting down my own street and the only other living souls that were within sight or earshot were trying to kill me. In between my frantic breaths, I heard the pitter -patter of paws on the street. I glanced down past my left elbow and spotted a set of sharp teeth ready to sink into my flesh. Adrenaline kicked in and I somehow found another gear to shift into. I zipped to the end of the street and streaked across a busy road. Looking back, I could see my attackers standing under a tree, their heads hung low to the ground with their tongues hanging loosely out of their exhausted mouths.

I slowed to a walk and glanced at my GPS watch. The first quarter mile of my run was completed in 62 seconds. It was a little faster than I was planning to start.

Since then, I’ve been taking my chances with Abby.

Written by

Brian Darrow is a running coach in St. Petersburg, FL who specializes in online coaching for beginners. Follow him at

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