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8th March 2024

Manchester researchers find majority of women experience abuse while running

Over two-thirds of women in the study had been abused while running, with 58% reporting verbal abuse
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Manchester researchers find majority of women experience abuse while running
Credit: Lara Jameson @ Pexels

Content warning: mention of abuse

A study conducted by University of Manchester professors has found that over two-thirds of women have been abused whilst out running.

The study was conducted by Dr Caroline Miles and Professor Rose Broad, both from Manchester’s criminology department and surveyed women from Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

Verbal abuse was the most common type, with 58% of the women who responded saying they had experienced this. 19% said they had been followed and 7% said they had been flashed.

95% of women who said that they had experienced abuse said they did not report it to the police. Those that did report it mostly said that there was some follow-up, but support had a limited outcome.

82% of respondents said they worried about their personal safety when out running. Some methods for increasing the feeling of safety included taking items such as keys, the use of Strava and similar programs, and taking personal alarms.

Rose Broad mentioned other studies that have been conducted in recent years that had similar findings.

In 2021, Runner’s World launched the “Reclaim the Run” campaign. The campaign invited people to run or walk for 25 minutes in solidarity with people who had faced street harassment.

A study conducted by Runner’s World and Women’s Health found that 60% of women said they had been harassed when running. The 25 minute run reflected invited people to “stand with the 25% of women who are routinely sexually harassed while out running.”

Another study, conducted in 2023 by Adidas, found that 92% of women reported feeling concerned for their safety.

Caroline Miles said that the research was “important in revealing the normalisation of abuse experienced by women runners.”

Miles continued, “[w]e are planning a further project incorporating a public health perspective, and as part of this, we would like to feed into work with boys and men to challenge the attitudes and norms that underpin this form of gender-based abuse.”


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