Terror on the Towpath

So anyway, my favourite run home along the canal is no longer an option because it dark when I leave work. A few runs along Kirkstall Road and I'm beginning to think maybe I need to find an alternative.

I know, I'll get one of them head torches thats been in so many threads recently. It'll be just like running in daylight! But will old chimp revisit the threads to see which are the good ones? What do you think?

So armed with my Petzl Micro (should have guessed really shouldnt I?) I head for Leeds/Liverpool canal then strap it on. Fantastic! can hardly see a bloody thing! So I twiddle a bit and eventually get a beam of light that will do.....just.

Running along the canal I manage to run at what in polite circles is called "conversation pace". I'm pretty familiar with the surface so I know theres no potholes or anything to worry about. Realise fairly quickly that running along the canal without the benefits of a view is a pretty pointless and decide that I'll probably not bother again.

I got past a marina and went up onto a road that runs parallel to the canal for a mile or so. Its no normal road though. There are locked gates at either end which obviously means no traffic. To be honest, even on a sunny Summer morning it seems a bit spooky. I'm sure people familiar with this bit of the canal in Leeds will know what I mean.

I started to run along the road when I was aware af someone on the canalside which by now was 2-3 yards to my left. I was hoping they were running in the opposite direction because it was bible black and to be honest I didnt like the idea of someone running in the same direction. Unfortunately as I carried on running, I was aware of someone running behind me. I felt unsettled to say the least. As I looked around the shortcomings of the head torch became apparent. All I could see was shadows, so I slowed down, the person behind me slowed down. I stopped, the person behind me stopped.

Okay, so what do I do now? First thing I did was switch off the torch. I couldnt see who behind me, the best thing to do was to make sure they couldnt see me. I then went into the bushes that separated the road from the canal and waited. I was aware there was someone or something there then there was a sudden crash through undergrowth but fortunately whatever that was was on the other side of the canal. Now I'm a big guy and can look after myself but I was terrified by now because I knew that what was ever behind me was on my side of the canal.

What to do? After a couple of minutes of waiting I decided to make a run for it. I started slowly, nothing. Speeded up a bit and there they were again, the footsteps. By now I was beside myself and just ran as fast as I could. After all there was slim possibility that I could outrun whoever it was but the footsteps just kept getting faster and faster which was when it hit me. What I'd thought were footsteps behind me was my bloody bumbag bouncing up and down!!!

I felt ridiculous and terrified at the same time.I laughed in what could only be described in a manic manner and ran home "with some effort". It took at least 3 guinnesses before I had the nerve to tell Mrs Chimp. She thought it was hilarious as did everyone else I told. People can be so cruel!

Of course you as fellow runners will be more understanding..........



  • HillyHilly ✭✭✭
    You just made my night!
  • fantastic....you had me really scared then bumpf...what an idiot! but Im sure id probably do the same... to be honest chimp, i wouldnt even have had the bottle to run down the dark canal. Watched way to many scary movies.

    Last Friday I ran for a little way along a main road near me and just because its dark i have to leg it past the cemetery. On the way back i didnt even have the bottle to run past the cemetery, i ran on the grass verge instead.

    Also reminds me of my friends classic mistake. She was driving round in her car and everytime she went over a bump there was a loud bang in the rear of her car. She took it to the garage, explaining the problem. they took one look in the boot and said ' its probably those wellies love'. needless to say she hasnt been back to that garage.

  • I like my canal run too but only in broad daylight.
  • excellent - running through local forest at dusk and it was misty - had earphones so took one earpiece out for security - thought i could hear everything - two fast runners came up the otherside of me and because i couldn't hear them over my own heavy thumping and the stereo i was so startled when they just appeared in my peripheral vision that i sort of jumped/flew sideways and ran straight into a tree.

    They were atually very nice people
  • Chimp I think anyone coming the other way would have had the fright of their life. Hairy primate with head torch and runnnig shoes coming their way!
  • Hi Chimp,

    Like the story, cheered me up no end.

    I know the canal I used to fish in there when I was a kid, not a place I would go after dark, btw never caught anything.

  • Brilliant best thing I've read on here since the man who raced the pheasant!
  • it was a fairly young tree, not particluarly friendly
  • BBB, I did meet a fellow walking his dogs and the light reflected from the dogs eyes had already freaked me a bit, but not as much as the dog owner who appeared to back as far as possible into the trees beside the canal despite (or because of) my cheery hello!

    Anyway, I've decided the head torch's only use from now on is in taking the wheelie bin round to the front of the house of a Friday night.

    What the hell, it embarrasses the kids, reason enough to keep it I'd have thought.
  • Loved the story - running away from your own Bum Bag. Brilliant. Thanks Chimp !
  • Head torches excellent for camping
  • Thanks for sharing that Chimp an absolute classic. On a similar vein, when my children had early morning swimming training I would drop them off and take the dog for walk along the river in Lancaster, it was pretty dark but he was a big boxer dog and looked after me, so we're walking along when I saw something move, my heart started racing, I called the dog to my side, and now he's growling and snarling and wants a fight, when I saw it move again, and then I realised it was my own shadow.
  • Not a running story but along the same lines ... when I was young (god that makes me sound old - it was only about 10 years ago!) I did a bit of crewing on yachts and ended up in Singapore. We all knew about sea snakes but apparently you don't get any in the harbour there ... so a few of us dived into the sea. Suddenly something long and black slithered over my arm. Sea snake! I freaked out and swam faster than an Olympic swimmer back to the boat, but before I got there something touched my back - looked round and it was the sea snake - still there = certain death! Threw myself onto the boat screaming as sea snake was now on my leg!

    A quick assessment of the situation by the skipper revealed that this sea snake was completely harmless and actually made of nylon - the drawcord from my shorts had come loose during my swim ...
  • Chimp: waited soooooo long for your really scary story that I went home in the end! But it was worth it, how very funny and you told the story superbly!!!!!
  • Ok It's time for me to share.

    I'm a tough guy, I'm certainly not afraid of the dark, after all ghost stories etc. are for kids, right?

    So Hallowe'en, I decide to go out for a run at about nine at night, should be nice and quiet by then etc. Usual six mile route, first and last mile along a towpath fairly dark but enough houses about to allow me to follow the path which I know well. First five miles go well, no ghosts ghould or other scary thingies, only horror story so far is the drool that formed when I ran past the chip shop.

    Then, onto canal bank for last mile, fairly dark by now but ok(ish), after all there's nothing to e scared of in the dark is there. Come around a bend at a reasonable pace and stop dead, something big moves on towpath in front of me, big flap of big wings and takes off....VAMPIRE!!!!!!!!

    Er, well no actually it was a heron but bloody hell, I thought my heart was going to come out of the front of my chest. Still 'd feel more stupid if it was a bumbag that frightened me.
  • Thanks Chimp! I was beginning to think that I was the only person who did this sort of thing (BTW Freaky, it was me who raced the pheasant). I cannot compete with this post but Dragon Breath's story reminds me of when I was attacked by a bat; I woke up one night to find a bat flapping in my face. I was revising for my finals and fell asleep at my desk; my hair had cought in the ring binder of an open folder and when I sat up I was "attacked".

    BTW Dragon Breath, I think I married your sister, Dog.
  • Nice story Chimp, I had a scarry experience when I was still at school (now I feel old to) although like LizzyB it wasn't running related.

    I used to live in a place called Barkingside near Ilford in Essex and one morning about 5.30, my younger brother and I were leaving the house to do our paper rounds. I got on my bike and heard this weird deap sighing noice that seemed come come from all around. It was quite loud and imediately set the hairs on the back of my neck on end. I should explain that I lived on a hill and on the opposite side of the road was a wood in which stood a large victorian mental home (Claybury). My brother was still in the house at this point and in anycase had to pump up his tires, so I bravely started down the hill without him. I stopped after about 100 yards and could hear him pumping away, then I heard the sigh again and flew off down the hill.

    After a few minutes I reached a section of the hill where there were houses on both sides so descided to stop again. I heard the sigh again but from this distance I sounded as if it were comming from the woods.

    Then I heard another noise, it was a faint metalic clicking, very fast and getting louder and interspersed with periodic crashing sounds. It took a few moments to realise that it was my brother flying down the hill on the pavement on flat tyres and craching up and down the kerbs as he went.

    He was ashen and breathless and wanted to know what on earth that noise was. It spooked him so much that he had thrown the pump in the garden and fled.

    That was the last day he did his paper round, I carried on with it and heard the noise on 2 other occations but to this day I have no idea what it was.......do do..do do
  • ooh, jenks all the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up..

  • Jenks - I grew up in Barkingside (near the Magistrates Court/Mossford Rec) and Claybury Hospital was one of the scariest places around - all Gothic and deserted. Although not as scary as the time I was visiting my parents earlier this year and decided to postpone my lunchtime run to Fairlop Waters till evening. Quite glad I did - at the time and place that I would have reached Aldborough Hatch some poor woman was attacked and killed there. Makes me shudder to think of it now....
  • Wonder if we oughtn't set up a " big girls blouse" running club. We could invite all those in URWFRC who have got themselves in a right old tizzy because someone has been sending them anonymous e-mails wishing them luck in FLM (whooooo! scary!!)

    We could then start a thread every three months or so debating whether to become affiliated or not!!!
  • Oi! I didn't say it was scary, it was irritating, and anyway, he wasn't just wishing me luck in the FLM!!!
  • Fair enough snickster (thats MY favourite). Not one of my better ideas. No offence meant. Soz!

    Scrub the big girls blouse running club idea. (damn!, what am I going to do with all these freaking t-shirts!!??)
  • No offence taken. I'll join the big girl's blouse running club. On my dark night runs I regularly spend the 40 minutes spotting would-be assasins, crossing the road to avoid the red car that's following me, and launching into involunatry speed sessions at the mere rustle of a leaf. Yep, I'm in!

  • I remember when I was at Uni, I'd spent the evening consoling a friend who'd just dumped her boyfriend. No, seriously, I was consoling her, no funny business!

    Anyway, about 3am, I decided it was time to go home, and, since it was only about a mile, I walked.

    As I was walking along the empty road, I could hear someone running towards me from behind, quite fast. Being the total coward that I am, I decied not to turn around, and started walking rather quickly.

    As they came up to me, I could hear them slowing down (argh, panic, they're going to attack me), and then...this hand grabbed my shoulder!

    And it was the friend I'd spent the evening with running after me to tell me that she fancied me and how did I feel about her?!

    How did I feel about her? Considering that she'd just nearly given me a heart attack, well....

  • I dont want to sound like a "new man" or anything, but I did wonder afterwards whether what I'd experienced was similar to what single female runners put up with throughout winter. If so its a wonder any of you do it!!

    One tip, make sure your bumbags tight and if its that dark you need a head torch, dont go there! (thats two tips isnt it?)

    (phew, good to have the anonymous e-mailers on board. I was counting on them to break even with these damned running vests- note to self, dont annoy anyone else!!)
  • Sorry Chimp - couldn't resist.
    <Note to self: Get some more work>
  • Trickle: genuinely scary. I've said it before on this forum but whatever heckles etc us men have to put up with, you women get it worse.

    Chimp: would we have to run in a big girl's blouse? I find they restrict my arm movement, apart from that I'm in.

    Mr A: please continue your post. It's good to share these experiences with other runners, do not spare any details. If you prefer to email me anonymously I promise not to be irritated (does the A stand for Anonymous?)
  • Chimp, trust me, you do not sound like a new man.
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