The coolest way to 5K is to run in the dark, but night races will soon be under consideration as McMinnville officials discuss safety.
City attorney Tim Pirtle brought the lack of visibility to the attention of city officials during Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.
“I want to recommend to the board that the Safety Committee conduct some due diligence, some research, on these night runs that we have been approving,” said Pirtle. “I often advise the board that you don’t have to worry about litigation. That often seems to be a boogeyman.”
Pirtle says his stance in favor of night runs sprinted in the opposite direction July 24 when he attended a Main Street Live concert and it offered a night run called Downtown After Dark 5K during intermission of the concert.
“I happened to leave the Main Street Live event,” said Pirtle. “As I was driving Chancery Street and encountered the vehicles with their lights flashing, I turned onto Garfield Street to go home and encountered the same situation. I was really bothered by the fact I couldn’t see the runners.”
Night races are becoming more popular because they give runners a break from the intense heat of a daytime 5K. When an event organizer asks the city to close specific streets for a race, the city requires organizers to make runners wear lights, reflective strips or reflective clothing. However, it is up to organizers to ensure runners adhere to the requirement.
Pirtle says some of the runners were wearing lights and/ or reflective items, however, the flashing lights from vehicles and lights from oncoming vehicles still made the runners difficult to see.
“As I was going down Garfield Street, I had the flashing lights in my visual field, which are in and of themselves distracting and a little bit disorienting, and I was meeting oncoming traffic with their lights in my eyes. I was looking for the runners, but I was struggling to see them and I don’t suffer from impaired vision. From a risk management standpoint, I think we need to take a look at that as a policy and determine whether or not it is indeed safe.”
A meeting of the city’s Safety Committee will be called to address the situation.