Dangers of Running

In all likelihood, you’re anticipating a post about injuries, dehydration, dodging errant cyclists, or maybe even chaffing.  If so, you may want to stop reading right now because today I’m here to talk about a very different–but equally real–danger of running: pigeons.

Yes, pigeons.


Don’t be fooled by their tiny stature

It’s important for me to clarity that I am not generally afraid of birds.  I even find some of them to be pretty. They typically seem to keep to themselves and, when that’s the case, I’m on good terms with them.

Pigeons, however, don’t seem to respect the whole “I’ll-leave-you-alone-if-you-leave-me-alone” thing and, because of this, I consider them my enemies. Particularly when I am running, they appear determined to scare the shit out of me with their haphazard flying and swooping.  As I’ve been increasing my running distance, I have had several encounters with these tiny minions of the devil. At each encounter, they’ve appeared calm and nonplussed by my presence until the very last second, at which point they launch themselves into the air and generally in the direction of my face. I then recoil in horror, shriek and duck awkwardly (all while running). As you can imagine, this causes not only extreme embarrassment (who wants to be that girl?), but also the acquisition of a slight pigeon phobia.

Now, when I see pigeons ahead, my adrenaline starts to kick in.  I try to dodge them, but it’s always to no avail.  It’s like they can smell my fear…and find extreme delight in it.  They are knowingly menacing beasts.

Lest you think I’m crazy let me assure you the threat is real:

  • My thorough (i.e. two websites) internet research shows that, like crows, pigeons are capable of remembering humans faces.  Studies have shown that they recall faces of individuals who have mistreated them.  The only logical conclusion I can draw from this is that, at some point, I’ve scared a pigeon and he has systematically spread the word to the entire Vancouver pigeon community.  Now, they are all out to get me.
  • They can actually harm me. For instance, did you know that “Pigeons have been associated with a variety of diseases, including histoplasmosis and cryptococcosis“? I have no idea what those diseases actually are, but neither sounds pleasant.

If you have encountered pigeons-as-running-hazards, I welcome any and all tips on suitable peace offerings and/or strategies to manage my anxiety.  I will also accept suggestions for pigeon-free running routes.


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