Don’t Be Nobody

Posted by Filed Under: Running Tips

(Today we introduce Coach Peter, a Washington, D.C.-based runner, avid marathoner and coach with the D.C. Road Runners Club.)

I ran a race in the country last summer where a deer came charging out of the underbrush lining the road, bowled a runner over and disappeared into the bushes on the other side. The runner suffered a fractured skull and a concussion. He lay there insensate, totally out of it.

Fortunately, course marshals were swiftly on the scene and an ambulance came for the runner soon after. The runner, who spent the night in the hospital, recovered. Newspapers featured him the next day. He was wearing a race number so everyone knew who he was.

What if he had been on a training run alone when the deer ran him over? Even if he had been found by a passing motorist or another runner, would hospital officials have been able to figure out who he was by going through his garments? Would his family have been able to rush to his side at the hospital?

What if he had died? Would his loved ones have spent hours, or days, agonizing over when, or if, he would return?

Many of us carry no identification when we run. We grab our shoes and head out the door. Free of encumbrances, we run carefree. But we are not free of responsibilities.

Consider this email I recently received from a runner friend:

Yesterday a friend of mine collapsed and died in front of the local courthouse in the morning but because he had no ID at the time, it was last night before his family found out. I need to pick up one of your road ID’s.

Who Are You?

Here in D.C., where it’s hot and humid, it seems like practically every summer some tragedy strikes. A solitary runner collapses on a trail during a weekend run and can’t be revived. Who is the runner? Perhaps the runner lives alone with no family in the area and his or her identity won’t be uncovered until the following week when co-workers notice his or her absence.

Surf the Internet and find an ID tag you like and order a few. Or go to the local Pet Supermarket and use their vending machine to create a dog tag. Affix something to your running shoes.

I have a dozen pairs of running shoes. Each pair has an ID tag. I use a type of ID tag that is unobtrusive, virtually weightless and practically noiseless which I string through a shoelace. I can’t tell the tag is there. But I run secure in the knowledge that I’ll never be nameless if something happens to me.

Each ID tag is individualized. Each one contains basic information such as my name and an emergency contact. But there are a couple of extra lines to fill in on my tags and that gives me some fun.

Each pair of shoes I own has been through a marathon, and the ID tag on each pair records that particular race in a different way, perhaps noting my time or that it was a PR. On the shoes that slogged through the Inaugural Frederick Marathon, the tag notes that six inches of snowfell during the race. The tag denoting the 2004 Last Chance for Boston Marathon records that it was 0° F at the start and 8°F at the finish. The tag accompanying the shoes I wore in last year’s New York City Marathon has a picture of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on it, the majestic two-mile long structure we started out on.

I give ID tags to running family members and friends as gifts of love, memorialized in a way unique to each person. I tell them, “Please put it on your running shoe, for me. Because I care about you.”

My tag has even served as an ID. Once I was stopped by armed guards demanding identification after I cut across a parking lot adjoining a federal building in downtown DC. Who were they kidding? It was a hot
summer day and I didn’t even have a shirt on, just shorts, socks and shoes. I showed them the ID tag on my shoe to “prove” who I was. Satisfied that I was somebody, they let me go.

I wouldn’t be without an ID tag on each pair of running shoes. With it, I’m somebody. Without it, I’m nobody.

  1. cynical bill on March 27th at 9:04 am

    nice advert, “coach”.

  2. thankful reader on March 27th at 10:42 am

    Right cynical, the last thing we want is for people to wear ID tags.

    Thanks for this reminder Peter! Something we can all use.

  3. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on March 27th at 10:44 am

    I’m also a big fan of Road IDs (be they from the pet store or from – I prefer wearing a dog tag because it is more recognizable than something worn on my shoes. Somebody may not notice a tag in my shoelaces, but they will definately see the dog tag around my neck. I wear it everywhere I go.

    That being said, you are much less likely to forget your ID if you have it laced into every pair of shoes that you own.

    I’ve been hit by a car before. I know that it will probably happen again some day. I’d prefer that people know who I am, who to contact (3 emergency numbers) as well as my blood type and known allergies.

  4. tallchick on March 27th at 10:58 am

    This is something I hadn’t really thought about before — but it makes so much sense! I’m constantly running around (literally and figuratively) w/o any identification on me. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. Mark Iocchelli on March 27th at 11:00 am

    Dear Cynical Bill,

    There is no affiliate link to the product in this article so CRN and Peter are not profiting from the information published here.

    In other words, try not to be so cynical and realize that sometimes people endorse products because they actually believe in them.

    Thank you for this, Peter. It’s good information.

  6. Afty on March 27th at 11:35 am

    I don’t really understand the need for a RoadID. Why not just run with your driver’s license? Is there something I’m missing?

  7. Mark Iocchelli on March 27th at 11:51 am

    Hi Afty,

    There is no need if you carry your other I.D. but some people find carrying a driver’s license to be too cumbersome and RoadID (and other similar products) is something you don’t have to carry at all because it’s tied to your shoes.

  8. Jeanne on March 27th at 11:56 am

    Especially if you are running short distances, and you’re not running with a belt or with lots of pockets, an id that attaches to your shoe can be really helpful–and potentially lifesaving. But if you have a fuel belt that you consistently use, then no, you probably don’t need it.

    Good question though!

  9. Irene on March 27th at 2:33 pm

    I have the Road ID. I used to run with my driver’s license but the the Road ID is already on my shoe and I don’t have to remember to take it out of my pocket or pack. I like the idea of the dog tags, too.

  10. Lance on April 2nd at 3:59 am

    My wife and I just got RoadIDs and ran in an the Charlottesville 10 mile race. Neither of our running times were recorded in the race results. This may be a fluke but we had our timing chips secured above the RoadID. I have no proof yet but the RoadID may interfere with the timing chip’s signal when you cross the start/finish. I strongly recommend putting your race time chips on the other foot if you have a RoadID.

  11. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on April 2nd at 1:39 pm

    Or use a dog tag version which is probably more likely to be seen quicker and be more recognizable for what it is…

  12. Steve from LBI, NJ on April 6th at 6:33 am

    Around here, EMS, paramedics, cops, etc… are trained to check for necklace medical ID tags when arriving on a scene. The aren’t trained to check shoes…