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Posted by George Parker on

Birds. You never see them coming.

Runners love to complain about dogs – chasing them, barking, or lunging as you run past. I agree that dogs can be troublesome. However, the real danger is from above – Birds.

The past 10 years I have lived in New York City, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Atlanta. All unique cities, but all share at least one thing in common - Birds are ruthless in all.

1. Chicago: Piece of sh*t: Did you know that a Canadian Goose poops every 7 minutes and up to one pound a day! And, thousands of geese are living and pooping along the most popular running route in Chicago – Lakeshore Drive Running Path. I ran this path frequently and was constantly dodging little piles of sh*t.

 Lesson Learned: Stop feeding the birds! It makes them poop more.
Favorite Running Path: Chicago Lakefront Trial

 2. Cincinnati: Dive Bomb! Did you know that the tiny sparrow flies 30 mph! And, when a sparrow dive bombs your head it feels like a blindsided pillow-party attack – not lethal, but shocking.

Voice of America Park, on the outskirts of Cincinnati, was one of my favorite places to run. The grassy, rolling cross-country course is scenic, challenging, and also home to hundreds of sparrows. During nesting season, these sparrows turn into aerial missiles with pinpoint precision. I’d be running on the trail, startle a nest, and then be dive bombed repeatedly by angry mommy and daddy sparrows until I was far enough away. But, by then, I was in another sparrow’s territory and the bombing resumed.

Lesson Learned: Wear a hat. It’s lighter than a helmet and still offers some protection. 
Favorite Running Path: Voice of America Park

3.  Atlanta: Hoot, Hoot, SCREAM! Did you know that the great horned owl has a 5 foot wingspan!

Recently, I was running before dawn when a mouse ran across my path. Okay. Suddenly, a monstrous owl (it was definitely bigger than a sparrow) took flight and hovered above me like Gotham City’s Batman Signal suspended in the darkness. I freaked, sped up, and quietly wished the mouse good luck. (Note: I really FREAKED). 

Lesson Learned: Mice should exercise in the afternoon. It may be hotter, but probably safer.
Favorite Running Path: Piedmont Park

So, the next time a dog lunges at you while running: smile. At least you saw it coming.

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