Sheffield runners feel ‘targeted’ as experts call for joggers to wear masks in busy areas

Experts have said that running close to people may put them in ‘danger’ if you do not wear a mask – but Sheffield runners are feeling ‘targeted’.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 12:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 12:52 pm

Experts have warned that ‘puffing and panting’ from runners in busy areas poses a risk to others nearby.

Trish Greenhalgh, professor in primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, said on Good Morning Britain: “There is no doubt the virus is in the air, there is no doubt that you can catch it if you inhale, and that someone else has exhaled.

“The exercising jogger – the puffing and panting jogger – you can feel their breath come and you can sometimes actually feel yourself inhale it, so there’s no doubt that there is a danger there.

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Runners have been made to feel 'targeted' by the opinon of experts

“40 per cent of Covid cases happen by catching it from people who have no symptoms – so you’re jogging along you think you’re fine, and then the next day you develop symptoms of Covid, but you’ve actually breathed that Covid onto someone perhaps you know, an old lady walking a dog or something like that.”

Devi Sridhar, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, added that people should wear masks in busy areas but when not surrounded by people they could “take off your mask and run freely”.

The comments, however, have caused a backlash with runners in Sheffield – and many believe that joggers actually make more of an effort to stay safe.

Luke Prest, who is part of the the Dronfield Running Club, believes that this is ‘spreading fear’ and has even been abused by a member of the public for not wearing a mask while running in Dronfield.

He said: “Maybe they should stop being rent a gob, spreading fear on TV and submit their evidence to the governing bodies of our sport for consideration.

“We're being targeted and our athletes are being abused in the streets. I've experienced it.

"An elderly lady slammed her walking stick at me in a rage because I was running (on the opposite side of the road) without a mask on.

"Another less mild mannered person may have reacted badly towards her.”

As well as worrying about the logistics of wearing a mask and jogging, one Sheffield resident thinks walkers pose more of a risk when they are not socially distancing.

Helen Cooke said: “How can you breathe properly and run in a mask?

"All the groups of people out walking in the parks aren’t wearing masks and frankly aren’t socially distancing. Runners avoid people and at least make effort to stay 2m away.”

Andy Telford, from Sheffield, says wearing a mask when running is ‘not something that can be done’.

He added: “I’ve tried running with my striders buff over my nose and face, it’s awful and after a couple of miles round graves park I was seeing little red spots and stopped running. It’s not something that can be done”

One Sheffield resident disagreed, however, and would ‘prefer’ runners to wear masks in busy areas.

She said: “I wear a mask when walking outside if it’s fairly crowded-as parks often are.

"I’d prefer it if runners wore one in same situation. You’re breathing harder with more force than somebody walking and it’s just consideration for others.”