Local runner organizes “Take Back the Trails” after Bruce Trail sexual assault

Amanda Pocha hopes to send a strong message to those who would threaten runners' safety on southern Ontario's trails

April 17th, 2019 by | Posted in Trail Running | Tags: , , ,

This Friday, April 19, runners may join Take Back the Trails, a run on the Bruce Trail near Hamilton from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to protest the recent sexual assault in the area and harassment of runners in general. Runners are being asked to meet in the Chedoke parking lot at 563 Aberdeen Ave., and the run will proceed east towards the Dundurn stairs, where the assault took place on April 10.

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The plan has received a lot of media attention, including a CBC News report on Sunday, April 14 about the event, organized by Burlington, Ont. runner Amanda Pocha.

On the Facebook event page created for the run, Pocha says:

“Calling ALL women: In light of the recent attack that has happened on our trails, threatening our confidence, our safety, our peace of mind, let’s come together in strength. Let’s come together in support of our active women in the community that just want to be outside and feel safe. Whether you use the trails to walk your dog, to run, to commute, we should all have the right to move freely and safely in our home spaces. Let’s join in numbers, make new friends, find a run buddy or a walk buddy. We can’t change that there are people in this world that threaten our safety, but we can be smart and strong together. We can show that we won’t quit and that they can’t take the trails away from us too…”

The assault occurred after someone called out to an unidentified female runner near the Dundurn Stairs, one of several entrances to the Bruce Trail, which is on the heavily wooded Niagara Escarpment.

More than 400 people have responded that they plan to attend, and more than 1,600 have indicated an interest in the event. Men are welcome.

Police are still looking for a male suspect, 6′ tall, with grey hair and facial hair. He was wearing a red T-shirt and a black baseball cap at the time of the attack. Anyone with information about the suspect should contact Det. John Tselepakis from the Sexual Assault Unit at 905-540-5545.