By Daire Ni Chanain
With the days getting shorter and wetter and generally more miserable, the fallen leaves and dipping temperatures are becoming a hazard for local people. Now that the trees are almost bare, the streets and pathways are littered with fallen branches, leaves and seeds.
When the leaves are dry, the streets are a playground for young and old as the familiar crunching under foot becomes a sign that Christmas is almost here. Most of the time, however, the leaves are wet and soggy and can cause people to slip and possibly seriously injure themselves while out walking.
Erin Hutcheon is a local runner who trains outdoors three times a week with the Star Running Club. She regularly takes part in Park Run which follows a route along the Quay, over the Peace Bridge to the Bronze Statues in St Columbs’ Park and back along the same route to the start.
She says that, yes, the leaves are an issue at this time of the year and people are also ‘battling the elements’ when out running in the dark. Erin is a seasoned runner and although the ground can be slippy when she is out running, particularly when the leaves are wet, she has received some invaluable advice from her coach which helps her to stay upright when running.
“Try not to look down when you’re out running,” she says, “Just look ahead and focus on what’s in front of you. You can still see the leaves on the ground but that it can make you too cautious if you are focusing on them instead of your running.”
She adds that ‘proper running shoes’ are vital for running on these dark, wet nights.
When asked whether the council should be doing more to remove the leaves on the path or if nature should be left to take its course, she replied, “It would be nice to see some leaves moved as the park is used by walkers as well as runners but I think there are more important things for the council to spend money on.”
Erin says she feels ‘so lucky’ to be able to run in such a beautiful area and that a few leaves are a ‘small sacrifice’ in such a scenic park. She advises fellow runners to ‘take the speed down a bit’ when running on slippy surfaces and that, “It’s not a race. The most important thing is to have fun with the run.”
Derry City and Strabane District Council were contacted about the issue but have yet to reply.