Road ID and Scare Tactics

Road ID is a product that many of my running friends have bought, use, and swear by. It’s a cute little bracelet you can wrap around your ankle or wrist with your name, address, phone number, and emergency contact. You know, for when something really bad happens to you. Because it probably will.

I’ve been resisting Road ID for some time now, not because I don’t like the product, but because I’m uncomfortable with the concept of using scare tactics to sell things. Our society in general is already paralyzed with fear. Why make running something else to be afraid of?

On the other hand, I understand the very valid and wise arguments that Road ID is a valuable tool. You should always carry some sort of ID and emergency contact, particularly trail runners like myself who like to explore remote and lonely places. It’s an easy thing to preach, but a hard one for me to practice. Because frankly wearing Road ID makes me feel like a big pussy.

Did Micah True wear Road ID when he was scaling canyons? Did Jenn Shelton find comfort in her Road ID when she was running out of water in the middle of nowhere? I’m not sure my ultra running heroes pre-meditated their deaths. And even if they did, they ran despite the dangers. What about the ultra runners who existed before Road ID? However did they manage to stay alive? Part of me wants to do things their way.

I’ve been told in the past that I take dangerous and unnecessary risks. I try to climb high things. I crawl into caves without knowing what’s inside. I won’t hesitate to bound off into an unknown trail or head out for a night run. Every so often I do feel a twinge of panic. Like when I suddenly realize I might be lost. When I’ve climbed really high and it suddenly hits me how far off the ground I am. But I don’t pre-think these fears. I usually go full speed until I hit something real that triggers my fear. Maybe I’m weird that way. But I’d like to eventually overcome my fears, not feel like I’m giving in to them.

The other day one of my favorite people posted a blog entry over at Run Barefoot Girl about this topic. I enjoyed reading her worst fears about running, and I’m certain that she’s not alone. But is it really normal to think about running this way? Am I wrong to think that running is all about fresh air and happy thoughts and morning dew and rainbows? Sometimes I think that nothing bad can ever happen to me. Or I feel certain that I can beat the crap and/or outrun anyone who might be after me.

I’m probably the type of person who really should wear a Road ID. But I don’t want it change the way I look at running. I don’t want to feel scared.

For now, I still run without a Road ID. I may get one someday, and I’m certainly not against them. But I want to run anonymously for a while longer. For risky trails and night runs, I’ll stick with a buddy. That way we can either die together, or one of us will live to tell a really good story. I’m ok with both options.


The winner of the Invisible Shoes Huaraches Giveaway is Posso Farlo! Congratulations! Please email your mailing address to so I can send out your huaraches.