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‘It’s time we reclaim our sidewalks’: new petition slams Toronto run clubs

A new petition to create safer sidewalks in Toronto by limiting the size of running groups using busy streets is gaining traction.

Running groups in the city sparked controversy when Tik Tok user Zulf A. posted a video to the app saying she has been personally victimized on two separate occasions by runners.

Zulf spoke with Global News on The Alex Pierson Show Friday, saying both encounters she’s had with running clubs have been negative, explaining how she was aggressively bumped into and yelled at by these groups while walking on a sidewalk downtown.

“We’re literally being hit on the shoulder by these people that are running into us, and there’s so many of them,” Zulf said.

“And the first time that it happened, they actually were yelling at us and telling us to get out of their way, and it was pretty scary because there was nowhere to go.”

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It was her second run in with a club, however, that provoked her to make the now-viral Tik Tok video.

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“I was just trying to walk home, and again came in contact with a running group… this time (the hit) was hard enough that I spun a little bit and my bag almost fell,” she said.

The video, posted Dec. 19, 2023, has now amassed almost 3 million views and triggered commenters to share their own experiences with running clubs in the city.

Zulf said she heard from wide varieties of people in the comments section of her video, including restaurant owners claiming these clubs would storm their storefront for water and leave garbage everywhere.

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One club in particular that has come under fire is the ‘Midnight Runners’ — a volunteer-led organization that represents hundreds of runners worldwide, with one of its larger groups based in Toronto.

One commenter on the trending video jokingly referred to the club as “Toronto’s most dangerous gang.”

Global News reached out to the Midnight Runners but did not hear back before publication.

Leah Madley, another Toronto resident, also posted a Tik Tok video about her experiences with running groups.

Madley’s worst encounter with one of the groups happened two months ago. She said she was out with her then-four-month-old puppy, Cher, and one of the groups appeared.

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Madley was standing near a patch of grass, she said, and Cher was wearing a light on her collar for visibility.

Even so, she said, a passing runner kicked the dog, who only weighed a couple of kilograms at the time.

“I’m sure it was not intentional,” Madley said. “However, it’s the fact that they didn’t move out of the way.”

Others, however, dispute the claims that all running clubs in the city are aggressive.

Michael Brennan, a founding member of the midtown Toronto Running Club, said a few inconsiderate runners are giving the community a bad name.

“I’m in three different uptown clubs and we’ve never had problems like the recent downtown drama,” he said by email.

The change.org petition is called ‘Stop Large Running Groups from Endangering Toronto Pedestrians’, and it has gained over 600 signatures thus far.

— with files from Nicole Thompson at The Canadian Press 

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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