On Your Left!

trail runners

I became focused as I reached the top of the pass. I knew the narrow rocky descent was going to require much of my attention. I had to move my feet and stay on my toes. Missteps resulted in falls onto unmerciful rock and sticks. I loved these descents because it became a game to me about how fast I could really move my feet.

I glanced down the trail right as I dropped over the saddle. There was two hikers about half way to the bottom. The first few meters of the trail weren’t bad, but the farther you got down the slope the rockier it got, not to mention the steepness increased as well. My pace quickened. My feet balanced on the edge of certain injury with the catch of a toe or a roll of an ankle. My eyes moved back and forth between my next step and ten to fifteen feet in front of me.

“On your left,” I call out as I near a hiker picking through the rock carefully.


What do you think this hiker did?

Yeah, he moved to the left and I ended up dancing around him. Luckily I didn’t eat dirt.

“On your left,” must be the most confusing statement any cyclist or runner can make. It is intended to warn those in front of you that you are going to pass them on their left side. What the person in the front hears is, “Move to your left.”

I’ve spent some time thinking about this problem because it’s happened many times. I liken it to showing someone a picture of the word Blue written in red and asking them to tell you what color the word is.

I would like to experiment with this by calling out, “move left” instead of, “on your left.” My hang up is I don’t want to sound rude and have people develop animosity toward trail runners or cyclists.

I’ve also considered calling out “on your right” and then passing on their left, but sometimes you get that one person who is probably a trail runner or cyclist themselves and they move in the proper direction.

Ideally, hikers and slower runners would listen for others coming down the trail behind them and just move over. This doesn’t happen, partially, because people have their ear buds in. The other part, I think, is they are lost in their own thoughts.

At this point, trail runners and cyclist have to call out early and be ready to move to the opposite side to pass.

Do any of you call out something different and get better results?

2 thoughts on “On Your Left!

  1. Daniela Miller May 18, 2016 / 1:19 am

    I really thought everyone understood what “on your left” means.

    • Nicole Lowe May 26, 2016 / 4:09 pm

      I’ve run into the back of so many people as they dance from side to side trying to figure out which way to go.

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