'It left me in state of shock': Female runners say abuse has spiked in pandemic

  • Video report from ITV News reporter Ben Chapman

The coronavirus lockdowns have seen a surge in the number of people running outdoors to keep fit.

It's also seen an unhealthy rise in the abuse faced by women who exercise on the streets.

A number of elite athletes have highlighted this issue - they told ITV News that it's high time the harassment stopped.

Sarah McDonald, who's hoping to run at the Olympics this summer, was assaulted yesterday when training on a canal path.

  • Sarah McDonald says its not the first time she has experienced harassment

"Two men on a motorbike came past slowed down and grabbed my bum. It left me in a complete state of shock," she said.

Ms McDonald added that harassment from men happens all the time.

"I'd say more often than not, you get the odd comment and you kind of forget about it, almost because it happens so much."

The lockdown means more women are exposed to abuse from strangers because running in groups is banned and safer spaces, like running clubs, are closed.

Anoushka Johnson has been running since she was a teenager but says she has never felt so vulnerable.

She said: "You'll have them chasing after you, especially in groups of three. They'll be running behind you or besides you so that you need to outrun them.

"If you can't you just feel really vulnerable".