Professional runner and two time Guinness World Record holder Calum Neff was struck by a vehicle during his morning training run on Thursday, November 16th. The St. John XXIII High School cross country coach fractured his leg when a driver, who had stopped at the crosswalk leaving his neighborhood on Peek just North of Westheimer, did not see him as he passed in front of his vehicle and accelerated into Neff. Calum was on his routine Thursday morning training run from Good Times Running Co. which hosts a popular community “bagel run” that commonly sees 30 to 50 other runners on the same route.
“I was on the median as he stopped at the intersection and thought he acknowledged me. I waived thanks and began to cross, all of the sudden he presses on the gas when I’m right in front of him, I couldn’t believe it,” says Neff. “I jump as high as I could to get on the hood but the impact still threw me almost 10 feet onto Peek Rd.”
Doctors informed Neff of a fractured fibula which will prevent him from running competitively for the next few months including what would have been his fifth straight Houston Marathon in January where he has frequently been Houston’s top finisher. It appears he will also not be able to race the Katy Half Marathon, the event where in 2016 he broke the Guinness World Record pushing his daughter in a stroller in 1 hour 11 minutes. “One of the first calls I made was to my sponsors, I was pretty worried as I had promised them some big performances” he recalls. “My leg is feeling better although I’m still pretty shaken I am also very thankful as it could have been a lot worse, most morning I am usually pushing one or two of my girls in the stroller”
This incident adds to a long list that raises concern in what that is all too common throughout Katy and especially the running, cycling, and triathlete communities. Last year 678 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles statewide. TxDOT reports an increase of 21.5% after deaths totally 558 in 2015.
Neff points to the lack of safe pedestrian walkways and infrastructure in Katy as one area to improve but also the needed education and improved awareness for motorists. “We are severely missing a culture of sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists, from infrastructure to mutual respect. Some areas have really nice pathways and proper crossings, while others don’t even have sidewalks at all. The crosswalks we do have, around the Cinco Ranch area in particular, are cut in half by impassable medians forcing you on to the main roadway outside of the white crosswalk lines, it baffles me. It also saddens me that the most common response to this problem is to not run in the neighborhoods or cycle on the streets. We really need to find a safer way to enjoy being outside in Katy.”
“We’ve had another local athlete hit while running since this was written, driver ran stop sign looking at phone as he was running through crosswalk not far from where my accident occurred on Peek. A number of cyclists hit in the area (Cypress), about 1/week, including a fatality and another that was participating in an event on a closed course with police at the intersection (another distracted driving case it appears),” said Calum Neff.
2016 TxDOT – http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2016/01.pdf
2015 TxDOT – https://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2015/01.pdf