We are heartbroken. We are furious.
The abduction and violent murder of Eliza Fletcher has shaken the running community across the country. Everyone at Chicago Athlete is saddened about this latest crime against a member of our community. Our thoughts are with Eliza, her family, and the Memphis community. We all have our reasons for running, but the one thing that bounds us is the love for the sport.
Unfortunately, Violence against women is a sad reality in our society, and this is not the first time a runner gets murdered while on the run. In fact, according to the National Women’s Running Survey 2022, 47% of females report experiencing harassment, and 11% have been followed or intimated while running. These reports shed light on women’s fears around safety while running.
I have experienced harassment while running, including obnoxious catcalling or men exposing themselves. I have learned to tolerate that kind of behavior which is infuriating. The murder of Eliza Fletcher was an alarming reminder of how fragile life is. Even sadder was to read story after story from female runners I know who share their stories on social media. They talked about being harassed, intimidated, and assaulted at the Chicago lakefront path. It got me thinking that perhaps it is time to take the initiative to advocate for safety and change. I think it is time to not just talk about it but be loud about it.
When I moved to Chicago in 2007, I fell in love with the lakefront path; I used to run solo in the early mornings before work until I found The Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA). I am very grateful for this community which has made my running safe, motivating, and welcoming.
In a perfect world, we would not need to think about safety, what we wear, or what self-defense items we should bring. I hate having to talk about it. But we must be mindful and alert of the dangers out there.
We have gathered a list of safety tips and precautions for our runners, especially our female runners.
- Plan your route and know your route: run at different times and change your way regularly. I usually run north one day and south the next day.
- Run with others – Running with others is fun and has a tremendous positive impact on your mental health.
- Share your running plans with loved ones – Let someone know where you plan to run, bring your phone, and have updated emergency contact information.
- Wear a headlamp/lights – Make yourself visible.
- Have cash/credit card with you – Err on the side of caution
- If you listen to music, use only one earbud and keep the volume low.
- Trust your intuition – Our body’s nervous system keeps us safe. It often senses danger way before our brain does.
- Be aware of your surrounding – make eye contact with every person on your path, and be mindful.
- Arm yourself – Pepper spray, personal alarm, sharp object. I am not going down without a fight. I will kick and punch you down.
- Use your voice – Do not be afraid to scream and yell for help.
Yes, talking about safety seems repetitive and unfair. We are frustrated because, despite the awareness effort, violence against women continues to be a global concern. We want a community where no female runner fears being abducted during her run. We want to remain hopeful that all female runners one day feel safe to go for a run whenever and wherever they choose to.
We hope this is the last time we run for victims. We pray this is the last time we create #’s to dedicate our run to victims.
All my female runners near and far, please be SAFE. We all know this could have been any of us. #wearelizafletcher #runforliza
We will finish Liza’s run on Friday, September 9, 2022. Go out there and run if you can!
#runningismytherapy #womensupportingwomen #wearelizafletcher #runforliza #elizafletcher #ashlingmurphy #sydneysutherland #mollietibbetts #karinavetrano #allybrueger #vanessmarcotte
Written By: Erika Ostrander & Suzuka Hetterich