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'It does make me nervous': female runners talk safety after abduction, killing of Tennessee runner

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Posted at 10:50 PM, Sep 07, 2022

CLEVELAND — The reported kidnapping and murder of a Tennessee teacher while she was on a morning run is prompting other female runners to share their fears and frustrations about running solo.

Investigators in Memphis said Eliza Fletcher was abducted during a run around 4:30 a.m. Friday. The 34-year-old’s body was recovered on Monday, one day after police arrested 38-year-old Cleotha Abston. A judge revoked the suspect’s bond after he was charged with first degree murder and abduction.

RELATED:Suspect's bond revoked by judge following Eliza Fletcher’s killing

“I’m thinking about her on all of my runs. And I just can’t believe something like that would happen to someone like her,” Madison Horning told News 5 Wednesday.

Horning and her sister have been training for a half marathon and marathon this summer. She said safety, while always a priority, has been top of mind since Fletcher’s death.

“It’s really tough being a girl and wanting to be a runner,” she said. “My biggest fear when I’m running should be twisting my ankle, not that I’m going to get abducted. It’s definitely really scary.”

She added, she typically runs during daylight hours in high-traffic public areas like Edgewater Park.

Other women echoed feelings of fear and shared how they keep themselves safe while running or walking alone.

“I always try to tell somebody where I’m going, whether that be a family member or my roommate,” said Katherine King.

Joy Perry said, “I never have an earpiece in so any movements that happen I can be ready to react if I have to.”

“It does make me nervous,” Ariel Shields added. “It does stink because I do go to work early and it would be nice to get a run in, but I don’t want to risk it, and risk feeling unsafe and pressure to get home, or not being able to enjoy my run.”

According to a 2021 survey by RunRepeat, more than 45 percent of female runners reported experiencing harassment while running. Of those, more than 80 percent adjusted their running habits and 24 percent started carrying a weapon or means for self-defense.

“It’s sad that you have to think about it, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop,” said Joy Perry.

It’s a sentiment shared by others on social media. Some are dedicating 3.4 mile runs to Fletcher, who was 34. Virtual runs are also planned across the country, encouraging participants to go for a run in Fletcher’s honor between Sep. 9-18 and tag #finishelizasrun in an online post.

Read more about the virtual run by clicking on this link.

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