On September 2nd, 2022 Liza Fletcher set out for her daily early morning run on the University of Memphis campus. Liza was an avid runner and was training for the Boston marathon. However, she would not return home to her husband and children after her run that morning. At around 4:20 AM, Liza Fletcher was kidnapped and murdered by now arrested suspect, Cleotha Abston. Liza was a beloved mother of two, wife, and Kindergarten teacher. Because she was a woman she was targeted and killed doing something she loved.
Since her death, women around the country have been speaking out about the dangers we face as women when doing things alone. Unfortunately, stories like Liza’s are increasingly common in today’s society. As a woman, you are often told warnings and precautions you should take to protect yourself. Whether it is making sure you don’t leave your drink unattended, carrying pepper spray on your keychain, dressing modestly to not attract unwanted attention, or not running with earphones so you are aware of your surroundings. These are just of few on the long list of things women have to be careful about to make sure something brutal doesn’t happen.
I wanted to focus on the dangers of something as simple as going on a run as a woman. Running as a woman alone requires constant vigilance and can be frightening. A video created by Laura McCloskey shows what it is like to be a woman and go on a run. The video shows faceless clips of women running and speaking out loud the thoughts in their heads, “Is he following me or are those my own footsteps” and “If I scream will anyone hear me?” The viral video encompasses the harsh reality of what running alone as a woman is truly like.
Extreme violence such as kidnapping and murder while on a run are rare which is why cases like Liza’s receive so much attention. However, harassment of a woman on a run is very common. From my own personal experience, I remember being 13 and going on a run by myself in Myrtle beach, South Carolina. Even though I was so young, this did not stop the cat-calling by cars driving by. I remember feeling scared and that I should return home. Nearly every woman has a story similar to that if not worse. It is sad we live in a society where women have to take so many safety measures to go on a run while men do not have to think twice. A survey conducted by runners world found that out of 2,000 women, 60% said they had been harassed while on a run. The fear women feel on a run is real.
This is still a prevalent issue in today’s world so I wanted to discuss a few things we as women can do to be safe while running alone. Share the location of your phone with someone you know and tell them where you are going. Run with one or no earbuds in. Run during the daytime on safe streets. I personally have pepper spray attached to my key chain for safety.
Though there have been positive steps to increase women’s safety, many more steps must be taken. Many people argue that women should not go running alone to solve this problem. While this may make sense, women should not have to make this sacrifice. No matter the gender, safety should be a priority. There is still much progress that needs to be made when it comes to women’s rights and safety should be at the top of this list.