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On July 18, 2018, Mollie Tibbetts went for a run outside and never returned. On August 22, 2018, her suspected murderer led local police officers to her body. I won’t go into all of the details that have been released thus far but you can find more information here or by doing your own Google search.
Although I didn’t know Mollie, her death hit me particularly hard. As a runner, we’ve got to have an idea of what is going on around us. However as a female runner, it feels like we have to be even more aware of our surroundings. It really sucks.
Running & Harassment
I started running when I live in Champaign-Urbana while attending the University of Illinois. While I did the majority of my training on populated roads, there were times I ran as far south as Curtis and as east as Philo (approximately 2.5 miles from campus). And although the C-U is a bustling college town, those country roads get really rural, really fast. When I wasn’t running among the cornfields or on campus, I faced harassment from (mostly) men driving by in their cars. So, so gross.
I was even harassed in my own neighborhood in a huge Chicago suburb. After I finished my run, a man in his car asked me for directions to the highway. As I started to speak, I noticed he was pleasuring himself rather than listening to the directions I gave. I stopped speaking and started to walk away but not before getting a picture of his car with the license plate to call the police with.
Harassment isn’t just sexual, though. It can be something as “harmless” as a group of teens mocking you for being out on the trail or how short your shorts are.
It would be nice if there weren’t people like that in this world. I wish women – people in general! – didn’t have to worry about harassment – or worse – when they go out for a run. Unfortunately, there are some sick, twisted people in this world and that’s something we need to think about. While we can’t stop every incidence of danger and harassment, we can do our best to be proactive and use running safety tips to prevent some of the bad things out there.
Running Safety Tips
- Run in well-lit, populated areas. If you can’t, consider the treadmill or running with a partner or group.
- Wear reflective clothing so you’re seen by pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.
- Make sure somebody knows what you’re doing, an idea of where you’ll be, and approximately how long you’ll be gone for.
- Bring your phone with you and share your location with your loved ones. Make sure you, or somebody, can contact your emergency contacts even when locked.
- Get a RoadID band for your wrist or your shoes.
- If something feels sketchy, it is sketchy. Turn around.
- Carry your license, a credit card and/or a public transit card. You can get a sticker for the back of your phone to reduce what you’re carrying on your body or a running belt.
- If you’re doing a long run on your own, send a text and check in with somebody. I usually text Matt when I’m about halfway through (or he’ll text me).
- Bring a personal alarm, pepper spray, or a knife with you. Or all 3. Here is the most popular personal alarm on Amazon. The alarm will make a very loud noise and people around you will hear it.
- If you don’t have a personal alarm, don’t be afraid to yell like hell if you feel uncomfortable. Yell as loud as you can.
Am I missing anything? What are ways you try to stay safe while going for a run?