Running helps me escape from the harsh realities of daily life.  However, sometimes this proves to be a difficult course.  Last week a woman was attacked while running in the same sleepy neighborhood that I run in.  The same neighborhood where I raised my kids.  Who would of thought that such a thing could have happened in this neighborhood at 5:45 in the morning?  A time when I run? My run, my time, my neighborhood – my fate?

The normal reaction of community and friends can be to go into “lock down” mode.  You know, “don’t run without someone else” or “only run in daylight” or “run with mace”.  The truth is that no one knows if any of these things would have made a difference. This gal was on her way to run with friends when the attack happened. It might have happened as she went to her car to drive to her friends home.  Attacks don’t just happen in the dark. Mace can be effective but you might miss or it can be used against you. There is no “safe or unsafe time”. Attacks can happen at any time an attacker and a victim come together. It is an unsettling thought.

So what can we do?  I can’t speak for anyone but myself; this is a very personal choice.  I don’t want to limit my freedom. I hate the idea that because I am a woman, I have to worry more about my personal safety than my male friends.  I don’t want to feel that I can only go running if I am in a group. On the other hand I don’t want to put myself at risk.  The police haven’t caught this guy and the sanctuary of our town has been violated.  So what to do?

I plan to continue to run in mornings as I have for over ten years.  I usually do run with my training partners – to keep me honest in my training and for fun.  However, now I will also, reluctantly, take comfort in the extra security that this company provides.  If they bail on me I hope that I will have the confidence to go out and run on my own.  I know all the routes around town.  I know what streets provide the best light and which ones have back holes – like that section of I street where the attack occurred. There is no light at all and the houses back on to the street. This bugged me for years when I lived on that same block and I now regret that I didn’t do something about it.  Other folks have also complained about this dark section of road on I Street between Grant Avenue and Sunnyslope Road.  Please join me and request that the City Manager looks into this lighting issue.  Maybe there is an area in your neighborhood that makes you feel unsafe.  If so take action.

I am so proud of the local runners who all banded together and ran this route just days after the attack.  It was a statement of courage and defiance to the fear that has shaken us all. I hope that on my next early morning run that I continue to see the dozen or so runners that I usually see running along our neighborhood streets before our town wakes up. The more of us out there the stronger we will be.

My admiration for the courage that this woman displayed in fighting back and escaping is huge.  I am looking forward to seeing her on the road again.

Be safe and run strong!

(If you want to run with a group contact Athletic Soles )

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