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Murder of Memphis woman prompts discussion of running safety

Posted at 8:00 AM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 08:01:40-04

(LEX 18) — The kidnapping and murder of a woman out for her daily run in Memphis highlights the concerns that people, especially women, experience every day.

Attacks like that one are very rare, but runners say there are things they do every day to minimize risk even further. Ideally, of course, the responsibility for stopping that kind of behavior would rest on the shoulders of the people doing it, but until that day, there are some ways to increase safety and situational awareness.

"You don't want to go out with no plan. You don't want to get stranded somewhere. You don't want to get too far out," said Grace Caudill, a manager at John's Run/Walk Shop in Lexington.

"It's very important to know your routes. Explore a little bit, but maybe drive your routes. Know what's shaded and what's not shaded, when it's a good time to run and when it's not, maybe where it's lit and where it's not lit."

Attacks like the one on Eliza Fletcher, who was killed after a man kidnapped her while she ran in Memphis, are rare, but it doesn't mean they're not top of mind. Caudill's experiences running as a woman also highlight how different people's worlds can be.

"It's very unfortunate, just the way that society is now. I mean, I can't go for a solo run in the daytime and not expect to be approached," Caudill said.

"I come to a stop at the traffic lights and you have to stay aware. You have to take your headphones out. You have to know who's watching. Being honked at is not a compliment. Nobody enjoys that. We're just trying to get an exercise in. It's really sad that we have to be that vigilant."

Caudill said there are some steps she takes to increase her safety.

"One of the big things would be, try not to have any noise-canceling headphones. One of the things we've got is bone-conducting headphones. That's what I use. They sit right on the outside of your ears. That way you can still hear everything that's around you, as it is very important to stay vigilant, no matter what time you choose to run," Caudill said.

Technology can really help, especially location-sharing apps.

"I share my location with friends at all times. I always make sure my phone is charged before I go, as well. It's just as extra layer of safety if something were to happen. You're able to locate yourself. I would always keep your phone on you if possible," Caudill said.

Caudill said it's important not to commit to the same pattern every day.

"Have multiple different paths that you could take, no matter what level you're training at. It's just very important. You don't know who's watching," she said.

Runners who wear smartwatches often have access to an emergency call shortcut that can automatically dial 911 and share the wearer's location with first responders and designated emergency contacts.