Monday, June 18, 2012

Another Running Tragedy & How To Stay Safe

My heart sank as I got an email the other day from a reader with bad news. Another runner, Sarah Hart, was killed last week while running alone in Kentucky. Sarah was the mother of three, and was pregnant. As I read the story, along came a flood of memories about my cousin, Sherry, who was murdered while running this past January.

Sarah, age 31, had started out running with her sister, but turned back alone when she did not feel well.  She was robbed and killed on her way back. You can read the full story HERE.

Sarah with her three children and her husband.

Earlier this year, Sherry’s story motivated runners to be more careful and to be more aware of their surroundings. Many people stopped running alone altogether, or withdrew inside of the safety of their treadmills. Some took self defense classes in Sherry’s name. I know that I started to feel scared of evil lurking in a way that I had not before.

I think it’s important to say that Sherry did nothing wrong or “unsafe.” She was running along the streets of Sidney, Montana, a small town where she had grown up. A town where she knew most everyone. She had run like this countless times before. On this particular morning in January, two men had driven into town from Colorado. They parked on the side of the road and as she jogged by, she greeted them with a simple “Hi!” in her usual cheerful way. That’s when she was struck down and choked. Her story is one of those horrific, horrendous, random tragedies.

Could her situation have been avoided? What if she had slept in? What if she had gone with a friend? What if she had crossed the street? For me it’s too painful to play that “what if” game. We can do that all day long, for our entire lives. The point is that things happen and we can’t go back and orchestrate what is done. One of the most important and healing things we can do for ourselves is to accept, learn and move on.

The way I see it, there are three common denominators of these two incidents:

  • Running alone
  • Being a woman
  • Running in an area or at a time of day when not many people were around.

Makes me mad. No, makes me furious.

I’m going to make a confession here. Even after Sherry was killed, I still run alone – only about half of the time, and not in isolated areas or when it is dark. But, still alone. And, I know for a fact that MANY of you do too.

I also drive a car even though 110 people are killed daily in car accidents. I go to Target alone even though women have been abducted in such parking lots numerous times.

I may be going against the grain here, but I’m not going to stop running alone. I will take every precaution that I can. I do this when I drive by wearing a seat belt, by not being distracted, and by assuming everyone else on the road is stupid. In other words, I’m aware of my surroundings and I drive defensively. I also run defensively.

Let’s face it, we are never totally safe. We do what we do to minimize risk, then we go on living, unafraid.

Here are some other things to do to be safe – not just while running, but in general.

  1. Always tell someone where you are going.
  2. Stay on well travelled and well lit roads. Don’t take short cuts through woods, poorly lit areas, etc.
  3. If possible, run with a dog, a group or at least one other person.
  4. Ditch the headphones.
  5. Bring your phone.
  6. If someone looks shady to you, cross the street or go the other way.
  7. Vary your routes. Don’t be predictable.
  8. Know where you’re going. Looking confused and lost can make you a target.
  9. Don’t be distracted. Perpetrators specifically look for people who aren’t 100% aware of their surroundings.
  10. Consider taking a self defense class. You never know when you might need these skills.
  11. Reconsider the pony tail. This is an easy thing to grab and pull.
  12. Have an air of confidence. Walk or run tall with your head up.
  13. Trust your gut. If something/someone doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
  14. Bring pepper spray, but keep in mind it can be used against you too.
  15. If attacked, do everything in your power to not be taken to another location.

People say it’s not fair that women have to be more careful and are easier and more frequent targets than men. Fair or not fair, it’s a fact. Let’s deal with it the best we can while continuing to make efforts to take back our streets.

Do you run alone? Why or why not?

Any other safety tips to add?



  1. I usually carry a swiss army knife and tear gas when I am out alone running. And I go alone every run because I'm a shift worker. So when I run, it usually when people are asleep or working.

    1. Great solution, Boise. I also advocate for exercising my Second Amendment rights on a run. There are plenty of good places to conceal a small pistol.

    2. Yes, a small pistol will fit in my handheld. And the gun store is ordering a bra with a holster between the girls. :) I'm not taking any chances anymore. Once upon a time I was afraid to carry my gun because I didn't want to have to use it. Now I saw screw it. If some A Hole tried to get me I'll use my gun and make sure I'm his LAST victim. I'm just a little ticked off, can you tell?

    3. I should add most states allow concealed carry permits. So make sure to go through the proper channels to legally obtain, own and carry you handgun. :)

    4. Unfortunately, many people who do not run consider runners crazy, and once someone ends up in a mental hospital, because others do not understand them, even though no harm was to themselves or others, it is illegal to carry a firearm, even though the hospital never gave such precautions.

      Many have been arrested for carrying a firearm and were unaware of the change because of hospitalization even though there was no due process of law, only blue papers or a three day evaluation. No court is considered necessary at that point.

      What people do not under stand they call stupid or crazy......... Some could use hospitalization for power control, like the Disney movie Beauty And The Beast. There is often a little truth in fiction.

      Also, within three feet, reflexes are faster than one's ability to pull a trigger.

    5. Wait...are you saying people commonly place runners in a 72 hour hold because they think they're mentally ill, and that would then make them unable to have a concealed carry permit? That is a bit of an odd stance to take...I've never heard of someone having a runner hospitalized for running. Am I just not understanding what you're saying?

    6. I'm pretty sure you mean once a person has been admitted to a mental institution they are no longer able to carry, or apply for a carry permit - regardless of whether they are a runner. I'm sorry, but I have to agree with the precaution that some folks are not eligible to apply for a carry permit if they have a history of mental disorder.

  2. I do run alone, often very early in the mornings. In the summer it is less of an issue because the sun is up. I live in a population dense area, and there are usually lots of people up and about, even at 6 am. It does get a little dodgy in the winter when it is dark, but running early and running alone are the way it works for me.

    You've probably seen it, but there is a new GPS device for women in the planning stages. The women behind it are raising money via Kickstarter here: In addition to GPS, the device also incorporates a personal alarm that will send your location to a designated person in case of danger. I am not affiliated, but I have pledged monetary support. If it comes to market, it should offer something in the way of safety.

    1. this is awesome. thank you for the link!

  3. This makes me sick to my stomach. Yes, I run alone a couple times a week, very early in the morning. Ugh. Now I'm thinking about what precautions I should be taking...thank you for making me think about something I avoid thinking about. I ran for Sherry, and I continue to think about her.

  4. It sucks the world keeps getting worse and worse. I think the moral decay of our society is now at an epedemic level. So sad!

  5. I run semi-alone, I have a beagle dog to defend me. :) I also run in the dark sometimes, in a quiet, sweet neighborhood. But man, all of these situations have me nervous. I don't know anyone who lives near me who would be willing to get up early with me to run, and I just can't stop running. I'm kinda where you are SUAR in that way. I need to run alone. Not sure what else to do. I can't keep telling my hubby about these stories or he won't let me out of the house!

  6. This is so tragic...again. Being held hostage by our gender really blows. Honestly, I wish more were done to help keep women safer instead of just writing situations off as "well, you're a woman. you have no business running alone." I do run alone. And I run at night. But I do keep my solo night running within the confines of my very paranoid and quiet gated development. I give a before and after call when running alone, day or night. And I tell my route and approximate time of return with some guidelines for possible slowing down, etc. I can't shut down on life because there are crazies out there. Be a bit more cautious, yes, of course. My heart goes out to the victims' families.

  7. Shit, this makes me so angry. Who are these cowardly bastards who prey on women out getting some exercise and de-stressing. To answer your questions, I almost always run alone and I bike alone early in the am to get the the pool to swim and I almost never think about it. I live in a "safe" place, but then again, I am sure these dear women would not be out running some place they felt unsafe. Anytime this happens it is an unspeakable tragedy, yet i think we are now primed to look for it and it may seem like it happens more than it actually does. The cars are still the greatest risk out there. My prayers go out to this dear family left without a mamma.

  8. I saw this story the other day but honestly couldn't bear reading it. Sherry's death really affected me and made me rethink running outside altogether. I finally put the fear aside and got back out there, although I take Sherry with me every time I go. I just can't bear the sadness of knowing more gruesome details about yet another senseless, heart-breaking runner loss. I'm sorry.

    I refuse to live in a bubble, although at times it's tempting. I *love* running outside, especially from my house. I live in the country and my country roads are my therapy - I can't give them up. However, I ALWAYS make sure someone knows I'm going out running, what direction/route I'm taking, how far I'm going and when to expect me back. And my husband and I have a family GPS ap on our phones so he can follow me when I go and see exactly where I'm at. I take my phone, keep the music volume low so that I can hear approaching cars, and stay aware of everything around me. If I'm running on trails, I don't go alone. Those are always done with at least one friend and all the same rules apply.

    I'm running my 1st half marathon of the year on Saturday and I will be thinking of Sherry and now Sarah, too.

    1. I run on country roads, too. What's the family GPS app (if you don't mind me asking)? That would be great for me.

      One thing I read somewhere was that if someone approaches you to run to the nearest house as if you live there. I've never had to do this but I'm always looking to which place I would go to if needed.

    2. I run at 5am and I'm careful to pay attention to which houses have lights on in the bedroom. Those are the people who will hear the pounding on the door and get there fastest. I also memorized which houses have dogs living in them. If I'm in distress, there's nothing I want more than a barking dog.
      Be safe, ladies!

    3. @The family has used an app called "Find My Friend" to track each other--whether I'm on a run, bike, or simply on an errand away from home that may have taken longer than expected. I used it once to locate my wife when she got "lost" on a bike ride. And it's free.

    4. I'm going to look for that app. I run a lot alone! thanks!

  9. I run with at least one other person as much as possible (usually my next door neighbor). There are many reasons for this. First of all, now that I run with others I find running alone to be absolutely boring! Plus, having running friends can be quite motivating!! Secondly, when it starts to be dark later in the morning running alone gets scary. Lastly, I work in a prison, in a treatment program where I deal with predators everyday having to listen to the stories of them preying on people who are in one shape or form vulnerable. So I try to be very aware of my surroundings at all times. However, I think you are right...random things happen everyday. Pretty difficult to prepare for, unfortunate as it may be.

  10. This makes my stomach sick. So sad.

    A runner was killed in Denver last week. Car hit him. :(

    1. Driver hit him. The car was just a vehicle. Of its own volition, the car would have stayed parked, ignition off.

    2. Seriously Jank? We know what The Blonde meant.

    3. Jank, please don't take Kristine's response to heart. While I do understand her point, I also am a person like you who is particular about the specific meaning in the wording.

  11. I am writing through tears as I prepare to go out to run (alone as I typically do, but only in populated areas and in the light of day). My heart breaks for Sarah's husband and for those beautiful babies who have lost their mom.
    But I also am angry & frustrated at the fact that we women have to worry about people who would do something so horrific. Thank you for sharing your tips on safety - I love your statement to "run defensively." Will do this as I get out there & work out my sadness & frustration.

  12. It sounds like it might be a pain to do, but when I run by someone, I will often stop and just stand with my hands on my hips and watch them walk by. IF they turn around and look, they know I see them...I grew up as a Cops daughter and I can tell you, running with confidence and assurance is a BIG way to deter assailants. Run like you own the street. Remember the laws of the Animal Kingdom - the hunter always attacks the one who is scared.

    Stay away from roads with bushes and overhanging trees.

    Be safe

  13. Unbelievable. This is so sad. I often run alone in the mornings along a bike path near my house. I usually pass a handful of other runners, but I know that does not make it a totally safe place to run by myself. I guess there is no "totally safe" places to run. I could get attacked in the parking lot walking into my gym to run on a treadmill. It's maddening how there are such sick people in the world.

  14. This makes me sick and sad... what a tragedy!

    My 2 cents of advice to add to the list: Take a self defense course.
    I took one 2 years ago, and it was great to learn how to break out of a hold and some tricks for fighting back.

    1. Great point, something everyone should do (it is on the list!)

    2. Agree X infinity. Even if you never have to punch someone in the neck (and I sincerely hope none of us have to), knowing that you can greatly increases your confidence...and it shows, which makes you a less attractive target.

  15. I run with a 62lb pit mix who is a certified therapy animal. She knows her job but put me in harm's way and she would die protecting me. She has placed herself between me and another person on more than one occasion and I feel totally safe when I am running with her. But due to this article I am going to be more observant and invest in some pepper spray as a standby. Prayers and peace for this girl and her family. This is a tradegy that should never have happened. Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Sad news and so senseless.

    One thing I've been taught (I come from a law enforcement family) is to never engage with a vehicle. Doesn't matter if you live in a friendly neighborhood or not. If someone slows down to "ask directions" etc., wave them off and keep running. It's the adult version of "don't talk to strangers." If they get you in the car, the odds are you will never get away.

    I'd rather be thought of as rude then never get back home.

  17. Yes, I run alone. But I am very aware of my surroundings. Something needs to be done. I myself took a CCW class, once I have it I plan on packing. I carry mace but hesitate at the statistics that people on drugs are often not effected by the chemical. I have spent hours discussing my thoughts with my husband and my gun instructor. I am not going to be a victim, if I can prevent it. I think of sherry and talk about her a lot. As women we can not put this under the table we need to keep talking and working together.

  18. I always run alone. I carry my phone and a taser also. I never run the same route or at the same time of day either. Plus I tell someone where I'm going. This is truly heartbreaking. I agree though you can't stay home because you are afraid. I pray about it and take every precaution I can the rest is in God's hands.

  19. I run alone in my hometown that is a lot like Sherry's. While i've never been bothered by another person, I've been attacked by dogs twice. I started running with my hand gun when I run alone. I took several hand gun safety, safety defense and tactual defense classes-similar to police training. I think the most important thing I carry with me is my spidey sense. If it feels weird, I go the other way. I tell someone my route and expected time of return. I wear a road id

    1. Where did you take the hand gun safety and defense classes? Thanks!

  20. This is sickening, sad and angers the shit out of me. Yeah I run alone. I don't really have someone else to run with - I can take all my runs to a treadmill at the gym but I will not. Yes, I'll be as on-alert as possible, and yes, this all shakes me to my core.

  21. Thanks for the great post. After being assaulted more than two years ago (I'm one of the "lucky" ones who survived), I still struggle with exercising outside on my own. These are great tips, and I'd like to this: Be vigilant. Listen to this advice. You are not invincible, no matter how "safe" the neighborhood, no matter how well-traveled the street. Don't let your guard down.

  22. I had a "gut" feeling this morning to turn around and head back to the main road instead of the trail. The guy who came up behind me just before I turned did not fit the MO of a 5am runner. He was wearing basketball shorts that were falling down and a cotton T with dark athletic work shoes. Postings like this make me hyper aware and remind me to remember the details just in case. Chances are he was harmless but it wasnt worth finding out, I'd rather cut my run short than not get to go home at all. I hate that I don't get to feel safe alone because the world has a few crazies. Stay safe ladies :)

  23. I would like to add to this, if you use social media, i.e. Facebook, and like to post your runs to your profile, make SURE the privacy settings in FB or your workout tracking app don't allow others to see the map of your run. Especially if you start or end at your house. If you don't have privacy controls set right, anyone with internet access can see where you are. Better safe than sorry!

    1. This is a great tip. I think people give away much too much info on social media sites. You never know who is reading.

    2. You know, I was on Daily Mile for about a week until two total strangers commented on my runs. One was from Florida, and one was from my own city! I immediately passed this on to my friends as I had searched and DM is not private even if it says you have it set on private. And yet, my friends not only continue to post their runs but they will post their childrens names, photos, local schools, neighborhoods, the entire thing. I guess I grew up too cautious. I was the heck out of there.

      I live in an iffy neighborhood. Not bad yet, but certainly not "good" and I run at night. I'm just very confident, I do my best to follow the rules and I run on the busiest street there is.

    3. I use Daily Mile, too, but my route is listed as "outside" or "treadmill". Tough for them to figure out where "outside" is. ;) Plus, I have no friends...

    4. I also use Daily Mile, but never map my runs on it. Like the poster above, I'm pretty vague in my descriptions.

    5. I'm the same way...log my runs on Daily Mile just as distance and time and DO NOT include the route!

  24. I just refuse to run scared. I typically run alone, early in the morning. I like that it's light out early now because it feels safer, but I actually enjoy the dark in the winter.

    I like the tip about not engaging with a car. Probably would have ignored one, anyway, but that seems like SOUND advice. I always look around A LOT because I've heard that advice about NOT looking like an easy target. I'm going to be even more deliberate about this now that I read the cop's daughter's advice above, too.

    Also, I DO listen to music, but I only wear ONE headphone (which is now a habit I can't break even if I am running somewhere I know I'm safe) and I don't have it loud, so I can still hear everything. I use my iPhone for music, so I can always also make a call.

    Be safe, ladies, but let's keep running.

  25. Again this just makes me sick enough to my stomach to look for other people to run with or manage my time to run with my running partner. I just started training for a marathon; I really just started feeling safe again to run alone on our country roads. I'm on my 3rd week and I've been running alone. I always carry pepper spray in my hand ready to use and never run with headphones and feel like I'm always on guard. I'm going to look into self defense classes and stop wearing a pony tail IF I ever run Alone again. Thank you for sharing.

  26. I to run alone. I have mace that I carry, my phone and a tracking device and I do tell hubby where I run. Where I run I see a ton a police, I always run when there is lots of traffic and people around. I stay very focused if I am running in an area that I don't feel comfortable or I don't run it at all. I have taken kickboxing classes and I will fight my ass off if I am ever attacked. I say a prayer before I run as well. But I to will not stop running alone. I will not let evil keep me from my passion, if that where the case I would never leave the house..

  27. I run with a big dog, sometimes two. People cross the road to avoid us! When its really hot I can't take the dogs, so I run alone. Most of the time its daytime hours when that happens so there are enough people around. I have been considering getting road ID... hearing this story has pushed me to get around to ordering it tonight.

    I also run on trails and the bigger danger there is bears and wolves around here. I carry my phone with me when I'm on the trail.

  28. I have started to run alone a lot more often as of lately. This makes me very nervous especially because I live out in the middle of nowhere. Years ago a young girl was out rollerblading and was kidnapped and murdered just a few towns away from me. It was such a shock to the small surrounding communities. I know there are very strange people lurking around but most people think it can't happen to them. I actively trained in Jujutsu for about 5 years but lately it's been very sporatic. I'd like to think I could protect myself but you just never know. I carry my phone and have thought about carrying a knife. Tip: You HAVE to be confident in using a knife or it WILL be used against you.

  29. This is all such great advice! Thanks everyone!

  30. Replies
    1. Only do this if you are trained to do this.

    2. I am personally very frightened by the number of runners saying they run with guns! Maybe I'm naive, but I hate guns, came from a family that opposed them; as a child, I was never even allowed to play with a toy gun, a rule I passed on to my children. I know you there is fear and that you want to defend yourselves. I hate the evil things that have happened; they break my heart and they scare me, too. But, are guns really the answer?

    3. I agree that guns should only be handled by people trained to do so. But, if the attackers become worried about their potential victims being armed, it may make more of them think twice.

      Guns don't kill; people do. Many people kill without the aid of guns, yet a gun sitting on a table will never kill on it's own.

    4. Anonymous, I'd be willing to bet the families of these victims would have preferred their loved ones be alive because they were armed over what they now face.

      As for training, it's relatively simple (and inexpensive) in many states to become trained to use a firearm. There's more to it than that though.

      You should only carry a firearm if you KNOW without a doubt that you could use it to kill someone threatening your life. Anyone who has no intent to kill and pulls a gun on a violent criminal is MORE likely to be killed than one who goes unarmed.

      If a situation is ever so dire that you feel the need to draw a gun on another human being, you'd better be prepared to kill. I grew up with guns, trained first by my father who was a Marine, then received much more training in the Marines myself. It was always stressed to me that one should never pull a gun if you're not willing to kill, and never carry a gun if you're not willing to pull it.

    5. Also, if you do decide to carry a gun, and have trained with it and are confident... try this exercise. I was engaged to a cop, who said part of his training was finding out what it was like to hold a gun on a person. He wanted me to do that to him so he could know what it was like on the other end. Let me tell you, I checked about 50 times that there were no bullets in the gun, and I still almost couldn't point the gun at him. It is harder than you might think to point a gun at another person, especially with the intent to kill. I would say anyone carrying a gun should make sure they have tried this at some point so it's not a new feeling... (not pointing with the intent to kill, just pointing an UNLOADED weapon, fingers OFF THE TRIGGER!!!!!) Don't do anything dangerous, just to try it out.

    6. I just have to say to the "Guns don't kill people; people do" line of argument - there are many tragic incidents of firearms accidentally discharging and hurting and killing people. Especially poorly maintained or older guns. The likelihood of it dislodging or being dropped by a runner and accidentally discharging is also HIGH unless you're HIGHLY trained to carry a concealed weapon while running.

  31. I'm a guy but I'm always aware of my surroundings. What I wanted your readers to know that I'd they do run in the dark, I run with a Petzl headlamp that also has a whistle built into the strap and is a nice safety precaution.

  32. i just hate to hear more of these stories, but I applaud that you are bringing them to light because I do think we all take our safety for granted...runners tend to think we're a bit invincible it's why we run next to 3 ton vehicle and pretend it can't hurt us

  33. Simple tip: know which police department or sheriff's office is responsible for the area where you are running and program the phone number that goes directly to their dispatch center into your phone. This is much faster than calling 911. If you can only get out one piece of information, yell out your location so the police know where to go.

    Just as importatnt, trust your gut! If something doesn't feel/look right, run away. As women, we often dismiss our gut feelings because we don't want to hurt someone's feelings or look stupid. Don't do that when you are out alone - if you get the heebie-jeebies, be thankful for your intuition and get to safety.

    It makes me so sad that we can't just run and not worry about a thing. Be safe, everyone.

  34. This is awful. Some others have touched on this, but I am not back up to running yet and I am skittish when even walking outside since I was struck by an SUV last year when I was crossing the street. Broad daylight, obvious crosswalk, the vehicle was stopped when I started walking. I am very fortunate to be alive. Like you said, you just never know...

  35. How thoughts are with her family.

  36. I run alone, and many of you will think this is going to far, but since Sherry was killed (I live in a very rural area) I now carry a pistol with me. It might be a bit much, but I am not going to let someone take me away from my family.

  37. We have a groper wandering our neighborhood. I am on high alert at all times thinking 'backhand, grab hair (for DNA) and get his groin' the whole time. It isn't making the walk or run very relaxing, but I would LOVE to catch this guy!!! I have a personal alarm somewhere--you just pull the pin and it sounds---LOUDLY!!

  38. It's sad that we have to address this, but a fact. I also tend to run alone, but follow many of the safety tips and I am always aware. I don't use any kind of earbud because I would be distracted, in my own world and an easy target. Just thinking about it is half the battle.
    I always told my girls growing up it is better to trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable. So you cross the street if you don't like the looks of someone or a group. Who cares? Oh yeah, the people waiting for you at home.

  39. after a scare at my gym where I was followed through the gym and the man tried to leave with me followed by the staff not taking it serious. I now carry pepper spray there too!

  40. I feel sick reading this. My heart aches for her husband and children. THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN to anyone! So very tragic. So sorry.

  41. I hate this. I hate that women are still the targets of so much violence. I hate that the only "answer" is for women to be more cautious. I don't want to be more cautious. I want a society in which violence - against anyone, by anyone - is no longer tolerated. I want a society in which violence is no longer glorified in video games, on television, in music videos, and in sports. I want a world in which I can run any damned time I please without fear.

    1. Me too. But, this is not the reality right now. We can work to change it, but in the meantime we have to find ways to be safe.

  42. I think most of us run alone, it's near impossible to have someone always on your schedule and ready to run when you are. I actually just found out that my route this past weekend took me past a jewelry store that recently had an armed robbery?!?! And I live in a *very safe area*!!! Guess I'm avoiding that path for a while. My best approach is that I only run when it is light out - NEVER in the dark. I also stick to paths along our main roads that are highly traveled. If anything happened to me, most likely someone would see it and be able to call cops quickly. I also avoid most neighborhood runs where no one is out paying attention. I don't want to be whisked into someone's Silence of the Lambs creepy basement. ugh! It all sucks, but bottom line, you made the best point. We are more likely to die in a car accident and we get in one every day. Being mugged and/or killed is not as high on the probability scale in comparison. Unless you maybe live in Compton or somewhere like that. :-( Sucks, but women aren't any more less safe now than we were 100 years ago. Actually, we may be more safe now, at least with laws and more protections available!

  43. Concealed carry depends highly on the state you reside in. I've been debating on writing up a post on CCW and running and this is a driver. In some areas, and I know this is a huge point of debate between pro and anti gun viewpoints, CCW is a viable option of defense.

  44. "Reconsider the pony tail. This is an easy thing to grab and pull." I agree with you there but I have a question, if not a pony tail then how should i put my hair up? I have pretty long hair and have no intentions of cutting it anytime soon.

    1. I have pretty long hair too. I take a pony tail holder and knot it into a bun.

  45. That totally and completely sucks. I'm so sorry for her and her family. No one should have to go through that.

    I was running yesterday in rural Ohio where my inlaws live. This is the one place I run where I get nervous--it's just so isolated out there. I was actually thinking of Sherry on my way back in. The bottom line is that we shouldn't have to feel afraid but that as females, the fact that we can be victims is quite the reality. Maddening, to say the least.

  46. I posted this earlier on my facebook
    I am heartbroken all over again
    and mad

    I do run alone
    I dont have a choice really
    I changed my route since Sherry though and I have not been back on my old path since January. not once.
    I carry a phone and pepper spray
    I say hello to everyone I see. even the rude ones
    I do not run in the very early mornings anymore and that is hard in the summer because here in California it is hot but I am scared and so I go later and I had to make peace with the fact that I have to go slower and for less miles and that I may have to walk when it is over 90...
    The biggest change is I am SCARED now

  47. I run with a walking stick and a knife sheath. I like to run alone but I make sure I have back up too.

  48. This happened around an hour or so from my house. It made me feel sick. My first thought was Sherry, abd then her poor sister who had left her to get the car! Wow! I still rub alone, but mostly in the late morning. There are few businesses that I run near, but there isn't much out where I live. It is scary! I had a car pull next to me with the kids and it freaked me out. I hope the fact I have my kids with me makes me mire difficult, just because there would be more witnesses, but then I also worry, what if I got me and my kids all killed?

  49. I also want to add something that no one has addressed. ....and that's what we -as women- wear!! Women's running clothes leave NOTHING for the imagination. We leave ourselves as PRIME targets for rapists. I have a husband who is very forthcoming in how men think. He's brought things up that I would have NEVER thought of.....because I think like a woman obviously. Ha!
    Anyway, there are a lot of good tips here, thank you. ....and my condolences go out to that family. SO sad.
    Just my .02

    1. I see this point, but in the summer I'm in shorts and a running tank. This may not leave much to the imagination, but I can't imagine wearing heavier or more concealing clothes when it's that hot.

    2. I can definitely understand your husband's point - but what should we wear then?

    3. I know the husband had good intentions, but this type of commentary annoys me. Just because you look or dress a certain way does not give anyone a right to take advantage of you. Also, I doubt the vast majority of rape/assault victims are wearing anything that is revealing or whatever. Lots of old ladies get raped too! Children get raped... People wearing baggy clothes get raped.... This is essentially victim-blaming. Men's running clothes don't leave all that much to the imagination either ;)

    4. This is absolute bullshit. Old women get raped. Little girls get raped. Fat and thin women get raped. Women get raped at home in their bedrooms at night when they're under their own covers. What you wear or what you look like has absolutely nothing to do with being attacked.

    5. ^^what she said.
      The fact that a woman said this has me almost as pissed off as the thought of women being attacked.

    6. No. Just, no. It is absolutely, unequivocally never the victim/survivor's fault, no matter what she wears. Not ever. The flipside of this advice is "Don't wear baggy clothes because they're easier for someone to grab!" From this (oh-so-familiar) angle, women can't ever "do it right," no matter what.

      I appreciate that we're discussing ways to be safe and defend ourselves, but placing the responsibility for preventing an attack on the person attacked instead of the attacker is just plain wrong.

  50. This is very sad. What a beautiful family. My heart and prayers go out to this family. So very sad.

  51. This is so horrible and so disheartening. But I personally acknowledge the risks, mitigate them however I can, and REFUSE to be held hostage by a hostile world. I REFUSE. I still run alone -- with my phone, no headphones, head-on-a-freakin-swivel, and at the slightest twinge of my instincts, I haul butt away/home/somewhere other than I am when the instincts twinge. I think one of THE best things we can do is hear that inner voice. I'd rather be considered foolish but alive than the opposite.

    And more often than not these days, when I run outside, I run with my 75-pound dog. If they can get through her to me? They win. But good luck with that, assholes.

    I am so, so, so sad for this family. Other than my rant above, there really are no words for this kind of tragic injustice.

  52. First things first, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago. Of course I've heard about your cousin since this was national news. I'm also sorry to read about Sarah. Its so fucking senseless. People who hurt innocent people are such pathetic pieces of shit.

    I'm a new runner, only since late November 2011. I always run alone, and I won't stop running alone. It is my time of peace and my time with myself. It is my time to push myself. This won't stop me from running alone, but like when I heard about Sherry, it gave me pause and makes me angry, but I'm not going to stop running alone.

    I don't run with a phone (or headphones) but to keep myself safe, I always let my SO know where I'll be. If he's not home, I leave a note. I've thought about laminating a large map of our neighborhood and using a dry erase marker to mark the path I'm taking, b/c when I leave at 5:30am I'm not sure he is always listening! I will have to do that now. I used to have his business card in shirt pocket, so if something happened to me, someone would know who to call, but I think that got ruined in the wash. I heard about the tags you can put on your shoe, so I think I will do that. I also always tell him when to expect me home, so he knows when would be a good time to cruise the road should I not return at a reasonable time.

    I do vary the routes and run on different days, though I do usually run about the same time.

    I say hi to people and wave to cars b/c I run early in the morning, I live in a neighborhood where people know each other, and I want people to notice that I'm there, should something happen, maybe someone would remember and be able to say "oh yeah, I remember seeing her at X place at X time".

    I don't carry pepper spray but I did take the RADD course a few years ago...I know I could use a refresher.

    If anything though, I feel stronger as a runner. I also walk to work and I feel safer as a runner. I know if someone messes with me, I have a better chance of outrunning them than I ever did, and I know if they are on foot, you can bet your ass that that bastard will not chase me on foot for 10+ miles.

    1. Oh, and my apologies for all the swears. This stuff really riles me up! I thought about it all during my run this morning. I thought about projecting a “power” image while running and making my body look powerful when I run. (Though I’m sure it just looked like I was huffing and puffing as usual, haha!) I refuse to be fearful b/c that takes all joy out running. I refuse to wear a long loose skirt and long sleeved shirt while running b/c exposing skin might make someone want to hurt me. This is why working to end violence towards women (and all people) is so, so important. It’s not just about us protecting ourselves, but in the meantime we all can be as safe as we possibly can be! I’m really stepping off the soapbox now.

  53. OMG, I just don't understand why people do this. My heart and prayers go out to this family.

  54. I used to live in Kentucky and a group of runners (Todds Road Stumblers & Run The Bluegrass) there that I used to run with are organizing a charity run in Sarah's honor--here's what the Run The Bluegrass folks had to say today on their Facebook page:
    We just spoke with Freedom Christian Church down in Jamestown, Kentucky - home of this morning's services for Sarah Hart, the inspirational mother of three (plus a baby on the way) who was killed last week while running. We, RunTheBluegrass, are launching a dollar-for-dollar matching fundraiser for Sarah's beautiful family, to show just how STRONG the loving nation of Kentucky runners is. For every $1 you donate to Sarah's family and/or her causes, demonstrating the eternal greatness of Kentucky's runners, RunTheBluegrass will match. (**Please allow us a few days to speak with Sarah's dad, Wendell, Freedom Christian's minister, to see where Sarah would best like the money to go. You can message us with any questions as we finalize the details with Sarah's father and family.)


  56. So sad and disheartened to read this news. I don't have much to offer in addition to all the great advice already posted, other than never kid yourself that this sort of thing won't happen where you live. I personally live in a very suburban, low-crime area, and I've always been way too secure in my feelings of safety. In the past, I rarely even locked my doors and thought nothing of running in the dark alone. A couple months ago, however, a car approached me very slowly while I was out on my usual Tuesday a.m. running route, and the driver (male and creepy looking with sunglasses and a ball cap pulled low over his face) pulled out a large camera and started snapping photos of me running. No, he didn't attack me, but the experience really shook me and left me feeling vulnerable and violated. Since then I've made a point to mix up my route every week and always stick to more heavily populated areas. I think we all need to remember that crime can be totally random, and unfortunately, it can happen to anyone, anywhere.

  57. this infuriates me!!! so sad! I run alone about half the time, on a very familiar route. it is scary to think about but I agree that I don't want to stop living or let evil think it's won.

  58. I always have my cell phone, always make sure it's charged, and someone always knows where/when I'm running. Like a lot of you, I also make sure people in the area know I've gotten a good look at them.

    I know no one wants to think about anything horrible happening to them on a run (or any time for that matter), but considering what you would do if the worst happens BEFORE it happens might be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Think "what would I do if.....?" and be ready and willing to put that plan into action the best you can. I have taken a self-defense class and this was one of the best pieces of advice I received.

  59. So sorry to read about another running tragedy. This makes me angry too... I don't run alone anymore. My husband always wants to come with me now. I am thankful for that.

  60. absolutely heart breaking. I hate to admit i've only run outdoors a handful of times after reading about these tragedies. I run on the tready so much more and i hate it. I am very careful and follow most all of what you've listed, but can't seem to shake that lurking feeling in the back of my mind since reading about Sherry.

    So sad for her family, and the fact she was pregnant. So senseless. RIP

  61. There were some very good comments here about how to stay safe. I never thought about my ponytail...

    This is horrible and I hate that we are talking about it again.

  62. That is so horrible news. I cant believe such senseless acts of violence happen. It makes me so sad.

    I still run on my own despite these situations. I try to run in a group when I can but I truly love running on my own. To keep safe I always tell people when I'm leaving, how long it will take me, what my route is, bring a phone, run in a highly visable area, vary my route, follow my instincts, make eye contact with everyone I pass and have confidence.

    I also feel safer running in the evening than the morning personally. I like to be running when there are a lot of cars on the road and sometimes they are scarce in my area in the morning. Plus a girlfriend told me she saw a documentary that said men are more likely to prey on women in the morning. It also said they target pony tails....I really have to stop putting my hair up in them for runs.

  63. That's very sad and frightening. I run alone, and usually at night. There have been times that I've changed my route on the fly (as it were) because I didn't like the look of the people or the huge dog that I could see down the street. When I leave I make sure that I have my cell phone and that my wife knows when to expect me back. I rarely run longer than my scheduled time. Even though I'm a guy, I think that I may invest in some pepper spray or a tazer.

  64. I always run alone. I am always aware of my surroundings. I do wear earplugs but I can hear when someone is approaching or says hello. I run AGAINST traffic to be safe...people texting, drunk, just poor drivers pop curbs all the time, run red lights or rush through cross walks. I stay in areas with tons of cars and people because I want to be found if I ever have issues. Sprained ankles, pass out...who knows...

    I just really have always thought about the what ifs. I think about them with my kids, my friends, myself. I am a thinker. My mom was a cop and I heard all the stories. I now play those stories out in my head. I never run near a group of people who make me feel uneasy.

    GOD gave women a tool, a gift that many of us do NOT use. Women want people to LIKE them. They want to be NICE. Being safe is sometimes the opposite of being nice. You decide not to take the elevator because the man in there makes you think you are being rude. You choose not to run near a group of think they will see you are unfriendly. You see a man who wants to ask you a question in a parking lot and you tell him no and go the other think he will think poorly of you...WHO CARES!!!!
    WE do!
    BE RUDE!.......stay safe!.....GOD's gift to us is the gift of FEAR!....when you are fearful or nervous...that is GOD talking to you to GET AWAY...change your course, STOP doing what is making you nervous. TRUST THAT FEAR! it will save your life.
    There is a book by that same name...GIFT OF it he explains HUMANS, mostly women, are the only creatures on the planet that will get in a contained area with a person or thing that makes them uneasy. They will walk into a CLOSED BOX (elevator) with a stranger where noone can see or hear them to safe them from looking mean.
    BUY THE BOOK and learn some amazing SKILLS you already have but never use!

    1. Great book! It's been awhile since I read it. I think its time for a re-read.

  65. Thanks to Brend Jo's comment above about having a personal alarm, I just bought this little beauty I can clip on anywhere (great for runners) and have a safety button to push if I should be attacked It won't debilitate the attacker, but since I live in a very urban environment and always run in high traffic areas (foot, car, and bikes), I think the alarm itself would do wonders to make the attacker flee. I'm also going to look at that personal alarm/GPS locator project linked to above.

  66. I never thought about my ponytail. I run alone a most ofvthe times. I missed my run this morning because I was too scared even though I live in a mostly safe neighborhood. My heart goes out to sarahs family and I still think about sherry. Stay safe everyone.

  67. Practice your "mean mug"- When I lived in a not-exaclty-safe neighborhood, I felt like I always had an angry, semi psycho face on, but when the drug dealer neighbor's "friends" would be going in and out, sometime it felt like the only thing keeping them from seeing me as a victim was the fact that I looked ready to attack them first. I still have a habit of making a mean mug when i'm running, or shopping, or anywhere that someone takes a little too much interest. A curt eff-off works well, too, but that's just for those idiots who think a woman running is out there to be ogled.
    I wish my big dog had more endurance- he can only go about 4 miles right now- but he's probably my best defense tool right now simply because of his size (around the same as I weigh!).
    Stay safe, ladies and gents.

  68. This is such a heartbreaking story, but it is important for women to hear it. Those beautiful children have to live without their strong mother. Twenty years ago, I was attacked at knife point and raped while out for my daily walk on a pedestrian/bike path. There were other people on the path that day, and it was 4:00 in the afternoon. The path ran alongside a well travelled parkway, but there were areas of dense shrub between the path and road. And that's all it took. I saw my attacker walking toward me from the opposite direction and I tried to run around him but he grabbed me and pulled the knife. After that, I was just staying alive. For many years, I would not walk outside or go out at night or go to a mall alone. Recently, I joined a women's running group. I'm finally getting my life back and though it is not the same, it is good. I urge you to consider the safety tips mentioned. We would all like to think this won't happen to us until it does. Don't let fear keep you from something you love, but make wise decisions about how you do it. Be fit and be safe!

    1. Thank you for sharing this honest account of your story. I am so sorry this happened to you. So happy to hear you joined a group and are on your way back.

  69. I just want to say that this post speaks to me. Not because I know of anyone who has met such a tragic end running. But because I am a woman. And I refuse to stop running because of stories like a this.

    A few years ago, when a crazy man was running around the neighbourhood I run through with a hammer and hitting women over the head, my husband implored me to stop running. I refused. I agreed to always tell him where I was going - my exact route - and I agreed to never take short cuts. But I was angry that I was made to feel like I could not be safe in my own damn city. So I kept running. And was honestly scared shitless everytime I went out. Which made me even more mad...

    Vicious cycle...

    So I got a dog. A loud dog who barks and growls if someone jumps out and takes us off guard. (Otherwise he is the loveliest, most loveable creature you have ever met). And I feel much safer. But there are still moments when this anger resurges. Like this year, when another psycho was running around my 'hood and pulling women's pants down. Or when I read stories like this one...

    All I can say is thank you SUAR for not telling women to stop doing something they love, and for instead being practical about it and publishing good tips. And for constantly reminding us how important it is to be safe out there.

  70. Reading these stories always make me really sad. Such accidents should not happen.

    I've always been afraid of running alone, that's why I rarely do it. I had my share of bad experiences in the past, and luckily they ended well for me. But they've made me more cautious. It doesn't matter where you run, or when. There are mad people everywhere.

  71. I always run alone...I don't have many runner friends so that's just the way it is! However, I run in an pedestrian-friendly urban area where there are usually lots of other runners, walkers, dog walkers, bikers and car traffic and I feel like my head is constantly swiveling around. I almost always run early in the morning, too, though I don't go until the sky starts to get light. I love the idea of the personal alarm, and think I'll look into one of those. I have never felt threatened on a run (except by the occasional idiot driver) but these stories are scary.

  72. Yes I run alone often. I don't wear headphones when I do. Ever. Not even on low.

    The other morning Hubz and I were running on a short section of trail near a boat house. The young woman ahead of us did not hear him call out "on your left" -- twice as we got closer. Finally when he was just two feet behind her, he yelled "HELLOOO?" and she screamed in abject terror. She must have had that music up loud.

    The advice on never stopping to talk to people is a really good one. If you never let anyone get close to you, they won't have a chance to take you by surprise - and whomever has the element of surprise always has the advantage.

    The thing is, you can be abducted/robbed anywhere -- walking out to your car parked on the street, in broad daylight. Heck, a car could run up on the sidewalk as wait to cross the street (seen it, luckily no one was standing there).

    So don't cower inside thinking if you don't go out running, you're being safe.

  73. I read this article on a woman that had to deal with an agressive driver and I thought it was smart that she suggested holding up your cell phone to say you are taping the person incase you fear for your safety.

  74. Thank you for sharing. Prayer are out to her family and friends during this difficult time.
    Your shared tips are helpful and worth considering.
    Like you said, a lot of us have done it, still do it and probably don't think twice.

    Mrs White

  75. When I started uni I joined the gym and the treadmill replaced the streets but when at home I still run outside - I used to run quite late at night until I was stopped by the police once who thought I was a runaway (a. I was in running gear and b. I was 18) and after that I stuck to more sensible times.

    As for the pony tail... I started a martial art (ju jitsu) at uni and a few weeks ago while training for a belt one of the guys grabbed me by the end of my ponytail and started pulling me around the room - there is little you can do to defend yourself, I resorted to a below the belt kick that sent him reeling but it did emphasise to me how easy it is to grab, I didn't even realise he was behind me until he yanked me back.

    I would definitely recommend taking up a form of self defence to all women - I have used mine in the past, against someone I knew aswel

  76. I am so sad for Sarah's family. Those poor children no longer having their mother is absolutely heart-breaking.

    Since Sherry's murder, I'll admit that I'm scared to run alone. I run with at least one other person and for my long runs when a running buddy can't accompany me, I've asked family members to ride bike with me for safety.

    Yet, I eat a restaurants by myself, go to the store and drive almost 100 miles per day. All things that could be just as dangerous as running alone. Thanks for the reminder that we need to be as careful as we can, yet live unafraid.

  77. Just WHY do horrible folks do these unforgivable things?? Another 'why' that will go unanswered... Prayers to Sarah's friends and family.

    And on a side note, I just returned from a week in Cabo. At the pool was talking to a group from near Toronto and Sherry came up. They knew her story!! What are the odds?? And they were not runners, but still knew. Sherry is making women aware, which is a fantastic side-story to such a horrible tragedy. I SO hate that we have to even worry about this, but sadly we do. Please everyone, try to be safe out there!

  78. this is awful, I am so sad to read this but SO thankful you are sharing it with all of us and I will be sharing this as much as possible today.

  79. In Philadelphia, we've had a series of rapes/murders in Fairmount Park, a well-traveled, and fairly well-lit urban park. The events have taught me that I shouldn't be alone. I am better hitting the treadmill for one day alone in the gym, even though I really want to be outside. My son, my mother, my friends and family need me to be safe, and I cannot stress that enough to other women. I see women running alone all the time in Philly. Yes it's daylight, and yes it's busy, but a predator has a sneaky, well thought out plan of action. Someone running behind you may not just have a common interest in running. Be safe, be smart and don't run alone.

  80. I just got a new dog and had running buddy in mind when I picked her. She needs lots of exercise (motivation!) and makes me feel safer. Whether she will protect me or not, I don't know.... but neither does a potential attacker. It makes me mad that me & my daughter can't be safe in our community. I read in a book once something like "Men are afraid of being humiliated. Women are afraid of being killed." Makes you think, huh?

  81. First, I am so sorry for the loss of your cousin, SUAR. I can't imagine. Second, I run alone. I usually run the same route, but the time of day varies tremendously. Could be dusk could be dawn, could be noon. It depends on the day. I would take my coodhound/lab mix with me, but she has "SQUIRREL!!!" syndrome - I've fallen over her before. Ha.

    This is terrible...and we shouldn't have to fear something we all do for our health, simply because others put us in danger.

  82. Just leaves me sick to my stomach and mad as hell! My heart just breaks for that family.

    I still run the majority of my runs alone and follow many of the tips you mentioned. I definitely encourage others to take a self defense course! And, I'm planning to get pepper spray too.

  83. This makes me sick to my stomach and breaks my heart. You're right that we can't just stop going out there and doing what we love, but safety precautions are a MUST. How terrible that Sarah's family must endure this loss, though, and most likely because she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm assuming this wasn't the first time she had run in that location. There are sick, demented people out there, which none of us can do anything about. We can only defend ourselves and be unified in our refusal to be afraid.

  84. This is just devastating news, but your take is correct. Be prepared as best you can. There are no other choices.

  85. I just want to put this out there after reading some of the comments. Years ago, I arrested a rapist who purposely targeted women running on trails with dogs because he thought they were easy prey. He said those women tended to let their guard down because they believed their dog would protect them in the event of an attack. He was correct in assuming most of our pet dogs will not attack a person unless specifically trained to do so.

    No matter what you choose to use to ward off attack, make sure you practice with it. How fast can you get that pepper spray out of your shorts pocket and pointed in the right direction? How fast can you draw your gun from your handheld? Have you trained your dog to attack on command?

    It makes me angry that our world is not safe just because we are female. The fact is there are many scary, violent predators out there. Be safe.

    1. I think this is a very interesting point. I never would have looked at the dog issue this way, so thank you for sharing your story.

  86. I run alone, ALWAYS. In the winter months it's in the dark, if that's the case I stay in my own neighborhood. I'm not foolish enough to think I am always safe, but I refuse to give up running. We have "find my iPhone" enabled on all our phones, so hubby can track me if need be. He wants me to carry a pistol, but I don't want to. I have mace and I try to pay attention to my surroundings, it's the best I can do. This is just tragic :(

  87. It is so very sad, and just plain ridiculous. I always run alone, too...I bet there isn't many out there who constantly have the luxury of someone to run with - nor even desire it. But I refuse to let these assholes control my life by not running, or only running on my treadmill...I just try to be conscience of what's going on around me. Not that someone can't jump out from behind something...but living in fear is no way to live.

  88. This is beyond unthinkable! First off, what in the world was this guy hoping to steal? It's not like we carry a whole lot with us.

    I always have my GPS on and logged into Google so my location is known to a select few people and do have Lookout installed. I should be more concerned but am more worried about a turkey flying into or in front me or a deer jumping out in front of me. I'm also more concerned with my husband who runs with his head down and a hat on and cannot see three feet in front of him until a car is on top of him. He also got run over once. He said the cars need to yield to him. Yeah, that's what bicyclists say and we just had another death last week as three were hit and one of them died.

    I often wonder and am hesitant to post my routes on sites like mapmyrun. Yes, you have to "allow" people to see your routes/be friends but I'm sure it can be easily hacked into if someone really wants to know your route(s).

  89. I've thought about this topic a lot over the past 8 months after my divorce. When I was married, I had a husband to tell where I was going...and who would go look for me if I didn't return when I was supposed to. Now, if I left for an early morning run and something happened, it could be a few days before someone realized I was gone. So I started texting my route and expected return time to a friend, then letting them know when I was back home. I carry pepper spray, only put in one headphone with the volume fairly low (I just can't give up my music all together), run against traffic, stay in well-lit areas, wear a reflective vest if it's dark, and most of all, give in to my tendency to be paranoid. What else can we do? Just tragic.

  90. This is another tragic story and it's terrifying to think of what could happen on a run. I do go running by myself but it's always in daylight. I really enjoy running through parks but you never know if it will be busy or empty. I think I'm seriously going to have to start getting a running buddy and stick to just the main roads when I'm going solo.

  91. This is so upsetting. I, too, do almost all my runs alone. I feel sick to my stomach.

  92. I do still run alone and I throw up a prayer every time because I think of Sherry and now, Sarah :-(.
    I always carry a phone, a rape whistle, pepper spray and I *always* look people in the eye when I pass them, whether they are runners, bikers or dog walkers. It not only portrays confidence, but lets them know that I could pick them out of a line up if I had too. And I almost never speak to people. I'm always wary of people who try to talk to me. I'm out there to run, not socialize. I wear high visability gear with LED lights and the whole nine. I've got too much to live for to worry about looking stupid. But I do wear headphones. I'll remember to turn them down, though. Thanks for the tip. And I am so sorry.

  93. Thanks for posting. The same week sherry passed away, a rapist held up two women over a two day period by gun while they were walking their dogs in the morning. He raped them and was finally caught. Everyone was shocked because it occurred in a very safe, family friendly neighborhood. Since these events I have carried pepper spray and left my iPod at home. I run at very populated parks or housing developments so there is always a "witness" nearby! And I keep thinking about learning to shoot a gun and get my own!

  94. It makes me absolutely sick that you ladies have to even worry about this. The level of depravity in our society is disgusting.

    There are a lot of great tips here, but I guess I'll add some too.

    First, if at all possible, avoid getting within arms reach of strangers you encounter. Cross the street, swing wide, take a detour, whatever it takes to not be easily grabbed as you're passing someone else. Once you've made sure you're distant enough that you can't be easily grabbed, anticipate and plan for hostile action so that you recognize it instantly if it occurs.

    When that's not possible, make eye contact with those you're passing. It's not enough just to speak to the person. A fleeting glance isn't enough either. Lowering your gaze and refusing to look someone in the eyes communicates fear or insecurity. Looking someone directly in the eyes communicates strength and confidence. Most would-be-attackers are looking for body language that identifies you as an easy target.

    Finally, if a would-be-attacker pulls a weapon on you and doesn't have you in his grasp, RUN! The vast majority of people cannot shoot well enough to hit a moving target, even at very close range. And a knife is practically useless once you're more than an arm's length away. Run to the nearest house, run down the middle of the street to attract passing motorists, run to any convenience store or other open business. JUST DON'T SUBMIT if you are not in an attacker's grasp! Escape is far less likely once he has you in his grasp.

    I admire you who refuse to be conquered by fear. Just be aware and always be prepared.

    1. You know what it took for me to take a self defense course - getting attacked - which it could have been too late. EVERY female would benefit from these classes - you learn great tricks.

      I recently purchased a Road ID just in case something else happens to me. Thank you for bringing the awareness to this tragedy on your blog. We can NEVER be too safe out there.

      @ John above... the most valuable thing I learned in my self defense class was to look them dead in the eye because it communicates, "I'm not scared and know what you are thinking." I did this once in Syracuse - and the attacker backed off - robbed a car - and I called the police.

      RIP and thoughts and prayers to the family.

      Excuse me - I am going to practice on my test canister of paper spray.

  95. After Sherry, there were 2 incidents near where I live: i witnessed a robbery to a resident in their car right about the time I would normally have been leaving to go run (in the dark before work) and then a carjacking a short time later at the gate of our parking garage entrance where I live.

    I now cannot convince myself to go outside in the morning until it starts getting light (even though I know its still not safe, at least there are more people about and I can see farther in all directions). It makes me so damn mad too...

    I am possibly moving to a remote rural town in Nebraska and I just keep thinking about Sherry...

  96. I'm from Kentucky and saw this in our local paper - so shockingly sad. I do run by myself, but it's often at a local park where there are lots of people around with wide, open spaces. If I'm running by myself in my neighborhood, I change up my route, run in the daylight and I don't wear headphones. It's vital to stay alert

  97. My heart just aches for her family!! :-( .. I run by myself now and have been for over a year and a half but its definitely not by choice! If it was up to me I'd run with at least 1 other person every single day but no one wants to run with me where I am at right now.. I do however take my dog as often as I can! and I generally never run without my phone. I just can't believe that people are so cruel! People like the men who abducted Sherry and this lady definitely do not deserve to be alive! .. Eventually they will get what is coming to them!

  98. This makes me so ANGRY! My heart aches too for her family. I run alone and have been for many years. I don't want these creeps to win and make us afraid to go out there! Sometimes just being aware of our surroundings isn't enough. I like to let friends/family know where I'm going and approx how long I'll be out. Runner's World article once suggested no pony tail, but when it's hot, I guess we can stick it in our hats and no IPOD. All in all, the whole situation SU***!!!! Thank you for your post. I'm a new follower to your blog.

  99. This is so sad, I feel so bad for her husband and children. I always run alone and need to practice more precautions.

  100. I saw a link to this post on Run Eat Repeat and I'll put my two cents of brain in here too:

    I was actually already thinking about running safety today because I saw a 48 hour mystery special about a young woman who disappeared running.

    My heart went out to her so much. Its not right that we should be forced to compromise some of the best bits about something we love because others may be a danger to us. I love running by myself, with my music, I love running at dusk and I love running the canals and Clydeside and suburban roads.

    But I have to remember that these things aren't safe, and that being safe is worth losing them. I try and force myself to run in busy areas, at busy times, with no music and with others. I also try to remember that routine is dangerous- the girl in the programme did one of two 4 or 6 mile loops every day. Anyone observing her for as little as 4 days would know her routine.

    But honestly? I largely run the same 5 routes, and although during term I almost always run with the team and I do try and recruit people now I still end up running alone and with music a lot. Ive only felt threatened a few times, mostly in the quieter suburbs. Sometimes I do run late or early but I do try and let people know my times and where I am going. (In the UK we cant legally carry weaponry).

    As a psych, one thing I would say is if someone attacks you and attempts to take you somewhere, fight fight fight all you can. Being compliant will not make them not want to hurt you. Anyone who does so already wants to hurt you so bite, scream, kick, sound off like a dang firework. I don't want to be horrific and negative but statistically speaking if you are taken somewhere you are unlikely to get back out. So try as best you can to prevent this happening then use your well trained legs and run.

    Lastly, men who threaten women truly sicken and sadden me.

  101. I am so sad, angry and frustrated by this news. I am tired of men praying on women.

    Because of my work schedule I am forced to run alone for most of my runs and because I am the size of a 12 year old (4'10" and 100 pounds) I am even more aware of what an easy target I appear to be. Because of this I do what I can to stay safe. I run in neighborhoods that I know, with houses that I could stop at if I felt uneasy, I carry my phone on every run and I take pepper spray. I also tell my husband my route and make sure to call or text him when I get home. He has started running and often times lately (after sharing Sherry's story with him) will get up at 5:00am and go with me so I'm not alone.

    I love running for the freedom it gives to me explore different parts of a city that I have lived in all of my life as well as the freedom to be able to do it whenever it fits in my schedule. So having that freedom taken away by predators pisses me off.

    I long for the day that we women can just go for a run and not have to worry about some sicko in the shadows waiting to prey on us. I know it's a dream, but a girl can hope right?

  102. I have a stun gun that looks like a cellphone.I got it after I heard about another female runner that was attacked in my area.

  103. It's always a terrible thing to hear of something like this.

    I live in the UK where firearms (and taking any form of weapon to be intentionally used against someone, pepper spray, tasers etc.) is illegal. The kidnapping/murder rate here is much lower, taking a weapon on a run is not a solution to this problem. Do the people who take guns on a run not see that they are just adding to the violence and the fear? If you take a gun, it just means that other people think they now need a gun to protect themselves from you. It's a negative cycle that needs to be ended. Not to mention, taking a gun or knife actually makes it more likely that you will be stabbed/shot by your own weapon. Not having one eradicates that possibility.
    The advice regarding not talking to/letting people approach you, not wearing headphones, etc., is far more beneficial.

  104. What a terrible and sad story…. It makes me feel so angry and helpless to think it's not even safe do do something simple as running on your own. Because it should be!

    I always run alone, because that's one of the reasons I run: to be alone. But stories like these scare me, and make me wonder whether it's safe.

  105. I have to get connected with the local running group. Back at "home" I feel safe knowing with little to no traffic I only have the locals (who I have known for years). Here in the new house there are nothing but strangers. I do not want to be forced inside my house. Fear is not the answer. But neither is a gun.

  106. Jen from the blockJune 20, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    I'm not sure if this has been mentioned. I'm from the KY area and the news reported that this guy saw the women everyday on the same run route. So vary your route and just because you recognize the face doesn't mean that person is ok. These ladies probably saw this guy many times and didn't give him much thought.

  107. You forgot to add "Apply for a concealed weapons license and carry a pocket gun" to your list of suggestions. If every woman was packing heat, or even if only half of them were, I'm pretty sure the number of attacks on women would drop substantially...

  108. For those carrying a pistol, how do you carry it? I have a belt holster but I don't feel like it would be secure enough to withstand the bounce of running. This story is so sad, I hate everything about this, the fear, the loss, the precautions, the NEED for all of these things. Those poor babies and her poor husband. It brings tears to my eyes just typing about them.

  109. This saddens me to hear. I am a cautious runner, in a large city, but it seems attacks are happening on every trail I go on. I am glad for the tips I read on here. We trail run, which means we drive to the trailhead and then warmup and run, then back to the car to stretch and get in the car and be on our way. Mostly I run with others. One thing I wanted to add is that you must keep your guard up till you leave the area. Early spring this year one lady who runs in our business park was in her car, fiddling with her phone with the windows open. She was PULLED out of the car through her window and dragged to the woods. She still had pepper spray and used it, bit his hand, and scratched his eyes and got away. It could have been much worse...keep your guard up!

  110. If I do have to run alone, I don't wear cute pink tanks or sports bras. I save those for when I'm racing or running with a group. When alone I have a very old, very lightweight grey college t I run with over my tank, and a big pair of shorts. At 5 a.m., it can be hard to tell that I am a girl. I hide my ponytail under a buff or a ball cap. But, there's creeps in my country neighborhood. Unfortunately, no fellow runners.

  111. I will never stop running alone, but I'm much more careful in the past year. I always make sure I have my handheld pepper spray if I'm in a lesser-populated place. I never run near roads alone either--it's easy for someone to hop in and out of a car as opposed to walking in and out of an enclosed space. Places like state parks, large greenways with only 1-2 entrances, and preserves are good examples. And often cars need to be registered there, which makes a bad guy steer clear.

    Wear something bright and borderline ridiculous. Also, make full eye contact with every single person on your route. If you are abducted, they'll recognize your photo easier that way.

    And sadly, I'm doing a lot of my stuff on treadmills lately. It's as safe as one can get.

  112. My heart and prayers go out to the families left behind. As a mother and wife, it is so painful to think of the "what ifs." I started carrying pepper spray when I fell in love with trails. I was surprised at how comfortable I felt once I added that to my gear. I've started carrying it in the neighborhood I run in as well. However, I don't want that to give me a false sense of security. Thanks for the tips.

  113. I am guilty of running at the most vulnerable time....alone at night...with headphones. BUT I have a very intimidating dog that makes people think twice about bothering me. I wish more people would run with dogs instead of making them go crazy with boredom. Mine is a beast on a leash ready to run any distance and always on the lookout for me!

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  115. I was assaulted on a run when I was 14. Running alone, my third run as a brand new, baby runner, new Sauconys that my dad had just bought me. "Have a great run, Squirt!"

    I still run alone because it's the only time I have with myself, with my own thoughts, but I'm hyper-aware. But even in the very dark, I run where there is constant traffic and lights so I can wave my arms and run into the street, if necessary, if approached, if grabbed again.

    When I was assaulted the first time, it was broad daylight.

    The bright sunshine doesn't save anyone, ladies. Remember that, too. It all really sucks.

    But does let any of this take away the brilliant joy that is running for us. It is so beautiful that we have it. Please don't let ANYONE take that from you as angering and sucky as the rest of it can feel.

  116. Lol I become a wild bear whenever I feel threatened. Someone attempted to assault me lastyear on one of my runs and I ended up fracturing their nosethrough a punch and skull through a kick to the head. I don't tolerate attacks, period.

  117. Stories like these infuriate me!

    Spot on with concealed carry! I run 20-30+ mile runs on trails that take me to some highly remote locations. There's nothing freakier than encountering the lone person out in the middle of nowhere! I recently applied for my concealed permit and also carry pepper spray as well as a small portable air horn (which is also effective for dogs). Nowadays I even bring my daughter along on her bike for my long runs. I believe in taking all precautions. I prefer to assume anyone is a threat until proven otherwise!

  118. 28 years ago on May 22, 1985 a friend of mine Winnifred Teo Suan Lie went for a jog and did not return home. Her body was found along her usual jogging route a mile and a half from her home. She had been raped and stabbed to death by person(s) unknown and who remain at large to this day. Winnifred was 18 years old.

  119. I'm so proud and inspired by everyone who posted to say: I will not give up running alone. That courage is so important. For Sherry, for Sarah, for the other victims these commenters wrote about: we do not let the fear win.

    I take every precaution possible except for carrying any kind of weapon because I just don't believe that's the solution. Regardless of the politics of the situation, law enforcement professionals and veterans that I've known my whole life will be the first to tell you: unless you are VERY well trained in carrying and using a weapon, the likelihood in a confrontation that it does more harm than good to you is high. It's no small feat of coordination to withdraw a concealed firearm, remove the safety, aim, and hit your target....that is made infinitely more difficult when you're moving, sweaty, and scared. Unless you train and shoot ALL the time, not just one class when you purchase a firearm, you will not be a good shot in this situation. You probably will not even get to the weapon. If you MUST carry one, please please please train with it and practice shooting ALMOST AS OFTEN AS YOU RUN.

  120. I know this is an old post but thought this was an appropriate one to comment. I just wanted to share that Road Id has come out with an app and it's free. You can create a lock screen with emergency contacts and important health info just like their bracelets. You can also set it to send alerts to a chosen contact if you are idle for a few minutes as well as allow them to track your route/location. I had a strange man block me in and wouldnt quit talking about weird stuff while I was trying to get the stoller (yep, had my 3 yr old twins with me) out of my car. I packed up and went home and I havent gone back to the trail since. I also had a friend pass out at a half marathon race over the weekend. They announced her name over the speaker asking for anyone that knew her. They didnt even have the emergency info she had filled out on her registration. Both of these got me thinking about how much I run and race alone (or with toddlers) and how many different risks are invovled. Anyway, I downloaded the app and hope it gives me the confidence to hit the trail again.

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  148. my fiancee cheated on me emotionally,with a woman he met at his week long work meeting.after that,he was always preoccupied testing her on his phone.even when we’re in bed.he told me he was sorry,he had been weak,became emotionally attached &had exchanged phone numbers.he said he’ll stop talking to her,but only if she texts him first.i was so mad!!n have since discovered they are still going on.m so hurt,n we’re supposed to be getting married in Marcy.i just want to call off the wedding and my friend ask me to use DR.AIRIOHUODION LOVE SPELL to protect him against other women so i contacted DR.AIRIOHUODION and i explain everything to him, and he told me not to worry that my boy is coming back to love and cherish only me more than before after the spell, so i did what DR.AIRIOHUODION ask me to do and my boy came back telling me he love me that he we not cheat on me again, i have watch him for the past 3 months now he is the best man i have ever meet. u can reach DR.AIRIOHUODION on his direct email:

  149. name is russell i will like us to share tips on how to identify a
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    THREAT: if you get fed up of sending money after money, they
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    NIGERIA; about 80% of them are nigerians not saying they dont
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  151. I am out here to spread this good news to the entire world on how I got my ex husband back.I was going crazy when my husband left me and my two kids for another woman last month, But when i met a friend that introduced me to drehiaghe the great messenger to the oracle of dr ehiaghe healing home,I narrated my problem to dr ehiaghe about how my ex Husband left me and my two kids and also how i needed to get a job in a very big company.He only said to me that i have come to the right place were i will be getting my heart desire without any side effect.He told me what i need to do,After it was been done,24 hours later,My Ex Husband called me on the phone and was saying sorry for living me and the kids before now and one week after my Husband called me to be pleading for forgiveness,I was called for interview in a very big company here in USA were i needed to work as the managing director..I am so happy and overwhelmed that i have to tell this to the entire world to contact dr ehiaghe on his personal email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct on: and your problem will be solve.

  152. who ever is reading this testimony today should please celebrate with me and my family because it all started like a joke to some people and others said it was impossible. my name is Michael i live in Chicago i am happily married with two kids and a lovely wife something terrible happen to my family along the line, i lost my job and my wife packed out of my house because i was unable to take care of her and my kids at that particular time. i manage all through five years, no wife to support me to take care of the children and there come a faithful day that i will never forget in my life i met an old friend who i explain all my difficulties to, and he took me to a spell caster and and the name of the temple is called, DR Okundonor, i was assure that everything will be fine and my wife will come back to me after the wonderful work of Dr Okundonorgreatspell, my wife came back to me and today i am one of the richest man in my country. i advice you if you have any problem email him with this email: ( ) and you will have the best result. take things for granted and it will be take from you. i wish you all the best.

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  154. My Name is EMILY, From United Kingdom. I wish to share my testimonies with the
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    with his great spell, I was married to this
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    1) If you want your ex back.
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    (9) How you been scammed and you want
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  155. My Name is Amanda. My husband had been gone for about 7 months, I contacted DR ABULU from other testifiers and within a few minutes of speaking with him, I realized that ABULU spell was the one person whom I could completely trust. I didn’t expect the spell would work so fast. Within 12 hours, my husband was back in my life. I want to express my warmest gratitude to I’ll never ever forget all the happiness you gave me. I’ll like to share his contact with you all if any is in need of help..

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