FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In the wake of a Memphis runner’s tragic death, the Northwest Arkansas running community is speaking out.
“I don’t think anyone should have to worry about where they run or who they are running with. They should just have to worry about going out and doing something good for themselves,” said Mandy Ozimek.
Ozimek has been running for more than two decades. She runs with a group of six or seven people around 5:00 a.m. when it’s still dark outside. She says anger is the first reaction she had when hearing what happened to Eliza Fletcher in Memphis, Tennessee.
“It’s unfortunate that’s the world we live into where not just females, I mean anyone who out alone has to worry about where they are and if they are safe, but we do what we can and I think we all try and take the right precautions but sometimes despite your best efforts it’s just not good enough,” she said.
Allie Kaminski also likes to run early in the morning. Both runners say they exercise in the morning because it’s not as hot and that’s just the time that’s best for their schedules. She says hearing what happened hits close to home.
“It’s terrifying because I mean, I used to be a teacher and she was out running at the same time I run, so literally that could be me or anybody or any of my friends that run here, so it’s really scary because it could happen to anybody,” Kaminski said.
Both women say they wear lighted vests, headlamps and they sometimes even bring their dogs. They also say changing up your route and not posting your route on social media is important. Telling someone how far you are running and where is a good practice.
“Maybe pick a different route. Don’t publicize your social media, don’t post where you are running from Don’t share your Strava, don’t share your Garmin," Ozimek. said. "Social media is great but it’s also a tool that can be used for evil and if someone wants to find you, you aren’t hard to find especially when you publicize where you are and what you do."
If you are looking for a group to run with, the owner of Rush Running, Mike Rush says to give them a call.
"That’s what we are here for and we have many people being a hub of Walmart in Northwest Arkansas that come into town and they call up the shop and say hey, where is a safe place to run, got anyone to run with. And then we’ll rattle off or even introduce them, give them numbers to local runners that they can jump in that group with," Rush said.
The Friday Wolfpack Running Group is dedicating its regularly scheduled morning run in honor of Fletcher Friday, Sept. 9. Click here for more information on the event.
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