Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Lessons from Chelsea

I am so saddened by the story of the high school cross-country runner who recently went missing while out on a run in a San Diego park. Apparently, her body has been found and police believe she was raped and murdered while out doing something she loved. My heart goes out to her family and friends. Such a sad sad thing.

It is such a shame that women have to be fearful of running outside alone. It makes me so angry that there are such horrible people out there preying on others. I try not to be afraid of doing something I love, but how can I not be after hearing horrible stories like this one. The one thing that helps a teeny-tiny bit is that maybe there is something we women runners can learn from what happened to Chelsea King. I am very curious how the predator who did this to her operated so we can avoid something similar happening to us.

In the meantime, we can try to practice the usual safety precautions when we're out there alone:

- switching up our routes
- switching up the times we run
- running when others we know are also running at the same park
- running during times when the park is heavily populated
- not wearing headphones and otherwise staying alert
- trusting our instincts
- running on trails where we know how to quickly get out into the open if we need to
- notifying others where we'll be and how long we expect to be gone
- carrying a charged cell phone
- carrying a whistle or pepper spray

But if someone is a real predator and really wants to take out a female runner, is there anything we can do to protect ourselves short of not running alone outside at all?


Angela and David Kidd said...

Before moving to San Diego, Chelsea and her family lived not too far from me outside of Chicago so the story is getting a lot of press here. It's truly horrible and sad and makes me so angry. Thanks for blogging about it and drawing more attention to what happened. I hope actions are taken to ensure the safety of female runner's in Chelsea's name.

Sara said...

Awful. Just awful.

I grew up in Bay and witnessed first hand how a violent kidnapping and death affects a family and a community. It has arguably made me quite a paranoid person. Even though Amy Mihaljevic was contacted by her killer before it happened so it wasn't quite as random per se, it still has always made me think twice about how easy it is to be lulled into a false sense of security. And I hate that it crosses my mind so much still to this day, 21 years later. But you're right--it is the world we live in.

Viper said...

How terrible. Your safety measures are sound advice for any runner.

Katie said...

What happened to Chelsea makes me so angry.

Very long (and proabably boring to everyone but me) story:

I live and work in a big city (Chicago) and consider myself pretty careful when I run. Last fall I was running home from work and passed a group of teenagers. No big deal. But then, about 30 seconds later, I had this sensation that someone was running up behind me. It frightened me. I stop and turn around it's one of the high school kids. He's imitating me. I was pissed. Sure, I have a sense of humor and I bet I look like a dork when I'm running, but seriously? The kid was like 4 inches from me. I thought, for a moment, he was trying to touch/grab/hit/assault me. When I realized he was just being a teenage d-bag, I yelled at him. Railed into him about leaving me the eff alone, about going back to his d-bag friends, etc. He was shocked and his friends thought I was hilarious. Some sweaty, out of breath, crazy 30 year lady calling a hipster kid a d-bag.

I was so pissed. Don't kids realize that I've been conditioned (by society, by news, by terrible things happening to women and girls) to fear people coming up behind me (quietly) when I'm running? Why would you sneak up on someone unless you wanted an elbow to the nuts?

I'm still pissed about this six months later.

Paige said...

great post. what a horrible story.

just wanted to add another precaution -- for those who long runs online, don't include details of running routes. many logs are relatively public.

Michelle Simmons said...

Oh that's awful. I have not seen that story on the news here. What is wrong with people???

Mindi said...

I feel the same way. Very upsetting My heart is out to her and her family. :(