Imagine leaving your house, expecting to return but never making it home.
Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa, went on a run but never finished it. She was found dead on August 21, 2018.
Christhian Rivera told authorities that he followed Tibbetts in his car while she was running. After he began to run behind and later alongside her, she threatened to call the police. Rivera claimed to have “blacked out.” When he “came to,” he put wounded Tibbetts in his trunk and placed her in a corn field. According to CBS News, the Iowa State Medical Examiner concluded her death was a “homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries.” Her body was found under corn stalks.
After Tibbetts’s devastating passing, the hashtag #MilesforMollie went viral on social media. Her hometown community and others on social media wanted to honor her memory by dedicating their runs to her.
On Sunday, August 26, participants around the United States ran in honor of Mollie, taking photos from their run and route and posting them online in her memory.
Tibbetts’s murder was not a “freak accident.” She is one of many women who have been murdered while running. For example, in 2016, there were two high-profile murder cases in regards to females running alone in the United States.
The underlying issue is the institutionalized lack of respect for women. As the public sphere continues to be dominated by males, some men catcall, harass and attack women to display their unequal power in attempts to gain respect from other men.
According to Runners World’s “Running While Female”, 58 percent of women under 30 have experienced frequent harassment while running. The article also reports that 30 percent of women have reported being followed by someone while running.
I run to release stress and feel unrestricted. As much as I enjoy it, it is mentally exhausting. My heart rapidly beats at the sound of an unusual noise, and I quickly peer behind to see if a person or car is following me. It feels draining to be vigilant on every run.
Women deserve to run without fear of not returning home. As long as women continued to be constantly degraded, objectified and assaulted, I will continue to wear baggy shirts and carry my phone on runs in hopes of staying safe.