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What It’s Like Being a Female Runner After Mollie Tibbets

On July 18, 2018, Mollie Tibbets went for a run. She had been running in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa just like she had done numerous times before. Mollie left at around 7:30 pm to go for her jog and on July 19, 2018, she was reported missing. On August 21, 2018, her body was found in the middle of a field. She was in her home, doing what she loved and now is gone. Later this year on September 18th, another woman who was just engaged was murdered while doing her usual, jogging, in a town where she had lived for years. Sadly, these are just two examples of crimes that happen more frequently than they can be counted. Neither of these women provoked their attacker, neither was doing anything wrong, they just wanted to peacefully exercise.

Here, in 2018, I, as a runner, am tired of being weary. I am tired of having to carry my key on my wrist as a weapon in case someone tries to hurt me. I am tired of hearing gross calls made while I am trying to exercise and not being able to say anything for fear of retaliation. I am tired of (not just myself, but all women) being frightened of being alone past busy, daylight hours.

When I run, I, along with my key-converted weapon, carry an Apple watch for my safety. With the swipe of my finger, my watch can call the police and notify my parents of an SOS – and I solely wear it when I run because I am scared of the ‘what if’. After Mollie, after Ally Breuger, after every woman who has gone out and not came back, I now have a device that allows me to call the police from my wrist.

“Run only when the sun is shining.” “Make sure you run in a populated area!” “I don’t know if jogging down a trail is a good idea, I would avoid it.” These are all words I can hear echoing in my head from my parents and sadly, they are right. My dad runs thirteen miles every other day, and the majority of the time his runs take place in the dark. He comes back perfectly fine, never concerned about his safety. Could I ever do that? Would I want my sister to ever take off at that time? The answer is no. Our society needs to wake up, and women need to stop having to limit their lives in even such a small way as this because it is 2018.

Violence against women is just as real now like every other decade but yet we continue to say how much we have improved. Yes, I am thankful for every right that women before me have fought to have and wish I could thank those women in person, but the one right we still seem to not have is our right to our own lives. Thoughts, like carrying a key, or readily being able to call the police, are not just applicable to running, they are now daily thoughts as women leave work, walk from their cars or even go outside to let their pet out. We as a society need to do better, and we need to teach the next generation to do better. Women should be able to be just as independent as men – to not be afraid of the dark because you know the monsters aren’t just cartoon characters anymore but they are real people.

To all my girls out there who do find their peace in running, keep going. Be safe and be aware of your surroundings. Let others know where you will be and when you will be back. Know that your fear is valid and that the world needs to take a look at itself.

Abby Davies

South Carolina '22

U of SC '22. Public Health major.
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