Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah runners are speaking up about safety following the death of Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher.
The 34-year-old teacher was kidnapped and killed earlier this month during an early morning run. Members of the running group "Women of the Wasatch" said Fletcher's story is one they can relate to.
"Four thirty a.m. was the time that she could fit in her run before she went to teach kids, and 5:30 is my time," runner Monika Hoke said.
Nicole Hamic said Fletcher's tragic death started a conversation on the trails and running routes.
"We have to, I think especially as women, stand up for being protected, help people know how to feel comfortable out there so you can continue to push yourself," she said.
In their running group, they talk about supplies they bring and steps they take to stay safe while running. They keep first aid kits on hand, pepper spray gel, water, snacks, reflective vests, sounding alarms and geographic trackers.
"I always try to wear bright colors or a lot of colors, and I say 'hi' to everyone I pass," longtime runner Caroline Page said.
Hamic said she always tells her husband where she's going and when she expects to get back. She encourages women to do the same with their partner or a friend. Hoke said she uses a headlamp during her early morning runs.
"I put it on ultra-bright mode when I'm at a road and I wiggle it at people," she said.
The runners said they mourn the loss of an innocent woman's life, but carry on her legacy by finishing her run.
"There's never a time for us to throw in the towel and to stop doing what we love," Hamic said.
The runners said their community is loud, and they're calling on the men to speak up about safety, too.
"I do wish that there was more vocalization from the male community because they're responsible as well for maintaining a safe environment," Hoke said.