Woman shares the terrifying story of why she doesn't go running alone anymore
I surely wouldn't be reaching if I said that every woman out there has, at one time or another, felt at danger because of her gender. Unfortunately, having two X chromosomes often means that you can't do certain things alone, or if you do, you feel concerned about doing them by yourself. One of these things that hardly anyone discusses is running.
The risks of a woman running alone recently came to the attention of the media when Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student, was murdered by a man who followed her as she jogged on July 18, 2018.
Surveillance camera footage showed Cristhian Rivera drive behind the 20-year-old girl in his Chevrolet Malibu as she ran in her home city of Brooklyn, Iowa. More than a month after her death, the 24-year-old confessed, leading police to her body in a secluded location within a cornfield.
Tibbetts' killing became a topic of controversy when US talk show host Wayne Allyn Roo seemingly blamed her for her own murder, saying: "Why are you jogging outdoors? Go get a treadmill and watch TV and jog. Why are you jogging outdoors where there’s a chance some crazy person can attack you?"
Now a reporter at the Huffington Post has taken to Twitter to share the reason she no longer goes running alone, highlighting the fact that violence against women is rife and never their fault.
In the wake of Tibbetts' murder, Alanna Vagianos has claimed that she no longer runs and keeps a baseball bat by her bed after numerous terrifying incidents.
She begins by stating that running was the "best form of self-care" she knew and she used it to combat her depression. "I didn’t always love running. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized just how helpful it was for my mental health... When I got depressed, instead of smoking a cigarette I would run (err, most of the time). I put my headphones in, spandex shorts and t-shirt on, and I would run circles in a small neighbourhood off campus," she wrote.
However, Vagianos' safety net was ripped away from her when a man attempted to break into her first-floor bedroom window and climb into bed with her. Afterwards, she contacted the police who asked if she was a runner and if she ran the same route a lot. "I didn’t realize running the same route could cost me the peace of mind of being able to sleep on a first floor ever again," she wrote in the viral social media post.
The reporter moved to L.A. afterwards and started running every single day to help her mental health. Choosing to run a different route every time, she ran uninterrupted for months, however, things changed when she later moved to New York.
Taking the same route for six days in the row, on the seventh night, someone tried to break into her second-floor apartment bedroom via the fire escape. On Twitter, Vagianos stated she did not know whether the break-in happened because "some random person thought my window was the easiest to get into or if it’s bc I ran the same route six days in a row [sic]."
However, she implies that it certainly could have been the reason for the second break-in, claiming she has never run alone since. The reporter also stresses that "the lengths that women have to go to protect themselves from being alone in public spaces is restrictive, exhausting, f*cking terrifying."
In addition, Vagianos highlights other women's experiences of running alone, concluding: "Tibbetts had every right to run on her own. This is not a commentary on her actions, but a reflection on how the epidemic of violence against women (yes, it's a fucking epidemic) forces women to adapt and let go of things so integral to their well-being... I live on the 29th floor now. I keep a baseball bat by my bed. I still don’t sleep very well. And I don’t really run anymore."
Thanks for sharing your story, Alanna. Stay safe out there, female runners.