Women speak out about safety while running following death of Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher

Saturday, September 10, 2022
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"Eliza is all of us," said one experienced runner. "We've all been there at 4 a.m. or midnight, and I'm a Memphian also, so it really hit me hard."

MOBILE, Ala. -- It's been nearly one week since Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher was abducted and murdered on her morning run, and it's leaving the nation rattled. Both sides of the bay banded together to raise awareness: women shouldn't live in fear of jogging alone.

Some Mobile and Fairhope women are hosting two separate runs bright and early Friday morning to in essence 'finish Eliza's run.' Both start at 4:20 a.m., which is the exact time Eliza was abducted.

"Because we have so many other responsibilities with jobs or family or whatever, we're forced to make the choice to run in the dark, either early in the morning or late in the evening," said Susan Gaston-Jones, coordinator of the Mobile run. "Right now, it's early in the morning because down south, it's so hot."

Gaston-Jones knew she wanted to do something. As a runner herself, she decided to finish Eliza's run and invite everyone to join.

At 4 a.m. Friday, she's gathering runners, walkers, and supporters at the Mitchell Center at the University of South Alabama and finishing the remaining 8.2 miles of Liza's run down Old Shell Road, to I-65, then ending again at the Mitchell Center.

"We just want to honor her," said Gaston-Jones. "She was doing the thing she loved, and because she was a momma, and a wife, and a teacher, she had to do that training run in the early morning when it was dark. That's still not to say because she ran by herself that it was her fault. That's not true."

Across the bay, Cindy Carter and Ann Rush are honoring Liza the same way. Their two-mile run also starts at 4:20 a.m. in front of Running Wild on Section Street in downtown Fairhope. The route will lead down Fairhope Avenue, to the pier, and end back where it started.

For these two experienced runners, Eliza's story sounded familiar.

"Eliza is all of us," said Carter. "We've all been there at 4 a.m. or midnight, and I'm a Memphian also, so it really hit me hard, and I thought this would be great to do in Fairhope."

They reminded others to never pass the blame.

"I've heard this so many times or seen this comment on the articles, and it's like 'why was she running at this time in the morning? She should know better,'" said Rush. "We should never put that blame on a victim. That's our right. It's not his right or someone else's right to take that away or take her life away."

In Mobile, there is an alternate option for those who cannot do the full 8.2 miles. Gaston-Jones says at 4:40 a.m., participants can start at Maple Street Biscuit on Old Shell, and it's half the distance.

All coordinators said this is welcome for everyone to walk, run, or just show your support for Eliza Fletcher and her family.

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