Female runners must endure comments yelled by passing motorists along city streets. It’s a disturbingly common part of life for female athletes, and it’s in the spotlight after the deaths of three women attacked while engaged in sports they love, the Associated Press reports. The killings raised alarms about how women can defend themselves and why they must be ready to fight off attackers. On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Wendy Martinez, 35, was attacked as she went for a run. She was stabbed in what was likely a random attack. A day earlier, Iowa State University golf star Celia Barquin Arozamena was stabbed to death in a random attack while golfing by herself in broad daylight near campus in Ames, Ia. That attack came after the body of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was killed near her hometown of Brooklyn, Ia. She had disappeared after going for a run.
Tibbetts’ death prompted an outpouring from runners on social media under the hashtag #MilesforMollie. Women shared experiences of being harassed and followed and vowed to keep running as a show of defiance. An Iowa meeting to discuss safety issues drew 200 women to hear from police and share best practices on how to stay safe while running alone. Kathleen Meek urged women to “know what’s going (on) around you so you can be confident in what you’re doing.” Other suggestions included using the buddy system, joining a running club and informing others of intended routes should something go wrong. Des Moines police spokesman Paul Parizek warned women to know their abilities should they find themselves in danger. “There’s a lot of conversation now … do I need a gun? Do I need a stun gun? Pepper spray? … Well, that depends on what you’re willing to do, what you think you need to do and what you’re capable of doing,” he said.