‘If there were no men for a day, I would run at night’

Sarmistha Sen, of Plano, Texas, was killed while on a run the morning of August 1. She was found unresponsive by a witness near a trail she frequented two hours after she had left for her morning run, according to CNN.

Police quickly ruled the case a homicide and arrested the killer. As per reports, she used to run in the morning as she wanted to exercise before her kids woke up. Her family said that she did not run at night because of the danger of being a woman outside alone at night. Despite her taking that measure of running in the morning, she still got murdered in the trail right next to her house during the morning.

A lot of runners especially women runners were shaken by this news. Many female athletes expressed their fear and anger on a platform dedicated to running on Reddit. 

“I think I’m angry, actually. Angry that this woman was a victim. Angry that women can’t move about the world freely. Angry that she was doing something good for herself and was killed,” Reddit user Saynotoperfect wrote. 

It is no surprise that thread quickly got a lot of similar answers that makes one question the safety issues when it comes to women. It is also not surprising that the author’s post was removed at her request due to the harassing and threatening messages she was getting online.

Here are some of the experiences that women face while out running…

‘If there were no men for a day, I would run at night’

image of a woman running

Kkilch  – I saw a post that asked the question “What would you do if there were no men in the world for a day?” and immediately I thought about going for a run at night.

I lived in an area in a college town that had a beautiful walking path that was almost never empty. I learned that in the late ’90s there was a man that abducted and killed several women from this path.

I got a dog. I don’t take him on every run, but I really do feel much safer when he’s with me. I’ve also carried a can of pepper spray, but it just made me viscerally angry when I looked down and saw a little pink can of pepper spray, designed for women just like me. Because this is normal.

“Sometimes I wish I was invisible when I run”

Wallflower – Yesterday a man was running in front of me. A guy in a truck slowed down near a light and was staring at me. He definitely didn’t do that to the man in front of me. This was the second time it happened on my run! Then the guy in the truck definitely did not slow down to look at the man running. After that, he pulled into a gas station and turned around and came back towards me so I spent the next mile looking out for him. Sometimes I wish I was invisible when I run.

“It still pisses me off that one asshole changed my whole routine.”

I’ve never carried pepper spray and always felt safe in my neighborhood that I’ve lived in for over a decade. Someone very purposely followed me a few months ago and now I carry it with me all the time. I also finish most of my runs at my husband’s work instead of my house and he either walks back with me or drives me home. I know it’s better to be safe but It still pisses me off that one asshole changed my whole routine.

image of a woman running

” A man was ogling my breasts and smirking at me as I ran past”

Sleepyrats – I literally have just come back from a run where a man was ogling my breasts and smirking at me as I ran past. I just shouted “what the FUCK are you looking at?” at him and he turned away and pretended to not see me. It’s so fucking gross and makes me want to change my whole routine just to avoid seeing him again.

“I change my routes to prevent me from getting followed”

I always run with reflective gear, pepper spray, and change up my routes to ensure I’m seen while running, can protect myself if I get attacked, and to hopefully prevent me from getting followed lol) – Laura Buonocore

“MAYBE if I get kidnapped they’ll remember where I was at the trail or what I was wearing”

Mastermindofnone – This is absolutely repulsive. As a woman who is an active runner in Texas, I can agree that I have had many instances where I’ve been catcalled and made to be extremely uncomfortable by men on trails. When I run I make it a point to do a little wave or smile to other women on the trails so MAYBE if I get kidnapped they’ll remember where I was at the trail or what I was wearing. I also have my location settings turned on to my mom, sisters, and boyfriend. So if I die they better find my fit ass.

“He started yelling at me and calling me a fucking bitch”

Lava – So this was one specific guy who would park his car in a quieter area of the park I crossed through on my walk to work. He would catcall me every day and one day I stopped to take a picture of his license plate. He started yelling at me and calling me a fucking bitch. I called the cops and told them everything and they told me that if he didn’t do anything besides say something inappropriate as I was walking by, it didn’t warrant sending an officer. I ended up just changing my route to work.

This was also in Albany, NY which I think has a notoriously bad police force. My car was vandalized in the same area and another car had its windows broken. I asked the cop taking my info if there was a way to get the license plate info of the car that had most likely been robbed and he said “not my job.”

image of a woman running

” I wish I could run without fear of being raped, stalked, or murdered.”

Runner – I carry pepper spray with me on my runs but I still don’t feel totally secure. I wish I could run without fear of being raped, stalked, or murdered. But being catcalled and followed is a common occurrence when you’re a woman, and murders that are close to home like this really make you feel like it could have been you.

“I’ve had multiple men pull over and stop to talk to me when I’m running or walking”

Moonlitgardn – I’ve had multiple men pull over and stop to talk to me when I’m running or walking. Usually, they ask how many laps I do around the park I run at and want to know how long the distance is and stuff, but it’s still so weird to me. Like, I’m exercising dude. Leave me alone. Read the room. I don’t look cute at all when I run so I’m not trying to be full of myself or anything. I just never notice them do the same thing to the elderly men who walk around that same park.

” I felt gross for days and have not worn tight shorts since”

Okeyda – I remember when I lived in the US, I had shit like this happen all the time. Once a guy was following behind me for a while and I was so annoyed, I turned around and HE WAS FILMING ME. I shouted at him and walked towards him, but he ran off. I felt gross for days and have not worn tight shorts or light-colored tights since. It’s soccer shorts or thick, black running pants, only.

On a walking break, I had a man come up behind me and pull my pants and underwear down and then run away when I turned around and screamed. I now carry a bright pink mace with a wrist band that goes in my hand and can be used against an aggressor immediately. The world is still dangerous for women, but having that in my hand makes me feel secure enough to go on runs on trails.

image of a woman running

“As a 21-year-old black woman, there are so many things keeping me from going on a run alone”

Toomanyplants – When I ran with my high school cross country team, with our male coach who was at least 6’4”, people would honk and yell at us from cars. At least half the comments were sexualized or just scary. Now as a 21-year-old black woman, there are so many things keeping me from going on a run alone. I’m scared of being targeted for my skin color and my gender. It’s so frustrating that I’m held back from fully enjoying a sport that I love.

Saynotoperfect – “If there were no men for a day I would run at night. I would run on trails

Honestly, this is so heartbreaking that we are still living in a world where a woman feels unsafe to pursue a random fitness activity. EVERY female faces this kind of assault and violation of her private space, no matter which country. When will this end? How will this end? Why are women still so unsafe? When are we going to build a society where girls feel safe? It should not be a norm that women feel afraid of running or walking alone, whether that’s at night or at any time of the day. Sadly, we have no answer to these questions. But we live in hope.

Arti Danihttp://storyoffitness.info
Arti Dani is a journalist by trade, a traveling runner with 5 international marathons, one ultra marathon under her belt. 100 push-ups a day is a simple job for her, even though she's still working to perfect her headstand skills.
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