I love my town. I love running in my town. There are hills. There are fields. I can go a mile from my house and be out in the country, where the only sounds are those of the birds and cows. I love that there are roads where I can go for miles without seeing a car. I have run down a country road with a deer. (Yes. It freaked me out a bit, but still, that is pretty cool.)
My town isn’t just great because of all the wonderful places to run, but also the people. There is a great running community here. The people in my town who run genuinely want each runner they see, to have the best run of their day…the best training of their season, and to do well in their next event. I love running down the street and have people I know honking at me, waving at me and cheering me on. I love my town. However, my love changed forever on Friday. My love is now tinged with a bit of fear.
At 5:45am on Friday morning, someone I know was attacked while on her way to meet her running partner. She heard the person running up behind her, and as she turned around, the assailant hit her with a bat. She put her arm up to protect herself and suffered a broken arm, went down and hit her face. She was able to get up and run away, jumping a fence into a nearby yard. No one was home, so she stayed in the yard until it was light out and went to a friend’s house. She is OK…well, as OK as someone who was just attacked can be.
This incident has forever altered the town I live in. The entire running community has been affected by this one creep. While on my run yesterday, every car, every person on the street was a potential threat. Every house I passed was potentially the home of the attacker. I shied away from my favorite road to run because it was out in the country and instead stayed on the roads with lots of cars and houses.
It will be hard to feel safe until he is caught. But, I often wonder if the running community – hell, our community as a whole will ever feel completely safe again.