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My run should not result in my murder

By Alexandra Balsamo

As a female runner, I note everything related to running. New shoes with the best arch support, whether low-rise shorts or high-rise shorts make for a more comfortable run and, of course, how safe my surroundings are. Being a female runner isn’t as easy as just being a runner; it offers a whole host of challenges that can be detrimental to our well-being. 

This past February, University of Georgia student Laken Hope Riley was murdered on her run. Riley did everything that women runners are told to do: run in a popular spot, run on her campus and share her location. Yet, while doing all this, she was still killed. 

Riley isn’t the first woman to be murdered on her run. A year ago, Eliza Fletcher was murdered when she went on her daily run. Sydney Sutherland, Wendy Martinez and Mollie Tibbets are among other names of women who have fallen victim to being slaughtered while partaking in regular activities that people should feel safe to do. 

Many people’s first reaction to hearing these stories is to blame the victim. 

“Why was she running alone,” “She was running without mace,” or “Why was she running at 4:30 am anyways?”. These narratives are harmful and toxic to the running community and female community, and should be shut down immediately. The fact that multiple women are getting murdered for participating in a hobby and then getting backlash for it is insane and a significant part of the problem. There is no reason that anyone should be killed on their run; no amount of questions or blaming will ever make it just.

Looking at a list of people who have been murdered on their runs since 2018, sixteen of them were female, while three of them were male. Why is being a woman so dangerous? Why do we have to exist, constantly looking behind us? Why do we have to live with one earbud in instead of both, just in case someone tries to attack us?

As a female runner, I have always been told not to run alone, tell people when I’m on a run and try to run at a gym on a treadmill instead of outside alone because of the dangers. This narrative is precisely what fellow female runners hear all the time. Who cares how fast you can run a mile if you can’t outrun a murderer? But why are women taught to be ten times more cautious just existing instead of preaching that women aren’t objects? Why isn’t it taught to everyone that you can’t kidnap a woman, rape and murder her? Why is the natural narrative that women have to be careful?

There is a societal problem that is occurring with the correlation between women runners and women being murdered. How can we claim to promote gender equality if women can’t freely run around their college campuses? If women aren’t safe in broad daylight in a popular area, where are we safe? This narrative needs to be discussed more: women’s runs should not result in their murder.

Alexandra Balsamo is staff writer for The Bucknellian, the student-led independent newspaper of Bucknell University.

This column first appeared in The Bucknellian on March 29, 2024 and was republished here with permission.

1,303 views4 comments


I "feel" the frustration and angst in this piece, but if we could "tell" and "teach" people you can't kidnap, rape, or murder that would be a grand and glorious outcome. Problem is that some people with severe mental health disorders don't respond to being told or taught they can't do something.

Replying to

So do men who attempt to physically impose themselves on women ,drag their names through the mud when a woman seeks redress for rape, make excuses for rape, attempt to silence them by threats and slander, lie about their aberrant behavior.

A bullet in particular in the organ by which they define themselves is quite effective.

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