April 16, 2024

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Thousands of runners rally around US to ‘Finish Eliza’s Run’

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Runners share a moment of silence before the start of "Finish Eliza's Run" on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The approximately four mile run was to memorialize, Eliza Fletcher, the Memphis runner, and mother of two, who was murdered during her early morning run. (Robin Rudd /Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Thousands of people in cities across the U.S. finished Eliza’s run Friday morning.

The runs were organized as a tribute to Eliza Fletcher, who was forced into a vehicle after a struggle during her pre-dawn run last Friday in Memphis, Tennessee. A suspect was swiftly identified and has been charged with her kidnapping and murder.

The killing of the 34-year-old kindergarten teacher and mother of two shocked people nationwide, and was particularly upsetting to women runners. An obituary described Fletcher as a “born athlete” who enjoyed spending time outside with husband and children.

Many female athletes fear working out alone, at night or in secluded places, and while crime statistics show such killings are exceedingly rare, many report being harassed or worse, even in well-populated areas.

In response, groups of runners decided to “Finish Eliza’s Run” in the pre-dawn darkness Friday morning, a week after her slaying. Many wore pink tops and purple shorts in her honor. Groups ran in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and many other cities and towns around the country. Hundreds logged their runs on a website dedicated to the event.

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