The death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbets is bringing to light concerns for female runners.
Investigators said Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing Tibbets, was seen following her in his car as she jogged on a rural road.
DCI Special Agent Rick Rahn told reporters at a news conference Thursday that Rivera followed Tibbets around for a little bit, confronted her, ended up tackling her, and ultimately abducted her.
A Runners World survey highlights the challenges women face when running. It states that while the likelihood of being murdered mid-run is low, 43 percent of women at least sometimes experience harassment on a run, compared with four percent of men.
According to the survey, 30 percent of women runners said they have been followed by a person in a vehicle, on a bicycle, or on foot. Eighteen percent of women runners said they have been sexually propositioned, and three percent of women runners said they have been grabbed, groped, or otherwise physically assaulted.
Paula Pridgen, a member of the Charlotte Running Club, said she has dealt with “cat-calls” while on runs but never felt physically threatened.
“It’s very frustrating,” Pridgen said. “It makes me feel better that I can still run faster than most of these guys that are cat-calling me.”
She said she’s not going to let the fear of what could happen keep her from running.
"I'm not going to not go for a run just because something happened somewhere,” Pridgen said. “You know I think it's fortunate it doesn't happen that often."
Pridgen suggested runners be aware of their surroundings, turn around if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, or run with a group of people.
CMPD Crime Prevention Officer Johnathan Frisk echoed those suggestions, adding that runners should lower their music, consider carrying pepper spray, or run during daylight hours when more people may be around.
"A lot of times, criminals, if they want to target somebody, they don't want there to be witnesses,” Frisk said, “so typically they would try to go after one person compared to two, three, or even four people."
Police also encouraged runners to let someone else know their location and call 911 or notify an officer if uncomfortable on a greenway or trail.
"We do have a large presence out there,” Frisk said. “We want to make sure people visibly see us and you know make sure they feel safe."