Ever go for a run and wonder if you’ll make it back? Of course not. You put on your run gear, tie your laces, head out the door, and start your watch. During the run you probably think about things you’ll do when you get home. I know I do. Perhaps Sherry Arnold was thinking about what she had planned for the day when she started her run at 6:30am January 7th. She never made it back.
I’m not trying to be dramatic or fill your head with thoughts about things you’d rather not think about. But these are the thoughts I’ve had since Sherry’s disappearance exactly a month ago. On runs long and short, with and without friends, I’ve thought about what happened to Sherry. I’ve thought about running safety and things we’re told not to do, like run alone, run in the dark, run the same route at the same time, things that we all do because we don’t believe we should be restricted in this way. Things we do because we don’t think what happened to Sherry will happen to us.
Here’s the thing. Sherry wasn’t killed because she was running alone, in the dark, on a route she ran all the time. She was killed because she had the misfortune to cross paths with two monsters. They weren’t local…they’d driven all the way to Sidney, Montana, from Colorado. They didn’t know she’d be out running alone, early in the morning, or that she ran this route on a regular basis.
Sherry went missing about a mile from her house.Â I consider the area around my home pretty safe. Maybe I’m disillusioned. I consider a mile from my house, in any direction, a safe area to run. Familiar places tend to feel safe. But I’m looking at them a little differently now.
Last week Run Wiki and I met up for a trail run. After our wonderful 9 mile adventure, we were standing chatting next to our cars when she suddenly said, “Get in the car.” I knew from her voice not to ask questions, and we both jumped in the car and locked the doors. Out of the corner of her eye she’d noticed a guy wandering along the treeline of the parking lot, looking out of place. From the safety of the car he looked relatively harmless, but I was glad for her quick thinking, just in case.
Just in case…
I wonder if anyone has changed their running routine because of whatâ€™s happened to Sherry. Last week I ran a route that I had run before with a group. The road is new and closed to cars at one end. While running I realized that what had seemed nice and peaceful in a group was just a bit too remote for me on my own. I wonâ€™t run that route again without company, just in case.
If anything good can come out of such a senseless tragedy as this itâ€™s a heightened awareness. News of Sherryâ€™s disappearance spread very quickly, thanks to her cousin, Beth Risdonâ€™s blog, Shut Up and Run. Beth suggested in a post that sheâ€™d like to organize a virtual run for Sherry, and the response has been, in Bethâ€™s words, â€œoverwhelming.â€
On Saturday, February 11th, people from all over the country will run, walk, bike, swim, etc. for Sherry. My running club, South Riding Running Club, is dedicating our regular Saturday morning run to Sherry, and my triathlon club, Team Tri Performance Racing, is dedicating our annual Valentineâ€™s Relay to her. Weâ€™ll run wearing bibs designed by Beth to quite simply, remember Sherry.
You can print out a bib by clicking on the image below. If you’d like to donate to a fund set up for Sherry’s children, you can do that here.
Are you joining the virtual run?