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Local runners fearing for their safety

Posted: 10:58 PM, Sep 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-21 03:50:44Z

On Thursday, D.C. Police arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Greenacres woman.

Wendy Martinez, 35, was jogging Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C. when a man came up and stabbed her multiple times in the Logan Circle neighborhood.

Police arrested Anthony Crawford, 23, in connection with the stabbing and charged him with first-degree murder. Crawford was taken into custody late Wednesday evening by the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.

The tragic deaths of Martinez and other recent attacks across the country have runners in our area thinking about their safety.

"You just have to be cautious, you have to look around where you're at," said MaryEllen Eddy, who has been hitting her stride and running for nearly five years.

Eddy is part of the Fit2Run running group. Each week, men and women pound the pavement around the Wellington Mall, but the recent deadly attacks on women jogging are raising concerns. Alex Vega is now fearful for his girlfriend.

"It's definitely making me, every time she runs, make sure I'm there or someone is there, or she can bring a companion to make it a lot safer," Vega said.

Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old University of Iowa student disappeared in July during an evening jog and her body was found weeks later. In the Martinez case, D.C. Police are calling it an unprovoked attack.
"There's bad people in the world, it's sad," said Margaret Brannock, who helps organize the running group.

That's why Fit2Run makes its runners check in and check out on a whiteboard. Brannock drops off water for them halfway through the route, and she keeps a close eye on them from her truck. The general manager at Fit2Run is also constantly making changes to the route.

"In the winter-time we change the course because it's just not safe to run around the mall because it's too dark," said Brenda Browning, who started the running group seven years ago. "My concern is people are always watching."

Browning said it's always a good idea to grab a buddy and never run alone, especially at night or in the early morning. Also, don't ever run in an area you're not familiar with, and let a friend or loved-one know before you leave.

Eddy says when she can't join the group, she keeps her runs close to home.

"If I run by myself, I usually run by my neighborhood," Eddy said.