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What safety looks like for passionate Omaha runners following the abduction, killing of Memphis teacher

Posted at 7:58 PM, Sep 07, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Ten years of running: local runner Hilary Catron never really worried about heading out early in the morning.

"I just said 'no' and I never really considered it. But I've been training in martial arts since I was 16 and so, in my head, I always felt like, 'Well I have what I need if something were to happen,'" Catron said.

And now she teaches self-defense to other female runners in the area.

"I feel running is a release. Running is a way to relieve stress. Running is a way to get away from the burdens of the day and it's very hard to do that if, in the back of your head, you don't feel like it's a safe place to be," Catron said.

She says being aware and following your gut is key, something Omaha Police Uniform Patrol Officer Jackie Sheets echoed.

"I think as a female, it's kind of, I have always kind of had those insights or thoughts, that I just — I am aware of my surroundings," Sheets said.

These runners suggest bringing things like your phone, having your headphones at a low volume or maybe just wearing one and bringing some sort of protective device like pepper spray.

Catron said that instead of pepper spray, she carries a different self-defense tool.

"So you can put it in your hands and it's very easy to carry and it just, to me, keeps a little beep in my brain that I don't completely let go and I stay aware — that I need to keep something with me," Catron said.

Catron said hearing the news of Eliza Fletcher in Memphis has been hard to process and is felt in the Omaha running community.

"I think it's just a sad reminder that, you know, we do have to be aware and we sometimes do have to be responsible for other people's actions by taking actions ourselves, just to be safe," Catron said.

Both runners said they will continue to run while being extra aware.

Catron suggests having conversations. Tell people where you are going and when they should expect you back.

Catron's self-defense classes are held a couple of times per year at the Peak Performance running store on 78th and Cass Streets and they will be posted on the Peak Performance website. You can also request a self-defense class for your group or organization by reaching out to Hilary Catron on Facebook or by leaving your information with the Peak Performance store and she will get back in contact with you.

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