On January 7, 2012, 43-year-old Sherry Arnold left her house in Montana for an early morning run…and never came home. Two months of searching, hunting, and investigating later, the whole story emerged: Briefly, two men (she didn’t know), high on some illegal substance, abducted her just a mile from her home, then killed her and dumped her body in a shallow grave. [More lengthy story is available here.]
This story tore through the US running community last winter, as we all grieved with Sherry’s husband, children, students, friends, family, and community. We grieved for her, and for them, and also because we’d never run quite as freely on the road alone, with only the sunrise, and the sound of our own footfalls.
I followed this story through Sherry’s cousin, Beth, the blogger behind Shut Up And Run (SUAR). SUAR’s usual content is hilarious and relatable, but things got serious last winter as she shared Sherry’s story, and her own journey through grief, and began discussions of how we solo runners can stay safe(r). Ultimately, SUAR organized a Virtual Run For Sherry of Feb. 11, 2012, and over 30,000 people around the world participated. KMN and I were visiting Singapore at the time, and I wrote about our run here. If you’re too lazy to click over, here’s a short excerpt of what I wrote then:
“I was running to grieve. I was mourning the loss of Sherry’s life, as well as the innocence, security, and comfort that were lost in her attack.
I was running because I believe that a run should be a refuge, a lesson, an escape, and a passion – but never a burden, a fear, or a prison.
I was running to feel powerful. Baseless and random violence leaves a feeling of helplessness in its wake. Moving forward (literally and figuratively), under the power of my own body, was a small step toward regaining a feeling of control.
I was running because I train outside, by myself, in the dark, at 6 AM and 8 PM.
I was running to feel strong, and to send that strength to Sherry’s friends, co-workers, students, running club, family, husband, and children.”
The Second Annual Virtual Run for Sherry will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9. SUAR wrote about it here. The goals are two-fold:
1. To honor Sherry, and others who have been similarly attacked, by getting as much good mojo (love, kindness, friendship, energy) going in their memory as we possibly can.
2. To celebrate our promise to run safely, but not fearfully.
Participating in this virtual event is very, very easy:
1. Organize with some friends, family, or running club members to meet somewhere on Saturday (or, heck, even Sunday if Saturday doesn’t work).
2. Print out a bib (donated by Races 2 Remember) for yourselves here. If rain/snow threaten and you want to make the bib sturdier, “laminate” it with clear packing tape.
3. GO (walk, run, hike, rollerblade, windsurf, whatever).
While I’m fortunate now to live in the (relatively) safe haven of Singapore, where I can walk almost anywhere, at pretty much any time of day, without even my husband worrying about me – this is a privilege most people don’t enjoy. Singaporeans, Sherry’s story may feel disconnected and distant, something that involves those crazy Americans. I truly have no idea how to help you relate. But please, please, please – be thankful for the safety of your country. The freedom to walk around, secure in your safety, is incredibly liberating.
So we’ll be doing our Virtual Run for Sherry on Saturday morning (Feb. 9) at 7:30 at MacRitchie Reservoir. We’ll be starting from the Mushroom Cafe and doing one loop of the reservoir (10-11 km). I know it’s a bit last minute, but if you live and run in Singapore, you are welcome to come join us. Just look for the tall ang moh girl with the race bib on (she looks just like the one you see plastered all over this blog). This will be super casual, un-timed, un-supported, friendly run. If 10 km is too far for you, come anyway and we’ll do two shorter loops, back through the start point. Hope to see you there!
And to everyone else who’ll be running for Sherry: Stay Warm, Be Safe, and Keep Running!