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Michelle Turnberg, Published January 20 2012

Turnberg: Safety fears bring to end solo running

I am disgusted and heartsick over the events that have unfolded near Sidney, Mont.

The FBI says Sherry Arnold, 43, was kidnapped Jan. 7 during an early morning run near her home. Authorities speculate that Arnold is dead, although nothing but a running shoe turned up. They still haven’t found her body, but “narrowed it down” to Montana or North Dakota.

Arnold was a working, married mother of two, and stepmother of three.

This woman could just as easily be any of my running friends, or me.

How many times have I or other friends gone out for a run at 6:30 in the morning? Too many to count. I imagine that Arnold’s morning jogging routine was a peaceful and positive way for her to begin her day, just as it is for so many. The notion of a threat likely never entered her mind.

Sadly, this serves as a reminder for us, especially women, to think of all possibilities whenever venturing alone.

Sidney is a small town of 5,000 people. The community has grown recently, due to the oil boom. Many of us from small towns or rural areas tend to be trusting; her incident is a stinging reminder of how important it is to keep up our guard.

Over the past 20 or more years, I’ve felt scared for my safety three times while running: once in Fargo and twice out in the country near my home town, which is even smaller than Sidney.

There won’t be a next time.

Perhaps the best defense is a good offense. I’ll trade in the solitude of the run for the company of others or the safety of my own home.

When the details of this senseless crime come out, I can only hope those responsible get what’s coming to them.

I pray the family of Sherry Arnold finds peace, and this tragedy can somehow help to prevent another.

Michelle Turnberg writes a weekly column for SheSays.