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Knoxville runners share safety tips after Memphis woman abducted early Friday morning

An expert said the time of day when the woman was out exercising is not uncommon, but may not have been the best time because it was still dark outside.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Running has been shown to have positive effects on a person's body and mental health. But some runners in Knoxville are urging people to take steps to stay safe if they plan to hit the trails.

The executive director of the Knoxville Track Club, David Black runs every day. So does Whitney Heins, the founder of The Mother Runners. After a woman was kidnapped while running early Friday morning in Memphis, they said runners should use caution while hitting the trails.

"For this to happen, it's just so tragic," said Black. "And it happens anywhere."

Eliza Fletcher, 34, was kidnapped early Friday morning while out for a jog near the University of Memphis. Authorities said an unknown person approached her and forced her into an SUV at around 4:30 a.m.

"My first thought was, 'This could easily have been me. This could easily have been any of my friends,'" said Heins. "You want to be alert."

Heins said the time of day when Fletcher was exercising is not uncommon for many runners, but may not have been the best time for hitting the trails because it was still dark outside.

She said if runners head out before the sun's up, they should stay in a familiar area.

"If I've had to run in the morning, I usually try to stay close to my house," said Fletcher. 

Black also said that when running, there is strength in numbers.

"I'm often telling people, 'Don't run alone.' I'm by no means blaming her. But, I tell people to get involved with a group," said Black. 

He also said it can be a good idea for runners to carry self-defense gear such, as a defender ring.

"It looks like a normal ring. It just has a rose top, but if you screw the top off, it's a sharp blade, and so you can use that as a weapon," he said.

Runners should also make sure to stay aware of their surroundings. They say runners should make always make eye contact with people who walk or run past. Listening to music while running may not be safe because runners always want to hear what is happening around them. 

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