Running to Remember Sherry Arnold

I’ve started this post several times but stopped, my feelings too conflicted to distill in 500 words.

On January 7, Sherry Arnold went for a run and didn’t come back, the only trace of her a single shoe by the road. According to news reports, two men have been charged with aggravated kidnapping in connection with her disappearance and Arnold is presumed dead. Her body has yet to be found.

That’s the stark and tragic account but it only tells a tiny bit about the end of Sherry’s life. It doesn’t tell her story. It doesn’t show the woman she was or the mother, wife and teacher her family and students remember. For a snippet about that wonderful woman, read this post by her cousin Beth on Beth’s Shut Up and Run blog.

As a tribute to Sherry’s courage, strength and grace, Beth has organized a virtual memorial run for Sherry on February 11, 9AM MST. To get more information about the run, print a bib or donate to the family, read this post.

I’ll be running. I didn’t know Sherry, but her story touches me deeply, as it’s touched so many runners. She’s part of my sisterhood.  Like Sherry, I’m a mother, a wife and a runner who hits the road, often alone.

I’ve thought of Sherry during almost every run in the past three weeks, some of them adrenaline-fueled races against myself as I’ve thought about the many dangers to runners, especially women, no matter how many precautions we take. I’ve imagined the many ways Sherry’s story might have ended differently, have ended later. But we can’t revise real life the way we might a blog post or piece of fiction. We also can’t predict how our own stories will end.

Each day we head out the door, whether it’s to drive carpool, go to work, meet a friend for coffee or squeeze in a quick run, we go with hope. We don’t expect to find tragedy on the stoop or around the corner. If we did, we’d never leave the house. We’d stop living or live in fear.

From what I’ve read, Sherry Arnold was a woman who lived and loved fully. Her story should inspire each of us to count our blessings and resolve to do the same – to stretch our legs, our lungs, our minds and our hearts, to embrace the ones we love and laugh or cry with them, to move forward.

On Feb 11, runners across the country, maybe even across the globe, will honor her life by running in her memory. Many of us never had the chance to meet this woman whose life was tragically cut short. Together, we grieve for her family and friends and pay tribute to Sherry’s courage, strength and grace.

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  • I hate that I can’t leave my house without having some creepy guy make some kind of lewd comment to me. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, it doesn’t matter where I am, and, most of the time, it doesn’t matter who I’m with. It scares me every single time.

    I have a constant fear of having my car break down on the side of the road/highway. I worry that some man will pull over and try to “help” me. I would obviously stay in my car, but I am totally bothered by the fact that a situation like that would come down to strength. While this is always in the back of my mind, something I have nightmares over, I still drive long distances by myself.

    I can’t help the fact that men are going to be disrespectful to me, but I can drive, stick up for myself, and try to change the ways in which women are viewed. I participate in online activism, I’m a member of NOW, and I absolutely vote!

    Thanks so much for writing this.

    Run, Jill, run! (I’m sure you get the Forrest Gump reference all of the time, but I had to do it anyway!).

  • Thanks Kelly, I’ve been fortunate to have a much better experience, which is probably why I continue to feel safe most of the time. I might also be overly optimistic. Still, we can’t sit back and hope the world will become a safer place. We have to make it a safer place. By the way, I wish I could run like Forest. He was fast.

  • colleen brewer

    Hi, the U.S. is definitely a poorer place without citizens and women like Sherry Arnold in it. Hopefully, women will sit up and take notice, how many kids and women are disappearing regularly now? It’s good not to get intimidated, but the sad fact is, we as women need to activate our safety senses and realize that we have to factor in the “safety factor” all the time now. We can’t go on cruise control anymore. We need to become smart, savvy, and skilled in our our self defense and for those for whom we are responsible. We can’t “go gentle into that good night” anymore! Rage against “the man” and resolve to survive, no matter what it takes.

  • Pingback: Running in the Rain for Sherry | 3Rs()

  • Wow, thanks for a loving post and a great reminder of how precious and fragile life is. I am so glad I “met” you. Heather

    • I’m so glad I “met” you too, Heather. Your blog is touching and thoughtful and refreshingly honest. I look forward to reading your book someday.

      • Thanks, Jill. It just went out today to publishers, so we’ll see what happens, if I get any takers. I was joking with my agent that if it sells, I’ll probably make ten cents an hour, given all the time I put in.:) Kind of funny. Let’s stay in touch. Heather