Contributed by Kelly Curtis
When I saw the white Suburban, I knew it was a mistake crossing the last road and continuing south on the railroad tracks. Still, the evening’s golden light across the alfalfa fields, the purple sky, and the fresh air beckoned me. I was in a new town, still learning the streets and the best places to run, and trying to avoid the California desert’s mid-day heat.
I gave a curt wave to the men in the SUV and wondered if men get irritated with women who dismiss them without so much as a glance. I double-checked they continued to fly down the road away from me. I plowed forward on the tracks, determined to work off two candy bars from earlier in the day.
It wasn’t twenty yards later when my skin began to tingle. Call it intuition. If those men turned around and drove the tracks, they could catch me in seconds. I didn’t want to cross the road where I’d last seen them, so I took my knife from my bra and gripped it tight, something I do when I see cougar tracks back home. I picked up the pace too. I would finish the mile of tracks, get to the highway, and make it home. Something told me to have a plan, so I decided if they came down the tracks, I would duck through the barbwire into the field where they would have to pursue me on foot.
Probably thanks to the candy bars, the run was going well. I felt fast and energetic. The sun disappeared behind the horizon and I let my mind wander. I thought about writing the next chapter of my novel. I thought about my friend whose lovable baby has entered the terrible-twos. I thought about my bad decision to run so late in the day. I was isolated by fields. It was a good half-mile to help in either direction. I didn’t know my cross streets and no one was waiting for me at home.
I was halfway to the highway, clipping at an even pace, when I saw the white Suburban. The men had come for me. My intuition was right.
For a long time, I was reluctant to carry a phone while running, but several months ago, I succumbed to my husband’s pleadings. I thought about calling him in Colorado, but as the men turned up the tracks, and dust spun up from the Suburban’s tires, I knew there was no time. I ducked through the barbed wire and dialed 911.
They must have seen me go through the fence, because they turned, headed parallel to the field, and made another attempt to cut me off. I went back out to the tracks and ran. Between breaths, the best I could tell the dispatcher was that I was just south of town, on the tracks, east of the highway, running away from a mobile home park.
It must have been somewhere in there that I dropped my knife. I was home before I realized I hadn’t put it back in my bra. Two men were chasing me in a truck and the best lifeline I had was my phone and however fast those candy bars would let me run.
The 911 dispatcher sent out two police and kept me on the phone. When I approached the road where I’d first seen the men, I saw a white SUV waiting by the tracks. It might have been the police, but at the time I was sure the men had parked and were waiting for me. The dispatcher told me to go to the road to meet the police, but I hadn’t seen any lights or heard any sirens and she couldn’t confirm it was police at the tracks.
I dropped into a willowy bush and crawled again through the barbed wire into the field. From the watery ditch, I saw the first police cruiser, a quarter-mile away, at the mobile home park. I ran through the alfalfa, toward the officer and took my chances of being hit by rifle-fire. Truth was, I didn’t think the men were that motivated. They saw the easy prey I’d allowed myself to become and didn’t pursue beyond that.
By the time I met the police, the men were gone. I gave the police a brief report and ran home, soaked and muddy in torn clothes. A few cuts in my skin ached from the barbed wire. The police followed and ensured I made it home. They patrolled my street a few times that night. I felt blessed to be alive, not still out in that field, not another statistic.
Scenes from that evening and its other possible outcomes haunted me all night. At 9:00 the next morning, I went to my local Sherriff’s office and applied for a concealed carry permit.
Three days since being chased, I’m back out on the road. I can’t give it up. I can be smarter about it. I can run in the morning or with a partner. I need to learn the roads and tell people where I’m going, but I won’t stop going. If I’m smart enough and lucky enough, I’ll never have to draw a weapon, but I refuse to rely on luck any longer. If I do draw, it’s my right to being a healthy, happy woman that I’ll defend.
TWAW notes on holsters:
There are a few good holster options for runners/athletes – Take a look at the following possible options: