An Austin fitness studio has invited athletes nervous about running alone on downtown trails to join them for a free weekly run.
Kathy Redden, owner of Tetra Fitness, decided to offer the coached runs at no cost after a third runner was attacked on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail downtown two weeks ago.
The latest attack occurred Sept. 27 near the 1700 block of South Lakeshore Drive. The attacker tried to pull a woman into the bushes as she ran alone on the trail, according to police reports. The woman described the attacker as man in his 40s, about 5-foot-11, who spoke Spanish.
The assault was the third in a string of similar incidents, one of which Austin police believe they have solved.
A week before the Southeast Austin attack, a man tried to rape a woman who was running along the Butler trail near East Avenue and Cummings Street, but he was scared off by a bypasser carrying a handgun. Austin police have charged 22-year-old Richard McEachern with sexual assault in that attack.
On Aug. 22, another woman was assaulted while running on Austin High School’s track near the MoPac bridge. Police say they are still investigating that case.
“I personally love to run, and was approached (while running alone) about 10 years ago by someone who tried to take me down,” Redden says. That attack was thwarted, but the impact lingered. “It ruined my morning ritual, so I started to run with a group.”
Runners who want to join the group should meet at Tetra Fitness, 1717 W. Sixth Street, at 5:40 a.m. Mondays. The group will head out at 5:45 a.m. for a 75-minute run that includes hills, track or speed work. The session is open to runners of all skill levels; distance will vary from 4.5 to 7 miles.
“I don’t want it to sound intimidating,” Redden says. “It’s fun – it’s drills, we laugh a lot and there are super slow people and super fast people. It’s really all levels.”
The program will continue for the next few months. For more information go to Tetra Fitness’ page on Facebook.