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Today's Opinions: I’m a woman who runs on rural roads. The fear is always there

Natalie Ruth Joynton lives in rural northern Michigan, where on her regular morning run she revels in “the mist rising off the water, the towering beech trees, the rolling hills.” Each day out in nature “restores my sense of wonder,” she writes. But it also inspires a sense of fear. “Out here,” Joynton explains, “it isn’t the black bears or the rumored cougars” that scare her. “It’s the moment a single truck I don’t know turns down the dirt road where I’m running” — a truck that might be carrying a person who wants to hurt her. Surely many women can relate. I know I’ve had the same thought every time I’ve run on a rural road alone, or wanted to venture out on a solo hike. As Joynton writes, the simple act of taking a solitary run is never simple for a woman. We hold too many stories in our heads about women who’ve sought to roam free and, through no fault of their own, found themselves in harm’s way. It’s a constant weighing of desire against risk. Joynton, haunted by these women’s stories, says she’s still waiting for a national conversation about lethal predation on women and nonlethal harassment, which has similar chilling effects. In the meantime, she runs, in “one of the most beautiful parts of America.” She enjoys it “far too much to give it up.”

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