We woke this morning to hear of a bright, young, innocent woman dead.
Her name was Vanessa Marcotte. She was 27, and an employee at Google. In her spare time, she volunteered at a local community garden. She loved surfing. And family. And running.
On Sunday, Vanessa never came home from her routine morning run. Within hours her body was found in shrubbery without clothes; her hands, feet, and head burnt. Reports say she was raped.
This shouldn’t feel like groundhog day, but it does.
Because last week we woke to the same news, of another bright, young, innocent woman dead.
Her name was Karina Vetrano. She was 30, and an employee at the local restaurant. In her spare time, she travelled the globe with friends. She loved social media. And family. And running.
Last Tuesday, Karina never came home from her routine 5pm run. Within hours her body was found near a park. She had lost a tooth, and there were signs of strangulation. Reports say she was raped.
These stories are unthinkable - they are sickening and terrifying in equal parts - yet they were lived by Vanessa and Karina.
Women who were just going on their daily run. In daylight. On familiar, well-beaten tracks.
While these women lived in the US, our distance from their tragedy provides no comfort. This fear of being snatched off the streets is felt by women everywhere.
I'll be the first to admit it: I'm scared to go running now.
I'm really scared.
When I go for a walk, I feel the need to constantly check over my shoulder, and I instinctively tense up when strange cars drive past. I walk a little faster in the quiet streets, and I take a deep, full breath when I reach the busy ones.
But you know what terrifies me more than all of that?
I'm terrified that women - you, reading this right now - will stop going for their daily run. I'm terrified that the depraved acts of monsters will define how we live, how we engage and how we participate in our communities.
Because it's our fucking right to go for a run.
The more we retreat into our homes and the more we 'sit this one out', the more we let the monsters control us, own us and define us.
It's certainly not easy, but it's important we don't hang up our shoes. We need to keep walking, running, skipping and climbing.
We need to show Vanessa and Karina's monsters that yes, we see you, but you will not stop us.
And yes, we're terrified. But we won't stop running.