Garmin joins national alliance aiming to put ‘Running While Female’ harassment to rest

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OLATHE, Kan. -- There's a new alliance to fight the harassment that women experience every day while exercising outdoors.

Runner's World and Women's Health have partnered with Garmin to put the meaning behind "Running While Female" to rest.

Palm strikes, self-awareness, eye contact and confidence are all key pieces that Johnson County Sheriff's Dep. Kevin Cronister teaches in self-defense training.

"If I'm throwing knee strike after knee strike, that's fine," Cronister said. "Until he quits, I'm not going to stop or until I can get away."

He attempts to arm women with tools to get out of bad situations while running.

"So it's mostly verbal, cat calling, that kind of thing," Cronister said, "but a lot of times, it moves into verbal threats and sexual advances."

On Tuesday at Garmin headquarters, Cronister was on a panel that's dedicated to the national "Runners Allience," which is built to protect women runners.

"Runner's World conducted a survey recently that told us that 84% of women have been harassed while running," Runner's World Associate Features Editor Taylor Rojek said. "That's too many. That's insane. It needs to change."

Of those surveyed, 68% said no one has ever stepped in to help.

"You have the right to defend yourself," Cronister said, "and the right to protect yourself and your family and the people around you."

Runners Alliance pushes bystanders to speak up.

"Running safety for women is so important to me because it's something I have to think about every day, sometimes twice a day," avid runner and Garmin employee Amy Regan said.

Regan qualified for the Olympic trials. Letting fear get in the way of her goals isn't an option.

She takes advantage of Garmin's new technology, including watches with built-in trackers that can notify loved ones of your location with the push of a button and the Live Track app.

"You can't control your environment," Regan said, "but you can control how you react or even how you're prepared to react in a situation."

Cronister said that's the key to keeping a community safe.

"When they know that the women in this area are all training, there's a big push to get women and men involved," he said. "They're going to move to a different area."

If you would like to sign up for a self-defense class, visit this site.

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