Fear is keeping some women off of the hike and bike trail in Austin. Three recent attacks have them feeling like it's not safe to run alone or even in pairs. A gym owner says she's fed up and she's putting power in numbers to take back the trail.
Gym owner Kathy Redden recently armed herself with pepper spray.
"It fits like a glove. I think this is for punching people, What's great about it is you run and it's there,” said Redden.
But she more than anyone knows that no matter the training or tools you never know how you will react to an attack until you are in that very moment.
"I was running and there was someone on a bicycle and he rode up to me and got off his bike and started to come towards me and he was saying things to me and reaching out for me,” she said.
Redden is describing an incident that happened while she was on a morning jog several years ago near the hike and bike trail.
"I just froze. Thank goodness I saw someone else and I told him that was my boyfriend and he was going to beat him up. I started running for that person. He chased us. That nice man yelled at him and screamed at him and fought him off,” said Redden. "None of those punches I practiced for 5 years, none of them came out at that time."
Recently, other women have reported incidents--only worse.
Since August 22nd, police say three women have been attacked along the trail. One woman was grabbed on the Austin High School track. Then, a woman was sexually assaulted off Rainey Street. That case is solved. Two weeks ago, a woman was grabbed along Lakeshore Boulevard.
"Even getting out the door to run at all is hard, then to be scared? To be confronted and attacked. I don't know something went off in me,” said Redden.
Redden got angry and decided to create a free running group. She is inviting you to meet at her gym, Tetra Fitness, on West 6th Street, at 5:40 a.m. every Monday.
You don't have to be a pro.
"I have 5 1/2 minute per mile runners. I have 11 1/2 per minute mile runners and I have everything in between,” said Redden.
Christine West says if not for the group run, she would not go to the trail.
"I was too scared to get out there not knowing what I might find,” said West. "We're a fit city and it's sad that someone's taken that away from us. So she's given us a chance to not allow that to happen."
"Just change your routine. Make it Mondays. Come do it with us, be safe,” said Redden.
Another safe bet is to run with police officers. Thursday morning APD is hosting a Run with the Cops. Meet at Auditorium Shores at 6:30 a.m. They’ll be out there until 7:30.