Thousands of runners rally around US to 'Finish Eliza's Run'

Composite photo of murder suspect Cleotha Abston, left, and victim Eliza Fletcher, center and right. (Courtesy: Tennessee Department of Corrections and Memphis Police Department)

Thousands of people in cities across the U.S. finished Eliza’s run Friday morning.

The runs were organized as a tribute to Eliza Fletcher, who was forced into a vehicle after a struggle during her pre-dawn run last Friday in Memphis, Tennessee. A suspect was swiftly identified and has been charged with her kidnapping and murder.

The killing of the 34-year-old kindergarten teacher and mother of two shocked people nationwide, and was particularly upsetting to women runners. An obituary described Fletcher as a "born athlete" who enjoyed spending time outside with husband and children.


Scenes from a memorial run in Memphis. (Geoff Calkins via Storyful)

RELATED: Tampa runners hit the streets to honor Memphis jogger found dead after abduction

Many female athletes fear working out alone, at night or in secluded places, and while crime statistics show such killings are exceedingly rare, many report being harassed or worse, even in well-populated areas.

In response, groups of runners decided to "Finish Eliza's Run" in the pre-dawn darkness Friday morning, a week after her slaying. Many wore pink tops and purple shorts in her honor. Groups ran in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and many other cities and towns around the country. Hundreds logged their runs on a website dedicated to the event.

RELATED: Eliza Fletcher kidnapping: Timeline of the Memphis teacher's abduction, murder