Runners in Greensboro 'Finish Liza's Run' in tribute to Eliza Fletcher

They honored the memory of Eliza Fletcher, who was abducted during a run in Memphis on Sept. 2 and whose body was discovered Monday.

Runners in Greensboro 'Finish Liza's Run' in tribute to Eliza Fletcher
Runners in Greensboro during a moment of silence in memory of Eliza Fletcher before they ran.
Click on the video above to see Michele Brooks discuss why she organized the run and offer tips and practices that female runners can use. And see runners Victoria Meeks and DJ Watt discuss why they wanted to be involved and precautions they take for runs.

A moment of silence in memory of Eliza Fletcher set a somber tone. And then about 125 runners in Greensboro, nearly all of them women, headed out to finish Liza's run.

Summerfield's Michele Brooks, assisted by her husband, Dennis, and by Greensboro's DJ Watt, brought the group together, from an idea at midweek to a tribute on a Friday morning at Friendly Shopping Center. The runners honored the memory of the Memphis wife and mother of two small children who was last seen at 4:20 a.m. CDT Sept. 2 while out for a run and whose body was discovered Monday.

One runner each at the front and the back of the group carried lighted candles, a tribute to a video posted in which Fletcher sang to her students via camera during the pandemic.

A video of Eliza Fletcher singing to her students by video during the pandemic.

"We are going to carry Eliza's light through the town of Greensboro and bring her home," Brooks said, drawing applause from the runners.

Brooks reminded the group of "the two young boys who were asleep in their beds, not knowing how much their world was going to change when they woke up."

And then she offered tips and practices that can be used by women who run.

"Please carry your phone and know how to trigger an SOS call," she said. "Please have some form of tracking. Look into other options for personal safety such as high-decibel personal alarms or a whistle. If you're running and you see me on the greenway or the trail, give me a thumbs-up, give me a smile, let me know you're OK.

"We are in this together. ... We owe it to ourselves and our families to have awareness of those approaching or coming up from behind. I believe we can do this without being paranoid.

"Look strangers in the eye. If you're uncomfortable, have your phone in your hand. Call a spouse or significant other. Start videoing, FaceTime. If you have an incident-detection trigger, hit it. You can always cancel it. A girl was attacked on a greenway in Charlotte just this week. What saved her? She was able to get her hand to the phone. She dialed 911, and the attacker ran off.

"If you have to have music, use one ear only or wear bone-conduction headphones. Have the music at a level that you hear someone approaching from behind."

Runners in Greensboro set off at 5:20 a.m. EDT, in solidarity with runners in Memphis at 4:20 in the Central time zone. Hundreds of runners in Fletcher’s home city began their run at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Central Avenue, and many paused, knelt and shed tears at the location where she was reportedly abducted in a Memphis neighborhood.

After the Greensboro run, Brooks said that she didn't want women to feel afraid to run.

"I don't want to feel afraid," she said. "So I want women to aware and to be empowered.

"There are a lot of running groups in Greensboro. Get on Facebook, look around, ask around, and join a group. Even if they don't run your hours, you'll be surprised at the small little groups that get going and you can get a small little group together that do want to run at the same time."

And she was grateful that so many turned out on short notice.

"I just feel like 'who am I?' to do this," she said, "and it was just a great turnout and a lot of women were just very appreciative of being able to do this.

"We're with you, Memphis."

Finish Eliza's Run in Memphis

Here's how Daily Memphian journalist Geoff Calkins chronicled this morning's tribute in Memphis via his Twitter account.