Finish Eliza’s Run: Northeast Arkansas community honors slain Memphis runner

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 10:59 AM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Finish Eliza’s Run.

It’s more than a phrase. It’s a call to action that brought out hundreds around the region,n including in Jonesboro.

It’s been a week since Eliza Fletcher was abducted and killed. Her murder took place about 70 miles away from Jonesboro in Memphis, but the pain and grief felt by runners around the area are the same.

Callie Talley, owner of Griffin Training Center and organizer of Friday’s run, told the more than 100 runners who turned out early Friday, that it may be hard to wake up, but just know it’s even harder for the family and friends of Eliza Fletcher.

“To see that 60 miles away, it’s just exhausting. To be a woman, to be a mom, to be a friend, to be a sister, and to think that the next time I go out for a run, I might not make it home because of the evil in the world is just exhausting,” Talley said.

She said it’s terrifying to think anything tragic could happen to her in a matter of seconds during her run.

It hurts her heart to think runners can’t go out to clear their minds, better their bodies, or destress from a long day without the fear of not making it back home to their families.

To show their solidarity, many of the runners wore pink tanks and purple shorts similar to what Fletcher wore on her last run.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen around the corner. You don’t know who’s going to be there, and that’s why I just try to show my support even if it’s just going for a run,” said Logan Techmer. “It might not be nothing we can do now, but support, it’s a big thing.”

The Northeast Arkansas community is not only close to Memphis but also close to Jackson County where Arkansas runner Sydney Sutherland was abducted and killed in 2020.

Talley, who organized a similar run in Sutherland’s honor, say the events weigh heavy on her heart.

“It was a very emotional run. I remember the first time we ran after Sydney’s murder. I had to stop running because I was just sobbing because she didn’t get to come home,” Talley said. “I was exhausted. It was a two-and-a-half mile run, and I was overcome with emotion because all she wanted to do was go for a run and come home.”

As they pushed up the hill and rounded the corner on their two-mile run, in their minds, hearts and prayers are the family and friends of Eliza Fletcher, who set out for her normal 10-mile run and never returned.

“She will always be on our mind,” Talley said. “This is not something that we support her today, and then tomorrow, we go back to normal lives. This is something that will stick with you forever.”

Talley hopes a day will come when she won’t have to host a memorial run, but she’s thankful for those who showed up to finish Eliza’s Run.