MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Boston Marathon veteran hopes to honor Eliza Fletcher when she runs the race again next year.
Michelle Richards, who lives in Lake City, Florida, has competed 14 times in the Boston Marathon. Richards said when she found out Eliza had qualified for the race, she knew she had to do something to keep her memory alive.
“I’m on a Boston 2023 group, and it just came to me,” said Richards. “Hashtag Boston for Eliza 2023. It just kind of, throughout the day, it caught on. Everyone is like, ‘Yeah, I’m running for her.'”
Registration for the 127th Boston Marathon begins on Monday.
The race in April also marks the 10th anniversary of the Boston bombing. Richards said she wanted to do something to make sure Fletcher was represented that day.
“I thought it would be neat to have a logo. Something for each of us that we can know that logo, and then we know that person is running for Eliza,” she said. “I’m sure the whole field will be running for her, but it will be neat just to know who was connected for her.”
Richards said the running community was turned upside by the murder of Fletcher one week ago in Memphis.
The teacher and avid runner was abducted during an early morning run on the University of Memphis campus.
“She is us,” Richards said. “We get up that early, not because we want to. It’s because we have children and lives, and we have employees, and we have to do our training and stress relief before our day even starts.”
Richards is part of a running group in Florida. She said since the tragedy, they have become much more focused on their safety. She said she’ll no longer run alone.
“I reached out to a self-defense instructor that I took self-defense courses from 15 years ago and asked him if he would be interested in doing runner-specific self-defense courses. Maybe we could call it EF fight in honor of Eliza,” she said.
Richards said she’s angry Fletcher didn’t get to live her life and fulfill her goals.