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After Greenbelt Trail Attack Experts Offer Safety Tips to Runners

CLIVE, Iowa -- After Tuesday’s attack in broad daylight of a runner along the Greenbelt Trail in Clive, the running community is offering up advice on how to stay safe.

The woman, 18 year-old Emma Auen-Ryan, was able to fight off her attacker and got away with a wound to the head. Both police and running enthusiasts say these kinds of attacks are extremely rare, but are something to have in the back of your mind.

“It is something that we just need to be aware of. I think everybody needs to be aware, unfortunately maybe women a little more than men” said Steve Bobenhouse.

Bobenhouse owns fitness sports right on the Greenbelt Trail. He says the last incident he remembers on the trail was three years ago, but yesterday's attack can be a wakeup call that these sorts of things do happen, and how you can be prepared.

“Pepper sprays that type of stuff, we also recommend whistles and anything to try and gain attention to the area” said Bobenhouse.

Bobenhouse says equipment only goes so far; both he and police say behavior on the trail is the main way to avoid becoming a victim.

“The first choice is not to run alone, especially in the case of women I think. Have somebody know where you're at and when you're supposed to be back, know when you're leaving, that type of stuff. Don't use the same route every day. The music part, I know people enjoy it but we don't recommend it at any time because you're just not as aware of what's going on around you” said Bobenhouse.

Meanwhile, metro police say they're making efforts to keep Central Iowa trail system safe.

“The big challenge with trails is accessibility. Bicycles would be great, but you can’t cover as much turf with a lower number of people. We've gotten an electric motorcycle that when staffing and the weather allow we try to get it out there and get deep into the trails” said Des Moines Police Spokesman Paul Parizek.

Bobenhouse also recommends an ID tag on your shoes that list your emergency contact info and any medical history you have.