CHICAGO (CBS)– Running for your life can take on an all-too-serious meaning, when your safety is at risk.  A group local women have joined forces to protect themselves.

“It’s just a sense of uncomfort,” said Katie Murray, Despite the Dark President. “There is a pit in your stomach, you’re not sure what to do. Everything from being catcalled to being harassed to worse, raped and killed.”

So five co-workers started a group called Despite the Dark to bring a safe running experience to women. Many are endurance athletes with busy lives and can only run before or after work when it is dark.


With the Shamrock Shuffle in the books, it's officially running season. But if you are a woman running after dark, it can be tricky. Rachel Colonna and Ali Barzyk, two of the co-founders of their organization Despite the Dark, joined us in studio to talk about their mission to keep women safe while they run.


“Everyone deserves the opportunity to get outside and get healthy, no matter who you are and what time of day it is.”

Holding your keys between your knuckles. Rearranging your schedule to squeeze in a daytime workout. Constantly scanning your surroundings. Avoiding running alone in the dark.

Ask any female runner and she will tell you that she’s had to take one or more of these precautions at some point when running outside in public spaces like running trails or city streets.


Cold Sweat Chicago

S2E7 – Despite the Dark

A tale of five girls and only two microphones. The ladies behind the Despite the Dark campaign - Katie Murray, Rachel Colonna, Madison Herzon, and Ali Barzyk - join Kacie in studio for a spooky Halloween episode! You probably know this thriller all too well: a woman walking alone at night, or jogging outside to get some exercise in, only to feel unsafe in her surroundings. We talk about the inspiration behind Despite the Dark, a campaign focused on sparking conversation around women's safety running after dark.


Summer interns get stuff done. And keep doing it. Case in point, the launch of “Despite the Dark,” an initiative from a group of Chicago interns at Cramer-Krasselt who decided to take a stand and shed light on the challenge and issues facing female runners who want to run at night or after work.

The interns discovered that 60% of women report limiting their runs only to daytime  – as opposed to just 14% of men.  This is because of the higher risks women face, such as being catcalled, assaulted, raped or even killed. Especially after dark.


CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two high profile murders this summer and several attacks in Chicago have runners here anxious. Authorities tell the I-Team predators are mainly looking for people who are alone and distracted.

Reports show most attacks are against women, but recently Michael Masterson was jumped and beaten during his early morning run on the lakefront path in Lincoln Park, police said. The 79-year-old former marathon runner says Rokas Ablacinskas grabbed his neck and told him he was going to kill him.

The 21-year-old is charged with aggravated battery and attempted first-degree murder.


Jordyn Kerr, 22, holds her keys between her knuckles as she walks home.

Rachel Colonna, 22, mentions spending money on an Uber to go the distance of one train stop “just because it’s late, and it’s dangerous.”

Ali Barzyk, 21, rearranges her schedule just to fit in a mandatory workout “in a closed space that is safe.”

And Gabriella Torres, 21, is constantly on a swivel, “always scanning my perimeter to see who’s around and to see, should I need help, who can be there.”

These women, all interns at Chicago advertising agency Cramer-Krasselt, know all too well the struggles of finessing safety while navigating the dark as women. They knew they weren’t alone and wanted to have a bigger conversation.


Endurance athletes often lead busy lives; between juggling a job, day-to-day chores, family and a social life, making time for training can be difficult. For women, it’s even more difficult. Sixty percent of women limit their training time to day-time hours, as opposed to 14 percent of men, as they are more at risk for being harassed, assaulted, raped or even killed.

Over the past few years, runners around the world have tried to raise awareness for female athletes, but unfortunately, safety is still questionable. In fact, just this week, a college student from Iowa went out for a jog at night, and has not been seen or heard from since. It seems these cases are growing, and a local organization wanted to take a stand.


Muse by Clio

3 Cool Things Cramer-Krasselt's Interns Made in 2 Months for Just $1,000

#DespitetheDark hed 2018.jpg

Stop sassing about your tight budget.

Ad agency Cramer-Krasselt has something called the C-K Create internship program, where college students and recent grads across the country join the company for two months and are tasked with the goal of making something that solves a problem. 

Two months isn't a ton of time; it's barely enough to integrate new blood into existing processes. So, it's kind of cool that this internship onboards a bunch of people all at the same time and gives them a project all their own from the get-go. 

Using just $1,000, the batch of interns must identify a problem to solve, create an integrated campaign, and execute it over two weeks.


Like Cinderella dancing the night away at a ball until the midnight hour, my ability to go for an evening run depends totally on someone else’s timeline (the sun’s, in this case). In summer, it’s all good — I can leave my apartment at 8 or even 8:30 pm and get a few miles in before the sun starts to dip below the horizon. But in the winter, I’m racing the clock, picking up the pace as the seconds tick by and darkness starts to overtake the lakefront path.

It’s not that I’m scared of the dark, exactly — but I’ve heard too many stomach-clenching stories from fellow female runners to risk running solo after dark. In a big city like Chicago, especially, we’re warned that danger lurks around every corner and every curve in the lakefront path; we’re taught to carry pepper spray and phone alarms, and more often than not, it just becomes easier to avoid running at night altogether.


What would you do if someone told you, that you had eight weeks to make an impact?

This summer, four interns from Cramer-Krasselt, a marketing and communication agency, were tasked with the project of finding a cause they all believed in and creating an impact. 

These four empowering young women Gabriella Torres, Ali Barzyk, Jordyn Kerr and Rachel Colonna did extensive research to discover a major problem in their immediate community, as well as communities across the globe. This problem was around women running at night. 

With many discoveries and their own personal experiences with running or walking in the dark, they choose this as their cause. You see when it comes to running at night, women only have two options: 1. Running on the treadmill; 2. Not running at all.