A Seattle runner credits a self-defence class with helping her fight off an attack and attempted rape.
Kelly Herron stopped to use a public washroom at Golden Gardens Park during a March 5, 2017 run when she was assaulted from behind by a man while she was washing her hands, she told KIRO 7.
“He lunged at me and I immediately just started to go into fight mode,” she told Inside Edition. She said she was glad she was wearing compression pants that day.
He threw her on the ground and started punching her. She crawled into a stall, but he followed her and kept trying to turn her onto her stomach.
“All I kept screaming during the attack was, ‘Not today, motherf***er.’ I was screaming it like an animal. It was the most vicious savage part of my being. There was no way I was going to let this guy rape me,” she told Inside Edition.
Three weeks beforehand, she’d participated in a self-defence class through work, and remembered she should hit him with the side of her hand.
On Instagram, she showed her scars as well as the struggle inside the washroom, as captured by her Garmin GPS watch.
While in the stall, the 36-year-old told ABC News, her attacker was beating her in the face with his hand. While she fought back by scratching him, she started to feel like she would lose consciousness.
A surge of adrenaline propelled her to grab the door and get out, she told the outlet. A stranger had a carabiner they used to lock the man in the bathroom.
Convicted sex offender Gary Steiner has been charged with attempted rape and assault, according to KIRO 7.
Steiner, 40, is classified by the Clark County Sheriff’s office as a Transient Level III Sex Offender, or the level most likely to reoffend.
My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact.
An instructor at Fighting Chance Seattle, where Herron learned her self-defence skills, was stunned to hear how she used her training.
“This is one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen... in the four years I’ve been running this workshop,” Jordan Giarratano told ABC News.
He had some tips for someone who is attacked — trust your intuition, respond right away, hit with an open hand and fight as hard as you can.
43 per cent of women have been harassed on a run
Herron’s attack comes after three women were killed in the U.S. during runs within the span of nine days last summer.
Another female jogger, Sherri Papini, was kidnapped in California last fall and found alive three weeks later on the side of a highway.
But while the chance of being murdered or kidnapped is rare, female joggers are far more likely to be harassed or followed. A survey from Runner’s World found 43 per cent of women experience harassment at least sometimes on a run. A third of female respondents said they’d been followed by someone.
Herron, despite her traumatic experience, still plans to keep running. She’s actually training for a marathon in June, she told ABC News.
“My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact,” she wrote on Instagram.