Four miles into a planned 10-mile run in Seattle’s Golden Gardens park on Sunday, 36-year-old Kelly Herron stopped for what she thought would be a quick bathroom break. But when she stepped out of a public bathroom stall, it was anything but.
In a viral Instagram post, Herron recounted being brutally attacked on by a man hiding in the restroom.
“I fought for my life screaming("Not today, M**F**er!"), clawing his face, punching back, and desperately trying to escape his grip- never giving up,” Heron wrote in the post, which had received more than 26,000 likes as of Tuesday morning. “I was able to lock him in the bathroom until police arrived. Thankfully I just took a self-defense class offered at my work and utilized all of it.”
In the post, Herron features three photos, including one of her bloody face — with a gash above her left eyebrow and a wound on her left nostril — and another with an aerial view of the bathroom with red lines from the GPS in her fitness tracker, which documented the harrowing attack.
According to police, the attacker was Gary Steiner, a 40-year-old registered sex offender in Arizona who has a history of assaulting women, ABC News reported.
Herron told ABC she fought Steiner off by scratching and hitting the side of his face, aiming for hard bones and fleshy places, just as she learned in her self-defense class three weeks earlier.
"All those little things that I learned in my life ... how to punch and everything came back to me," she told ABC. "I started to feel like I was going to lose consciousness ... but I got another surge of adrenaline, and I reached for the door and was able to get out."
Steiner is reportedly being held in jail on $750,000 bail. According to ABC, he faces charges of attempted rape in the second degree, as well as second degree assault.
Herron’s attack is only the latest in a string of assaults on runners. Sherri Papini, the 34-year-old California mother who disappeared after a run late last year, was rescued after her attackers reportedly branded her then tossed her from an SUV.
ABC pointed out a Runner’s World magazine survey found 43 percent of female runners experience harassment.
Herron, who had been training for the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon this summer, said “Not today, m***** f*****!” became her battle cry during the assault.
She told ABC she feels empowered after fighting off her attacker and still plans to run the marathon this June.
"My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact," Herron wrote on Instagram.