The 36-year-old was six kilometres in to a 16-kilmotre run when her marathon training became every runner’s worst nightmare. In an interview with ABC News, Kelly recalls the moment she knew she was in danger, saying, “As I was drying my hands, I became aware that something was wrong.”
That’s when police allege Gary Steiner, a 40-year-old registered sex offender in Arizona, pushed Kelly to the bathroom floor and attacked her – hitting her knees and legs, and badly bruising her arms.
Kelly responded by repeatedly screaming, “Not today m***er f***er,” which she said became her “battle cry” throughout the attack.
When she realised “this doesn’t have to be a fair fight,” Kelly used tactics she learnt in a self-defence class just three weeks earlier – clawing his face and punching him back. “I learned to put hard bones in soft, fleshy places, so I just started beating his head with the side of my hand,” she said.
A recent Runner’s World survey found that 43% of women have experienced harassment while running. Kelly chose to share her story in the hope of encouraging women to “never stop fighting and never stop running.”
In an Instagram post following the brutal attack, she wrote, “My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact.” She is still training to run the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon in June.
The alleged attacker has been charged with second-degree attempted rape, reports People.