He Won’t Take Running From Me

I had 10 miles on my training schedule for Saturday mornings run. I was physically and sexually assaulted on my run at mile 8.2. I will forewarn you, this post will be long. I want to get the details out, for me mentally, for those in Mobile to be aware, and for the safety of each and every female runner I know.

I haven’t had to run in Mobile in almost a year. Running around my dads house can be challenging, there are no sidewalks and I don’t love the neighborhoods next to us. I chose to go run at Cottage Hill Park. The loop at the park is right under 2 miles and there are plenty of people out and about. I also planned on running in the neighborhoods around it-all of them have sidewalks and are all nice, middle upper class, clean areas. I used to run in the downtown area and there are two reasons I didn’t this weekend: old sidewalks (issues with my ankle) and the sketchy homeless people.

I started my run a few minutes before 8am. I looped the park and headed out on Knollwood towards Grelot. I turned left on Grelot to Hillcrest and turned around and ran back up Grelot to Regency Oaks neighborhood. I looped the neighborhood and headed back out on Grelot to University. I decided to also do Regency neighborhood to run by a childhood friends home. Throughout my run, I saw several runners on the road. I felt very safe. People were out in the yards and plenty of people driving up and down the street in Regency (this is a big cut-through neighborhood). I remember passing a woman, also running, and nodding to her and headed back onto Grelot, a mile or so later.

By the time I was near the park, I needed another 2 miles or so. I decided to turn into Sutton Place neighborhood. I don’t/didn’t know the neighborhood well, just that it made a loop and I knew it would be close to the perfect mileage for the end of my run. Again, it’s a nice neighborhood. I had a friend from high school that lived there.

All of the sudden I heard very heavy footsteps behind me, probably 25-35 feet or so behind me. I saw a large black man running towards me. My runners instinct was to step to the side and out of the way, in case he was doing sprints or something and I was in his way (have to laugh at myself for this one). I quickly realized that he was running AT ME-because when I stepped out into the street, he did too.

He put his arms around me and I was screaming “HELP HELP HELP” at the top of my lungs. I was wiggling and trying to elbow him. He rubbed his hands all over my body and breasts and grabbed my left breast hard, two to three times. He was smiling the entire time and never said a word. He took off running.  It all happened so fast. I don’t think he groped me down there, I would’ve remembered. I can distinctly remember the breasts-it was forceful and violent. I think any other private area would’ve felt the same.

I immediately starting shaking and sobbing and pulled out my phone and called 911. I was able to give the address since there were mailboxes all around. I struggled getting words out and luckily 2 women, that weren’t running together, were finishing up their runs and heading home into the neighborhood. (No one ever came out of their homes-turns out-the lady was vacuuming in the house that it happened in front of-she wouldn’t have been able to hear me).

One of the women was the girl that I passed in Regency. She immediately said,  “it was the large, black man. I saw him following you.”  I knew he had on a red Alabama hoodie and I couldn’t really tell what kind of pants they were.  She told me they were jeans. That is why she thought it was odd. Runners don’t run in jeans. She said he was a good 5-6 houses behind me, which is why I couldn’t hear him, but she knew something just wasn’t right. She also noticed a black car (maybe a dodge) that was left running, parked off to the side in the neighborhood behind some bushes. She had a bad feeling, turned around, and saw that the man was heading back towards her. She ran back out on a main road (side note: she has been running these neighborhoods daily for 20 years and never had an issue) and assumed the guy was leaving. Turns out, he must’ve known some sort of cut through (by foot, not car) to get to the other street where I was. I honestly don’t think he was on the main road that I was on. I’m not sure he could’ve run that far, that fast, or that long. I truly think he cut through the neighborhood and saw me again.

The cops arrived in 5 minutes. There were 3-4 of them and several others out patrolling the area looking for the man.  My dad came and drove around too. Another male that had come by on his bike went looking too.  Unfortunately, no one ever found him or the car. The cops said that this sounds like a male in 2 other cases that have happened recently. Groping and grabbing, but not an actual rape.  What also sucks is that he had on an Alabama hoodie. On Iron Bowl day, in Alabama. He is dressed like half of the city. If it would’ve been any other shirt, or color shirt, I think he would’ve been easier to spot.

only pic of the day. from the cop car. view of area and many neighbors checking to see what was going on.

I had to stay for almost 2 hours giving my statement to the police and to the detective. The neighborhood happens to have security cameras, and I just got an email from the lady who helped me today (she found my blog) letting me know that they caught him on camera. She had to go and give a sketch artist a description as well. I feel so good about the police catching him now.  The news might run the story as well. If they catch him, I will have to testify against him for sexual assault.

****update: here are the pics caught from the video:

This truly scared the shit out of me. I am doing my best to NOT think about the “what ifs” that could’ve been. It’s not healthy to think that way.

What I learned from this:

1. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR PHONE. I don’t care if you don’t like a belt. I don’t care if you know your neighborhood. I don’t care if you feel safe.  I don’t know what I would’ve done if I would’ve had to knock on doors or wait for someone to drive by to call the police.

2. TAKE A SELF DEFENSE CLASS. Randomly, I saw a deal for one in Atlanta the other day. I chose not to buy it, I didn’t want to spend the money. You can bet all the money in the world that I will be taking one of these classes ASAP. We all should know how to protect ourselves from an assault.

3. CARRY MACE. Mine was in my car. Super cool. I will admit, I wouldn’t have been able to get it out fast enough to do anything though. It happened too quickly.

4. RUN WITH A GROUP (or pair). It’s funny, I was going to ask my girlfriends husband to run with me today, but he runs a bit faster than my plan called for, so I didn’t. Not to mention, it’s hard when you are out of town to find someone. BUT, I think I will be on the treadmill or finding a new partner in Atlanta soon.

5. MAKE SURE SOMEONE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE GOING. My dad knew where I was, thank goodness. From now on, I think it will be better off to leave an actual route.

6. NO MUSIC OR ONE EARBUD. I failed here. Both of mine were in. I am usually really good in Atlanta about this, but took my comfort level for granted. Don’t get me wrong, the music wasn’t loud. I easily heard him coming, but I am still beating myself up a bit.

7. BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. I feel I failed here too. We runners tend to get in the zone. Get lost in our thoughts, especially on a good run, and I was having one of them. I should’ve turned around more. Looked around more. Part of it, I think, was not knowing the neighborhood like I used to. The other witness said she noticed the car (because she runs the streets every day).

8. CHANGE YOUR ROUTE UP & THE TIME YOU RUN. This wasn’t an issue for me, but something to think about. If you run the same streets, the same time of day, someone will notice. ESPECIALLY a creeper. Change it up. If you feel like you are being followed or watched, get to a main street.

9. WATCH WHAT YOU POST. Again, this wasn’t an issue for me. But think about it. If you post every single detail of your runs on dailymile, or your garmin data isn’t private, people can see what you do. Be vague.

10. TRUST YOUR GUT.  I felt safe this time. However, the other runner knew something was wrong. She just had an off feeling. And she was right. If you feel unsafe, if something feels off, you are probably right.

Nancy (stepmom) dropped me back off at my car when I was done. I told her that he wasn’t going to take away my love. I had to finish that 1.8 miles. I HAD TO FINISH THAT RUN. I looped the park, adrenaline pumping and senses heightened. Running should be my empowerment, not a fear.  This jerk off won’t take running from me.

I hope the police catch him. I am thankful for their quick response and their help today.  I am also so incredibly thankful for the other runner. She saw so much that I missed and was so kind to stay with me and take time out of her day to deal with the police.

Stay safe everyone.

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  • Oh Elizabeth! My heart is hurting for you after reading this! I know just that area! I live in Daphne. I’m so glad he didn’t do anything else. I hope they catch him girl. Stay safe! And thanks so much for the safety tips. Us runners need to be reminded of them because we get so in to our comfort zone.

  • This post has me in tears, I am so absolutely sorry this happened to you!!! I’m so thankful it wasn’t worse! This is so scary and I’m so glad you shared this information, it’s always good to have these reminders. Sending you virtual hugs, I just hate that this happened to you but I’m glad you finished that run.

  • e, i am so thankful you are safe but scared to that you were assaulted. like you, i try to run safely (carry my phone, one earbud, my road id) and yet there are still people intent on harm. if you ever need a slow run buddy in atl, text me or @ me too.

    much love, jenny @cloudspark

  • OH MY GOD!! E, I’m soooo glad you are ok. I had a hard time reading this for fear of what was going to happen to you. It’s such a good reminder for runners, especially women.

    I’m so glad you’re ok. I don’t even know what else to say. I’m just so glad you’re ok.

  • I am first of all so glad that you are okay and also amazed at how you are handling this. You have such a strong spirit. I feel ill over this whole awful thing though. Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us all – it only takes one time. Always be aware. Always be ready. They better catch that man.

  • Sounds terrifying. I have experienced stalkers before and it sucks. I had a car follow me on my run before and I lost them through a road I knew a car couldnt go down, thankfully. I went into a store and called the police because I remembered the car description and tag number. They caught the creeps, they were in previous trouble for rape. I am so thankful, my instincts took over that day. There are so many runners that are being stalked and killed, its scary. Please be careful! Glad you are safe!

  • Holy crap! I hate this happened to you and I am hopeful that the cops catch this guy! Every time I leave the house I try to leave a note for my boyfriend letting him know exactly the route I am running. I never run with my phone, but may start. So glad you are okay and that you are so strong to stay positive throughout all of this!

  • Oh Elizabeth. I admire your courage and wish I could give you q.big hug. Blessings to the woman who gave a sketch, hope they catch the guy.

  • Big Sis, I hate you had to go through this, but I am thankful it wasn’t worse. Stay safe and trust your gut. I’m sure running will be tough for a while, but I am glad you already got back up on that horse. If you stop running, the creap wins.

  • This is a frightening story! I’m so glad you are refusing to let this guy take running away from you. Thank you for reminding all of us of the dangers.

  • I came across your blog on twitter. I’m so sorry this happened to you and at the same time I’m so amazed that you still completed your run today. I live just down the interstate in Pensacola and knowing this happened so close to home is terrifying. Thank you for posting some great tips on how to stay safe.

  • Thank you for sharing and spreading awareness! I am so glad you are injured physically. Hugs! {I’m interested in running in/around ATL depending on your pace, I’m slower.} JILL

  • I’m so sorry to hear this happened but am glad that it wasn’t any worse. Those are good safety tips. I never run with music and I always run with pepper spray in my hand (not in a belt where I have to get it out). But the area where I run is a little more sketchy. I once ran by a guy holding another guy at gunpoint. You can bet I did NOT finish that run and saved it for another day. Good for you for getting out there and not letting it rattle you more than it could have. Stay safe, girlie.

  • OMG! I live in the mobile area and run downtown during the week at lunch. I hate this happened to you… What an awful story! I hope they find this pervert. I want to share your story with my runner friends so they know to be safe and alert in that area.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I can’t imagine what ou must have felt during and after. It’s sad that often it takes an incident like this to remind others to protect themselves. I am so sorry you had to go through this and I hope the police catch this guy before he hurts another person.

  • OMG…I am SO sorry this happened to you. How scary. I am proud that you ran the end of your run. I wonder if I would be afraid to run by myself again. I am glad he wasn’t able to take that from you. I usually only carry my Mace during runs in the dark. I think I will take it every time. Do you have one that you carry on your hand? it is pretty fast.

    I am glad you are physically fine!

  • I am so sorry this happened to you! It sounds like it as an incredibly traumatic experience, and I am glad that it was not much worse.

    I encourage you, as well as your readers, to consider a martial arts practice as cross training for your running. The skills needed to defend yourself take time to develop, and it as much about habit and practice as it is knowledge…much like running, you have to build up the muscle memory so that the form comes without thought when you are under pressure. One or two self defense seminars cannot give that to you; it comes from steady practice.

    I would recommend finding a school that teaches a combined style with skills for both standard fighting as well as grappling for if you get knocked down. I study a style that combines Muay Thai with Brazilian Jui Jitsu, in addition to my running. If you would like help finding a good school in your area, feel free to email me and I’ll ask my instructor for some recommendations.

    No woman should have to go through what happened to you! But at least we can make sure that more women can give a creep like that pounding he deserves.

  • Thanking God you are ok. I hate that such a horrible thing happened to you but I am more grateful that you are ok. Safety is so important. Thanks for your bravery and strength. Again…here for you.

  • I am in shock reading this.
    I am so sad you this happened to you.
    You are brave and strong and generous to share this with others.
    I hope they catch him and he does not hurt other gals.
    It is just terrible that we women are not safe out there just doing something that is good for us. The world is a scary place.
    I hope that you will be OK…and that you will be able to not think about this too often…it can be a tricky thing to do…not to see the face anymore…but you will get to that place…you will.
    sending you a huge hug from California.

  • Fingers crossed that they catch this jerk and are able to put him away. I always run with my phone even if it’s just a couple of miles around the neighborhood because you really never can be too careful. Bad people are everywhere. So glad you are ok!

  • You’ve been on my mind all week E, and Ive been meaning to stop by here. I’m so sorry to read this. How terrifying. I’m sad you had to experience this. It is a good reminder for all of us. Big, big hugs my friend.

  • Oh my gosh, I am so sorry that this happened to you! I live in west mobile and frequent medal of honor park a lot with my two boys. If this was on the news, I completely missed it 🙁 Thanks for the safety tips. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking to runninh at the coast guard base from now on.

  • I am so sorry you had to experience this but am so proud of you for sharing your story and finishing your run. I really hope they do eventually find this guy. And thanks for the reminders on safety….I keep telling myself I want to get some mace and ironically my main concern are some of the random dogs around here.

  • Elizabeth I am Horrified to read this!!! This is every female runner’s nightmare, and it makes me even more wary about running alone (which I almost always do). Do not let this freak take running from you. You need to talk to Kym Klass at the Montgomery Advertiser and have her publish your story in her running column… She was raped during a run as a college student and stopped running for years. You are one of the people who inspire me to keep running because you do it for the same reasons I do. How dare this guy do this!!!!!

  • Met u Thursday at the Turkey Trot. Sorry to hear about this, am glad u r OK. To reiterate what u recommended, I always carry mace and my phone. I was running out in Semmes one Sunday evening about 5:30 when a truck started following me, extremely close. Even followed me into the grass. The only thing that saved me was the Rescue Squad helicopter flying over with its spot light on. Like u I don’t know if I could have grabbed the mace quick enough but it is always better to try to be prepared. Stay safe and stay aware.

  • i am so proud that you had the presence to scream at all! I think many times we think we can, but when it happens the shock stops us from doing so. I am so glad you are ok and so glad you are sharing this reminder. I needed it.

  • It’s even more surreal knowing exactly where you were running. Those are not bad areas of Mobile! It really can happen to anyone and I am so, so glad you are OK. Hope that f’r gets what’s coming to him.

  • I think you are so brave to post this and I’m glad you finished your run. I’m sorry this happened to you and I’m glad you were not seriously injured. I hope the police catch this bad person and he is stopped!
    Thank you for your recommendations, I will follow your good advice.

  • I am so so sorry this happened to you! I am a friend of Harmony’s, as someone who has been sexually assaulted I want to softly challenge you on some of your verbiage. You DID NOT FAIL AT ANYTHING!!! Don’t get me wrong we all should be aware of our surroundings but I can almost guarantee you it wouldn’t have mattered if you looked around more or heard him earlier..these things happen in a matter of seconds. Stating you “should have” implies you had some sort of responsibility in this and you DID NOT!!! You were not responsible for this. I’m very sorry this happened and I will be praying for your processing of this and for his capture!!!

  • SO sorry to hear about your weekend. My sister is a little more paranoid than me and warns me about the same things you mentioned above. I always feel safe even when running late at night – I definitely won’t look at my run the same way again. Hope you have better runs in your future… and keep going just like you are!

  • ohmygosh I’m so sorry that this happened to you but I’m so glad that you are OK. I really hope that they catch him. Thank you for the reminders. I know that I need to be more aware when I’m out running – I definitely take it for granted.

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you. I bet they catch him. Good for you for taking quick steps to call the police and for the other runner to come back to check on you. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • I have tears in my eyes reading this. I am so sorry that this happened to you. Thank you for you willingness to share your story. I will be better about carrying my phone from now on because of you. But, please don’t beat yourself up anymore. This is not your fault! I hope thepolice catch the creep because it is completely his fault! You are in my prayers tonight.

  • I am SO sorry this happened to you. And SO glad you are okay. Its such a reminder that anything can happen. I pray this guy is captured to not bring this terror on another woman. And my prayers are also with you as recover from such a terrifying experience.

  • Ugh…I am so sorry this happened to you. I’ve been through it, too. I am glad you had some on-scene support…those runner women sound so nice and the cops sound like they were actually listening and interested in helping. Keep aware. Run safe. I love you.

  • I was literally glued to my screen reading. Thank you for sharing and this really makes me think twice. I am terribly sorry this happened to you but more proud of you sharing your story.

  • This guy is dirt…I hope they catch him and lock him away for a while. I am sorry you had to go though that! I have to say you are one tough gal not to let him deter you from running, stay strong!

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you. This is one of my running routes as well. I’ve had some scary experiences while running on Grelot and Cottage Hill Park too but never this extreme! My husband makes me carry a small mace when I run because of it. Never give up on your desire and will to run!

  • OH MY GOSH I am SO sorry this happened to you! Thank you for sharing and I am SO SO SO SO SO glad you are safe. They better catch that a-hole! This is so scary and I’m giving you tons of hugs from afar.

  • This is horrible, and unfortunately, happens too often. Reading this also, unfortunately, brings back memories or a very close call of mine, that, fortunately, I was able to escape.

    I hope they catch the guy that did this to you! I guess this just reinforces the need to always be prepared!

  • I’m so sorry that this happened to you- it must have been a truly upsetting and overwhelming thing to experience. How scary! Thank you for sharing your story and reminding the rest of us to be careful! I worry about this same thing often, and realize that while we can take all the necessary safety precautions, sometimes things just happen that are way outside of our control. I appreciate that you finished that run and didn’t allow him to ruin your love for running.

  • I am in absolute shock. I am so thankful that you are okay Elizabeth. What an absolute terrifying experience for you! I hope that they catch that guy- what a freaking creep! I was chased when I was in high school, but they guy never actually got his hands on me because I was able to get away. He had me cornered at one point and I still don’t even know how I was able to escape. It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced. Because of that I am very, very, very cautious when I run since I usually run by myself. I rarely listen to music and always run on routes that are well lit and that I am familiar with and that have houses I could go to if I needed help. There are times where I do get freaked out and will find myself clutching onto my cell phone in case I need to call 911, but thankfully that has never happened. I am praying that they catch that guy and I truly hope that you are okay. I am VERY proud of you for finishing your run despite what happened. You are strong, amazing, inspirational and just plain incredible. XXXXX

  • Hello, I just came across your blog while looking for tips to stay safe. I’m sorry this happened to you, but thankful that it wasn’t worse, and I’m glad they got this guy on video. Hopefully they’ll catch him before he does this… or worse… to the next person. Good for you for taking control… once you give that up, it’s the hardest thing to reclaim.

  • Oh I am so sorry this happened to you!! Praise God it wasn’t worse but geez was a creep. You’re such a strong woman for not letting this detour you and keep pushing forward!!

  • A friend of mine posted this on Facebook tonight. Even though I have no idea who you are, I am so sorry to hear this and hope that you are emotionally ok or will be soon. A couple of years ago when the woman on the comet trail was murdered while running some friends and I took a self defense class that was offered by the Bert Show. This class also recommended using a Kubotan as a self defense tool. It is a key chain that can help protect yourself if the situation comes up. I highly recommend getting one. This is the link to what exactly it is through wikipedia.


    Hope this helps

  • Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for being willing to share the story on your blog. It’s always good to be reminded of your great safety tips. You are such a strong and amazing person to have gotten through it all and then finished your run.

  • You are inspiring! Stay strong and positive! Mobile’s crime is getting out of control but Im certainly going to do my part to spread the word, and his picture.

  • Thanks for posting this information. I often walk the wooded trails at Cottage Hill Park alone (well, almost alone, I always have my Boxers with me). The advice you gave is valuable. Also, you can contact any martial arts school in your area and inquire about women’s safety training. They almost always have a training course.

  • I have run that same route for a year or more except for Sutton Place. My friend and I were in the habit of running at the same time. We felt pretty safe. My pace is a little faster than hers. We were dumb and both ran with earbuds in place. We realized one morning we would not hear each other if something happened. We went home that night. Gave our husbands our route, which they didn’t know. We had always carried our phones so we added EXTRA equipment the next run. Pepper Spray on her and a 22 magnum on my arm that fit nicely into a Nike iPod case. The gun is easily accessible . Very comfy to run with. I am also able to fit my pistol permit in there. I hope you are healing well. Running keeps your mind strong. Thanks for sharing .

  • Kudos to you. The healing began the minute you called the police and finished your run. As a retired cop, I experienced domestic violence from my husband. Someone I trusted, but was sucker-punched from behind, strangled, and almost died. I had over 20 years of training; defensive and offensive training, but that didn’t hold a candle to my assault….with the exception of survival how I was trained to survive in a situation like I encountered that night. Yes, you need training for survival … though it’s a natural instinct to fight back, having the tools you need will make your life much better. You have an inspirational story that touched a lot of people, and knowing how and when to take action will make you feel empowered to live your life according to your own style. Your “scars” will heal; your strength of life will live forever! Stay safe.

  • Oh honey, this is so horrible. Thank God you are okay. You are such an example and such a strong woman. Thank you for being so brave and even more incredible that you completed your run. I am so glad they have him on video and I will say prayers every day until this sick person is caught. The advice you gave is spot on – it will definitely make me and other runners think before heading outside for a run. Thinking about you – I love you Liz!

  • Elizabeth–I don’t know what to say except that I am very sorry you went through this. What an awful thing–no one should ever have to deal with that. I am so happy you are ok. Thanks for sharing your experience–I’ll take your words to heart.

  • Medal of Honor Park is one of my favorite “alone” walking spots–especially in the woods. I was totally paranoid and carried pepper spray and looked behind me every two minutes. I decided not to let fear rule me and have been walking through there at ease for a year or two. Perhaps your warning will serve us all–be prepared even when you are not letting fear rule your life. I agree with the previous poster– you did nothing wrong. That creep did. What a strong wonderful woman you are to advise others and be strong enough to spread the word to catch this creep! Peace to you.

  • Oh honey, I am so sorry that you went through this. I have tears in my eyes for you. How horrific! While it could have been worse, you were attacked. I am so sorry. Believe me though, you may have just saved someone’s life by posting this. I will pass along to my readers at Mindy’s Fitness Journey, and I know that I will heed your tips. Thank you sweet girl for being so brave and sharing. God Bless! I am so proud of you for continuing your run. I hope they catch him! xxoo FFA <3

  • I am speechless and so very sorry this happened to you. 🙁 I am forwarding your story on to many friends who run regularly. I will keep you in my prayers as you continue to work through this. Hugs!

  • I’m so sorry to hear you went through this. I don’t really even know what to say and “I’m sorry” doesn’t feel like enough. But I also have to say THANK YOU for sharing your story and posting these tips because it is SO important and reminder for all runners, but especially women.

  • Ugh, this is terrible! So sorry you went through this!! So scary and violating 🙁 thanks for posting, everyone needs to be reminded to stay safe! So glad you are okay, hugs!!!

  • Elizabeth, your courage and bravery for telling your story are commendable and inspiring. I am truly sorry to know this happened and I’m truly honored to have “met” you through your blog today. I can only hope your words help another runner stay out of harms way and that you never have to endure such a violent attack again. You did absolutely nothing wrong; he is the criminal.

    Run safe, girl. Till then, I’ll do my best to help you circulate this picture to catch the monster.

  • I live in Cleveland and often run along the Ohio and Erie canal path which is parallel to a main road. In the past three years I have had two incidences where a man has rode past me on a bike, turned around and tried to question/approach me. Both times I shouted for him to not speak and phoned police. Some people act like I was overreacting but I always trust my gut.

  • I am so sorry this happened to you! I hope they catch this disgusting person! Thanks for the reminders of how to stay safe, it is so important! Hope you are feeling better soon.

  • omg Elizabeth I’m so sorry this happened to you. I always get a little jumpy if I run at night since I run alone. This definitely proves that we are not as safe as we think we are. Good for you for not letting him take your love of running. I’ll heed your advice for sure.

  • I saw your blog on fb. I am so sorry this happened to you and I am thankful to God that you are okay. I shared your story on my fb page as my sister lives in the area and is an avid runner as well. Thanks for sharing your story. It may save another person from being assaulted. God Bless you and keep safe.

  • I am so very sorry this happened to you. How scary. I hope that your story get around to enough people that someone will turn him in. I will be sharing this to my running friends and family to help keep them aware of these safety tips. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure it was difficult.

  • I am so sorry that you had to experience this; but, certainly glad that you are here to tell us about it. I think about the things that you’ve mentioned when I go out for a run/walk and you’re right, once we’re in a “zone” we kind of lose ourselves. I applaud your tenacity to finish what you started and not let this CREEP stop your fit way of life.

  • Thanks for your post. I love that you finished your 10 miles! I live in Mississippi now, but lived in Mobile off Grelot & then off Hillcrest Rd. during middle & high school. I would have felt super safe in those areas as well. On a side note: My 1st 10 mile marathon training run on my own was in downtown Atlanta & I had to start before daylight as it was in July. I never ran so fast! Had my phone but no mace. I’ll start taking it with me on my runs again!

  • THank you for sharing your story and I am sorry this happened to you. Thank you for your advice as I love to just go out without a phone or anything because I see it as “me” time. I think the phone will just have to be silenced now.
    Stay safe out there.

  • I have encountered this guy in the trails at Cottage Hill Park. It was a busy Saturday and from a previous experience I always carry mace with me. I was rounding a bend and there he stood about 25 feet way from me, and as he saw me he immediately began to run in the same direction I would be going had I continued on my planned path. I quickly turned and sprinted out to the sidewalk, to the parking lot as fast as I could go. I saw him a few weeks later almost in the same area as the last time, but I got out of there this time long before I got too close again. I stopped running the trails alone since then. After reading your story, which makes me hurt for you, and angers me toward this jerk, I will call the police when I have red flags. I will not wait for something to happen to me or one of my sister runners, to make a call.

    • I see people who give me the creeps all the time and I tell myself I’m being silly every time. You, on the other hand, listen to that still, small voice in your head, and consequently, were kept safe. You have to know if you hadn’t, you’d be the one telling this story. While we can’t call the police every time we see something strange, we can take action when our gut tells us to. Thanks reminding me how important it is to listen to it!

  • I just don’t think there are any words that I can say. I don’t know what to say. Other than you are tough, a fighter, and I’m glad you finished your run.

    I pray that they catch this man before he assaults any more women.

  • I just don’t think there are any words that I can say. I don’t know what to say. Other than you are tough, a fighter, and I’m glad you finished your run.

    I pray that they catch this man before he assaults any more women.

  • Hugs to you Elizabeth. I am so sorry you had to go through this and so proud of you for being strong after and for sharing. This story is going to help a lot of people, though I am so sad such a good friend had to experience it.

  • I’m so relieved you are OK! Elizabeth, that is extremely scary. Thank you for posting this, even though it may be hard to retell. You are an amazing person and runner…so definitely don’t let this asshat take that away from you! <3

  • I’m so glad you are safe!!! Thank you so much for sharing and do not apologize for length – if this helps you work through it, write again!!! or anything else you need. I will be praying that the fear/unease leaves quickly so that your joy in running never leaves. I appreciate your safety tips as well. We all need to be reminded of these – you get comfortable and tend to “forget” the basics.

  • Elizabeth, someone sent me this link because the same thing happened to me about a month ago. I was in a neighborhood right at airport and hillcrest, had both ear buds in, and never heard him coming. I didn’t even have time to react or scream. That is what really scared me–the fact that it happened so fast and I was completely caught off guard and defenseless. By the time I turned around he was running away so I just saw the back of him but that looks like the same guy. I also made a police report. I hate that he has been continuing to grope unsuspecting joggers but am so glad you shared and brought awareness to this. It’s very scary realizing how helpless you can be when caught off guard and I have tried to really pay more attention to my surroundings, although i still catch myself zoning out. Hope they catch him before he hurts anybody.

  • I’m so sorry that this happened to you! But please know, that you didn’t fail at all. We should be free to run and listen to music or free to run and zone out a bit without having to worry about being attacked. You did nothing wrong. He did everything wrong.

    I’m glad you had family not far away and I’m really glad there is camera footage. I hope they can catch him.

  • I am sorry for what happened! Thank you for sharing this experience -I shared this on FB and my friend who lives in right that area saw it – I am glad she has been warned. This is a good reminder for all runners .

  • So scary. So glad you are okay and very much appreciate you sharing your story and all of these important safety reminders. You must be very shaken up. Hugs to you and stay safe on your next run!!!

  • Wow! I am so very sorry that this happened to you, but I applaud you for sharing this for other runners.

    I am very guilty of some of your warnings. So thankyou for posting!

  • Oh my goodness!! I just got your e-mail and thought I would check out your blog and I literally read this with my mouth open the entire time!! Thank God you are alright. I do most (if not all) of my running on a treadmill due to the fact that I live out in the woods. Scary woods.
    I look forward to getting to know you this week with the Elf challenges! Keep your chin up!

  • Thanking God you’re doing as well as you are and not any worst off as a result of this horrific situation. I’m here with my hear beating extremely fast because I ran to catch a bus at 6am Friday AM in ATL while visiting AND didn’t feel safe at all (mace in one hand and a knife in the next). And while walking back home the men on the street made it known I was attractive so I power walked/ran. This evening I decided to get in my LR since it’s going to be too cold for my islands lungs solo and of course it wasn’t the smartest idea. I’m just thinking of all that could have happened to me and it’s sad we as women cannot run safely when ever we choose. This “was” my last run in the dark (Thursday I felt a guy was following me as I ran back to my aunt’s house in ATL trying to figure out where I would need to catch the bus in the AM on Friday but he kept on his way as I turned into their condominium so I’m all torn with your situation). Praying for safety and that he’s caught ASAP. Thanks for sharing.

  • I am so sorry this happened to you, but I am grateful that you are okay (as well as you can be). Thank you for sharing, and the tips. We runners need to remember that bad people are out there, and we need to watch out for ourselves.

  • I am so incredibly sorry that this happened to you! Thank you so much for sharing your story. My husband bought me some shorts with a holster sewn in them…I will most definitely make it a habit to put them on and protet myself. Hugs to you!

  • I am so sorry that this happened to you and thank you for sharing your story. I am a runner and I LOVE to run outside too but had a scary incident happen to me this past summer that has sadly changed my feelings for running outdoors. It is a sad world we live in where we (as women especially) have to be scared to workout outside. I will also pass this along to my readers. Stay safe. Hugs!

  • I am so sorry that this happened to you but I am really grateful that you posted about it — including all of the details. You have some great tips too.

  • My friend, there is nothing I can say here that others haven’t said or that I haven’t already told you. But I am so proud of you for being strong and handling this like the strong woman that you are and not a victim. Thanks for sharing. I am so glad that it has gotten the response that it has and I hope to God that they catch that disgusting, awful man. Love you! xoxo

  • Thank you so much for going public with what happened to you. I live in Regency and I run 4 miles every morning and 10 miles every Saturday. I was probably a couple of hours behind you Saturday morning in the very same areas you were running in My husband always trys to get me to carry my pepper spray in my hand instead of zipped in my pocket and to take my cell phone. I always decline to take my phone with me because I don’t like the weight. Thanks to you coming forward, I’ll do both now. I know it was a frightening, horrible experience. I applaude you for your bravery and your determination not to let this deter you from doing what you love!

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you. I run this route all the time and never felt unsafe. It makes me so angry that this can happen in broad daylight and in a nice and what I thought safe area of Mobile. Because of this I did change my route up yesterday. Thanks for blogging about it. Its not been that publicized here. A friend texted me about it and I had to search on local news website.

  • What Marnee said is right – you did nothing wrong. It is not your fault. I was assaulted while running when I was 14 and it affected me greatly. I’m so glad you have others help you right away and pay attention to what happened. Most importantly, you are talking about it and getting support.

    Running is part of you. It will never, ever be taken from you, not by anyone.

  • Shit! I’m so sorry I am reading this.. should never happen to anyone! I’m glad you’re not letting this guy take running away from you. I thank God nothing worse happened to you and that you are using your blog to make other runners aware and educate themselves. Huge hug.

  • Thank you for posting this – and reminding us all that we need to take steps to protect ourselves out there. So glad that you are physically OK – what a creep, and he was smiling?! Disgusting people out there…

  • So sorry that you had to experience something like this. I am also glad to hear that something worse did not happen. I follow each and every one of your safety tips above because even though I feel safe I do not take any chances. I hope that catch him and stop him from hurting more people. I also think it is great that you have such a positive attitude and will not let him take running away from you. Be safe!

  • I am SO sorry this happened to you. but i applaud you for talking about it and making sure us female runners are aware that this could happen to any of us, no matter our age, runner’s pace or location.

    I hope they catch the guy. Thank you for also refusing to let him take your passion from you. Again, I am so impressed and can’t thank you enough for your strength.

    -Carmel (TLVO)

  • Hey I just found your blog through this awful ordeal. I know some people aren’t able to yell and scream, as they are threatened but I was sexually assaulted and it never led to rape….they think that’s because most predators act on impulse and that reacting can actually snap them out of it. I am so happy to hear you are ok and my heart goes out to you as I know how you must feel to have been violated in that way. I know you don’t think this, but I don’t want you to EVER think that any of this is your fault….as it NEVER is.

    please be safe 🙂 xoxox thanks for being brave enough to share your story

  • Hey, this is Trang, your October runner swag swapper. I came upon your blog post via Running with Spatulas. Thank you, thank you for being ok. I’m glad to know this idiot didn’t break your spirit, but I’m also thankful you are safe.

  • I’ve been out of the blogging loop for awhile, but someone posted this on facebook! I’m so glad you are safe, and fought back and have a good lead on catching him. Those are great tips to keep you safe!

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  • Thank you so much for sharing your story! and the very same day too. your courage to post this is incredible! i am heartbroken (but not surprised) that this happened in my beloved hometown but sometimes a story like this has to happen so that it or something worse doesn’t happen. i will definitely be more careful when i run!

  • This creep needs to be put away! I saw his picture on the news tonight, it’s a face as much as I would like to I will Never forget his face! Several years ago I lived in Autumn Ridge, he obviously had watched me as I worked in my yard, after I went in, he came to my porch, went to the bedroom windows first looking in , I immediately called 911, he continued to look in the window , before the police arrived he walked to the front yard and just stood there!Apparently there was another woman on Welborbne that had also called the police when he did the same thing!

  • This is horrible. I’m so sorry that it happened to you, but I’m so glad you had your phone with you. Thanks for the reminder to always be aware of our surroundings and try and be as safe as possible.

  • So glad you are ok and he was caught. I’m so sorry though you had to go through this. 🙁 this is part of my worst nightmare when it comes to running. Such sickos. I’m also happy to hear that you will keep running! You’re amazingly strong!

  • Hi. So thankful you were not physically hurt. I know mentally its gotta be rough. I had a weird episode on a road running alone with a white van that passed me then slowed a bit when it passed me by again in the opposite direction. Who knows what that was but I didn’t feel good about it. I do try to be aware o my surroundings and I listen to my music through my phone speaker. I also run in a park that has a loop and for the most part feel safe but some days I’m totally alone. I spoke with an officer about civilian tasers. He said they were anywhere from 20 to 30 bucks. It gives a 30 sec shock. Long enough to run away for help or dial 911. I’m hunting for something small enough to carry while running. Ill let you know why I find if you are interested or anyone else for tht matter. Men of that sort needs an ass whippin’ and a taser! 😉

    Hope your runs become more confident and less scary.
    Take care.

  • THANK YOU FOR SHARING. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to share a link on my blog. I recently moved just slightly out of the city-center, and into a more neighborhood feeling area, but both areas have seen runners attacked. On the running trail pprox .7 miles from my old house, a girl was attacked and actually raped. I am always so cautious when running alone, but your tips are very informative and helpful, and I would hope EVERYONE who ever runs alone or in a small group reads this post!

  • I live in Mobile and when I run outside I run at Cottage Hill Park. Thank you for sharing your story. I think too often we all take safety for granted. Keep running and best of luck! YOU ROCK!

  • OMG, I”m so sorry this happened to you!!!! I’m really glad that women turned around and was able to be there with you and also to provide many helpful hints to find this guy. I hope you feel better by now! Take care of you!!!

  • Wow, crying while reading. Found your blog through “Run LIke A Mother” post on Facebook. Thank you for the safety advice reminders, I think we all know most of them – but it takes us hearing of things like this to remind us. Stay STRONG!

  • I’m so sorry that this happened to you and glad the guy was caught. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us all–especially women–to do the simple things to stay safe while running. I know that I’ll be signing up for a self-defense class soon. Thanks again!

  • Oh my god, I just found your blog and this post through another blogger. I just wanted to say that I can imagine how scared your were as I was once grabbed by a homeless man, but not to this extent. I am so sorry this happened to you, but more than anything I’m glad you are safe and shared this story to remind people how important it is to be aware and run safe.

    Hope you’re doing ok.

  • I am so sorry that this happened to you. It’s crazy to think that this stuff happens to people even when they are in safe, well known neighborhoods. I am glad you are okay and I look up to you for finishing your run! Awesome job in doing that! I don’t think most people would be able to finish it after something like that, so props to you!

  • I am so so so so sorry Elizabeth. I am just catching up now on blogs, and I am sorry I wasn’t here for you sooner. I will 100% be signing up for a self-defense class. If there is ANYTHING I can do for you, please let me know. LOVE YOU!

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  • I cannot believe this happened to you, Elizabeth. I have been woefully behind reading some of my favorite blogs and when I read this I was in complete shock. I am SO glad you are ok and SO sorry you had to experience this awful and frightening situation. I think all of the tips and thoughts you share are spot on. Someone was recently groped in the same way in Grant Park near a street I run by often at 6:30 a.m. It shouldn’t be scary to run but we have to be smart. I’m here if you need anything or if you want to run together (although you are getting so fast these days I probably won’t be able to keep up anymore). I’m thinking about you and am glad you’ve had some awesome PRs since this happened to show this guy what’s up. xoxo

  • I am so so sorry this happened to you. It’s so inspirational that you are being so strong and not allowing this jerk to ruin your hobby. Keep on doing it. And thanks for the reminder/lesson about safety too. A runner in my town recently experienced something similar (she was stabbed in the throat on a trail that I run on frequently) and it sort of threw me for a loop as a reminder to protect myself. I recently wrote a post about it, and I’m not posting to get you to visit my blog, but rather so you can read it if it is of interest to you: http://beccarun.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/protecting-yourself-while-running/.

  • I am so sorry that happened to you! I found your site and this post when I was researching running with mace for a post on my blog. So scary! That’s it I’m going to get some mace!

  • So very sorry this happened to you. Being attacked while running is a terrible thing and despite carrying Halt, I also now need to take a self defense class, and learn how to handle dogs!

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  • Hello All, First of all, thank you, Elizabeth for posting your story. It was brave of you to share your personal attack to help others. Secondly, is the reason I’m posting. I am a female personal trainer and avid outdoor hiker, runner & cyclist. I am constantly aware that I am a small woman, often exercising alone and in the early hours of the morning. I want to start a support group in my area for women who have been attacked and no longer want to exercise because of it. I also have designed an app (On paper, I can’t write code and it costs $10,000 to have someone design it for me) which I want to be a free app for women to use to enable someone to be aware of their route and expected return time. Please contact me with any thoughts, advice or contacts for this cause. I am in the Los Angeles area.

  • I am so sorry this happened to you. When I was in college, I was walking back to my dorm on night, it was snowing and I had stopped at a bridge to admire the scene. I walked on, and someone came up behind me, grabbed me. I thought it was my boyfriend, being silly. Then when the person put their hand between my legs, I thought, this isn’t my boyfriend, or else he is really drunk (it was the last night before winter break and he was already done with finals) to be doing this in public. I then realized it wasn’t my boyfriend, or anyone else I knew. I think I screamed: “what are you doing” and luckily, he let go and ran away. Yes, could have been much worse, but it was bad enough.

    That was over 30 years ago, but I can remember it very clearly. I run by myself, in the woods no less, I am a trail runner. Training for my first 100. Anyhow, yesterday I was about 2 miles away from my run goal for the day, and came upon a guy running with his leashed dog. Wouldn’t have given it a second thought, except that the guy was wearing khaki cargo shorts, a white tshirt, black socks and black shoes. Definitely had the look of someone running who wasn’t out for a planned run. Gave me high alert, especially when I saw him soon again. Certainly increased my pace for those remaining miles. Had my head on a swivel for the remaining part as well.

    Best of luck to you, glad you are okay.

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