ONSET (CBS) – A Lowell woman attacked while running in a relay race is recalling the terrifying encounter and thanking the stranger who heard her cries for help.
Renee, who doesn’t want her last name used, was competing in the Reebok Ragnar, a 200-mile relay race from Hull to Provincetown.
During a leg of the race on Onset Avenue in Onset she had the feeling someone was following her and it wasn’t another runner.
“I started to pick up the pace because I felt like he was too close and could have gone around me,” she recalled. “I was concerned why he wasn’t going around me.”
It was 10 p.m. during the race that runs straight through for two days, and she had fallen behind other runners on her way to the next checkpoint. She felt someone suddenly grab her.
“He jumped on me, had his arms around my neck and pushed me to the ground. He was choking me, strangling me and shushing me,” Renee told WBZ-TV.
Her only hope was that someone would hear her.
“I was trying to yell but I was getting dizzy too. I was just trying to save my life really,” she said.
From her front porch, neighbor Pam Franklin heard the struggle and started walking toward it.
“The woman yelled ‘I don’t know you’. I asked if she needed help, ‘Are you OK?’ and she asked me to call 911,” said Franklin.
It was enough to startle the attacker, who fled the scene.
“I didn’t think he was going to stop, I was very scared,” said Renee.
For Renee, an avid runner, the Ragnar has been one of her goals. But the experience has left her shaken.
She believes Franklin prevented serious injury and may have even saved her life.
“I was very happy that I was able to help her. I’m happy that she’s going to be OK,” said Franklin.
In a statement Ragnar Relay said, “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our runners. We are working with our internal staff and local authorities to review the events.”
Renee was checked out at the hospital but returned to the race to finish it.
“I was determined he wasn’t going to stop me,” she said.