DORI MONSON

Two years after attack, Kelly Herron to launch self-defense class series

Mar 26, 2019, 7:26 PM
Seattle runner, gary steiner, Green Lake attack, Kelly Herron, self-defense...
Kelly Herron fought off Gary Steiner when he assaulted her inside a bathroom at Seattle's Golden Gardens Park in March 2017. (Colleen O'Brien/KIRO Radio)
(Colleen O'Brien/KIRO Radio)

Two years after fighting off a brutal attacker at Golden Gardens, runner Kelly Herron plans to help other Seattle-area female runners feel safer when exercising through a new series of self-defense classes.

In partnership with instructor Jordan Giarratano of Fighting Chance Seattle, Herron is teaching a free class on self-defense this Saturday morning at Optimism Brewing in Capitol Hill. Saturday’s event at Optimism will be a kind of kick-off for a larger series of self-defense classes that Herron and Giarratano will teach over the summer.

Herron herself had taken a self-defense class with Giarratano through Fighting Chance just three weeks before the March 2017 attack.

RELATED: Hundreds attend self-defense class after Golden Garden attack

“Because I was so grateful that I had taken that self-defense class from Fighting Chance Seattle, which came to my workplace, I truly feel that enabled me to save my own life that day,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “From that point forward, I just wanted people to know, you have that power in your hands, we don’t have to walk around in fear.”

Herron was on a run at Golden Gardens in Ballard when 40-year-old Gary Steiner attempted to rape her in the bathroom. Herron fought him off with techniques she had learned in the course, locking him in the bathroom until police arrived.

“There’s this thought that self-defense is some kind of series of complicated moves and patterns that you have to remember,” she said. “The thing that I love about the way that Fighting Chance Seattle teaches is, it’s really about awareness and a couple simple things.”

Rather than having to memorize “how to throw the perfect punch,” Fighting Chance focuses on simpler strategies such as “throwing strikes, and showing that you’re not afraid even when you are, and just knowing where to deliver those hits, and the kind of presence to have in the face of an attacker,” she said.

The class is directed at “Seattle female runners who … like to run outside and feel safe, to know how to identify potential threats and avoid potentially dangerous situations and to just know what to do in the absolute worst case scenario.”

To learn more about the event and about how to register for this class and future classes, visit Herron’s website, Not Today.

Since the attack, Herron has moved out of Seattle to Vancouver, WA, calling it “the best decision I could have made.” She had previously told Dori that local government leaders have not worked hard enough to make Seattle’s streets safer for women.

“I love Seattle and I don’t want to speak poorly of it, but when I see what’s happening to my friends and my former coworkers, not only is it not getting better, but it’s getting worse,” she said.

However, Herron herself is devoting her career to making those streets less of a threat for other Puget Sound runners. Through her new business, Not Today — named for the phrase she yelled at her attacker, “Not today, [expletive]!” —  Herron is helping coach running and running safety with Running Evolution in Seattle and Vancouver WA.

“I’m just carrying that mission forward … trying to create new runners and also to help runners and other people just feel safe in their daily activities and commuting,” she said.

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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Two years after attack, Kelly Herron to launch self-defense class series