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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Feb 20, 2020

Female Runner, Assault Survivor to Compete in Boston Marathon

On the heels of two women being attacked while running in Monmouth County, news broke of another local putting a similar story behind her as she prepares for one of the biggest running events in the country.

Spring Lake Heights resident will compete in the Boston Marathon as part of a community team whose members were hand-picked by an event sponsor.

Hyland’s, the Official Cramp Relief Sponsor of the Boston Marathon, chose Spring Lake Heights’ Kelly Herron to represent its team of community builders and inspirational runners. Herron founded Not Today, a defense class provider, after she was assaulted while running in 2017.

She was 10 weeks into training for her first marathon when she was brutally attacked by a person hiding in a park bathroom. She fought back using skills she had recently learned in a self-defense class, yelling “Not today, Motherf—–!” Although injured, Herron was able to trap her attacker in the bathroom until the police arrived. After surviving the attack, Herron realized the importance of being prepared for a worst-case scenario. She founded Not Today to encourage other female runners to feel safe while continuing doing what they love.

“I saw my life flash before my eyes, but I knew it wasn’t my time yet,” she said. “I wanted to promote a message of empowerment through running, self-defense and other forms of bad—ery.”

Herron has partnered with self-defense instructors across the country to teach free community self-defense classes. The Not Today classes focus on tips that Herron said saved her life: trust your instincts, react immediately, be loud and fight hard, and attack soft spots. Sharing her story has had ripple effects across the running community, Herron said.

“Every day I hear from people telling me how my story has impacted their lives, inspired them to speak their truth and share their stories, and to take action when something doesn’t feel right,” she said.

Herron started running in her mid-30s and credits the sport with turning her life around.

“At 35, I decided to get my life together,” she said. “It was not easy because partying and having fun with my friends was the only life I knew. I quit alcohol and was feeling better physically and mentally, but I was lonely without the social life to which I was accustomed.”

Herron joined a women’s running group and has so far completed two full marathons ⁠— one to overcome the past, she said, and one to embrace the present. As she trains for her first Boston, she hopes Not Today will continue to encourage people to keep doing what they love, no matter what.

The 124th running of the Boston Marathon will take place on Monday, April 20.