A 25-year-old woman training for the Chicago Marathon over the weekend said she was attacked during a morning run and saved by a stranger.
The River North runner said she began a 21-mile run around 5:45 a.m. Saturday, part of her training for her third Chicago Marathon, when she noticed she was being followed by a man.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous since her attacker is still on the loose, said the man followed her from Grand and Franklin to Franklin and Kinzie then attacked her from behind as she passed Gilt Bar on Kinzie Street.
“I was choked and strangled to the ground,” she told NBC Chicago. “While the man was on top of me a complete stranger saved my life who was walking down the street on his way to work.”
The attacker ran from the scene and the good Samaritan, Tom Cronin, called 911.
"I was so stunned by how violent the act was," Cronin said. "This was not just an attack or come up behind and bear hug. He threw her to the ground."
The man was described as being in his late 20s or early 30s and wearing a black shirt, khaki shorts and a black, flat-billed hat.
A police report was filed in the attack and Chicago police said officers patrolled the area on foot searching for the offender. An investigation remained ongoing as of Tuesday.
The victim described the attack as the “most terrifying four minutes of my life.”
"This man was vicious," she said. "He had one intention and that was to strangle me and to get me to pass out on the ground."
Had it not been for the witness who scared off the attacker, she says she doesn't know what would have happened.
"He seriously saved my life," she said.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon said it was "saddened to learn of what happened this weekend" the marathon training runner.
"We’ve reached out to the runner and we send our heartfelt support and empathy as she works through the situation," Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. "No event in Chicago brings people, neighborhoods, businesses, public safety and government agencies together more than the Chicago Marathon. We all have a stake in keeping our neighborhoods safe not just on race day, but every day.
"Well before race day, our team partners with police officers, doctors, government officials, participants and hundreds of thousands of spectators to represent the best of Chicago. All of us are working together to ensure that the race event is as safe as it can be, just as we have every year since the race's inception in 1977. We have held successful events in the past based on making runner and spectator safety the top priority, and that commitment remains in place as we plan our 2016 race."
The woman said she hopes the incident serves as a reminder for other runners.
"It's River North, you think you're in a safe neighborhood," she said. "I want this to be a message to keep your guard up."