Story at a glance

  • Emily Infield is a former Olympian and one of the top long-distance runners in the United States.
  • Since 2018, she has been living in fear of a stalker who harassed her both online and in person.
  • The stalker was finally arrested last year, just ahead of the rescheduled Olympic trials.

Runner Emily Infeld's stalker is behind bars now. But he took with him her Olympic dreams, forcing her to live a nightmare instead. 

One of the nation's top distance runners, a medalist at the 2015 world championship and a 2016 Olympian, Infeld first heard from Craig Donnelly in April 2018, reported ESPN. It started with Facebook messages, then calls from an unknown number, a strange delivery and finally ended with a protective order — or so she thought. In June 2020, just weeks ahead of the rescheduled Olympic trials, her stalker came back with death threats. 

"I'd worked so hard to become a good runner, but in a singular moment, it felt like all of that was being taken away from me," Infeld told ESPN. "My life was no longer in my control. I mean, I was running away from my home and I kept thinking, 'Is this even real? Is this really happening to me?'"


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


Donnelly was ultimately arrested and taken into federal custody for cyberstalking and interstate violation of a protection order, reported ESPN, in one of only eight cyberstalking cases the Portland office has prosecuted over the past three years. Distracted by the case, Infeld didn’t qualify for the Olympics — but she’s still considered one of the lucky ones. 

One in 3 women under 35 say they have been sexually harassed online, according to the Pew Research Center, and 84 percent of women surveyed by Runner's World have been harassed while running. 

"Just the quantity of messages from people that are like, 'I'm going through something so similar,' just made me so angry," Infeld told ESPN. "I felt super supported and loved, but I also felt so sad that our system is not helping any of these victims — and all of the onus is on the victim to protect themselves."


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

SOCCER STAR MEGAN RAPINOE TAKES ON NBA STAR DRAYMOND GREEN OVER WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT

THESE 10 INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN SHOULD BE HOUSEHOLD NAMES—HERE’S WHY THEY ARE NOT

WHO SAYS ONE-THIRD OF ALL WOMEN ENCOUNTER PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL VIOLENCE

CHLOE ZHAO BECOMES FIRST ASIAN FEMALE DIRECTOR TO TAKE HOME A GOLDEN GLOBE WITH HER FILM ‘NOMADLAND’

PARK POLICE TAPS FIRST BLACK FEMALE CHIEF


 

Published on Jul 30, 2021