Opinion: I'm a runner, and one man tried to ruin that paradise

I woke early this morning, and do what I do every morning – reached for my phone and instant access to the overnight news.

Dunedin police say a European man who attacked a jogger was scared off when a dog approached the two. Source: 1 NEWS

Chris Cairns had been acquitted, the city council was debating climate change, and someone had stolen the flags off a Dunedin car park building.

Then I checked my email, and one police press release immediately focused my day.

A 23-year-old woman was out enjoying a wonderful evening last night at Ross Creek, when she was attacked from behind, tied up, and assaulted.

Immediately, this got personal.

You see I'm a runner. Not a fast runner, or a particularly good runner, but I enjoy a jog … especially at Ross Creek.

It's an area of running tracks weaving in and out of bush around an idyllically set water reservoir. It's full of birdsong, and more often than not, people enjoying a break from urban life. This little native haven is only three minutes drive from the city centre.

One man has tried to ruin that paradise.

He'd later be described as European, tall and skinny, wearing black shoes, black t-shirt and black running tights (or 'skins') with white writing.

He knocked the woman to the ground, tied her up with rope he'd brought with him, and sexually assaulted her. Actually, I'm not sure it was rope, the police don't want to release that information, but the point is, he brought something with him to tie her up.

It was premeditated. He was deliberately out there to attack.

The fortuitous arrival of a light-coloured dog thankfully interrupted his vile actions, and scared him off.

Police are seeking information after a 23-year-old woman was saved from her attacker by a light-coloured dog - possibly a labrador. Source: 1 NEWS

The woman, understandably, was petrified.

She stayed in the spot, not sure if the offender was still in the area. Eventually, she scrambled to nearby Cannington Road, where she found a house and rang the police.

I've spoken to many people about this today, and many people have question why she was in a remote(ish) bush area, by herself at 9.15pm.

That's not the question that we should ask here. She has every right to be there … every right to run through Ross Creek at any time of night or day.

The question we should immediately ask is why was HE there.

Why was that detestable man lying in wait with rope, or whatever, to attack a woman out enjoying a beautiful Dunedin evening, in a beautiful Dunedin setting?

Police believe it was a random attack. The woman only sporadically runs through Ross Creek, and not always on the same route.

Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis says this type of attack is very rare in Dunedin – he can only recall five or six in the 20 years he's been working here.

He says, "It's of concern because of the nature of the premeditation, and the trauma that an attack like this will leave on a victim for the rest of their life".

Police do have leads for this offender, but they still want to hear from anyone who was at Ross Creek last night between 7pm and 10pm.

Someone must have seen this guy.

European, tall, skinny, black shoes, black t-shirt, black running tights.

I spoke with people up there today enjoying the area.

Krista Lindqvist was there last night too – at about 7pm. She said people were everywhere, enjoying the last of the beautiful day. She loves the place too. But then the fear starts to creep in.

"Dad always tells me I shouldn't come through here and it's so beautiful that I think, Oh, it's alright ... it's the last place something would happen, but yeah, it's sad, really sad.'

You're right Krista, it is sad.

Let's claim it back. Let's help the police find this guy, and reclaim Ross Creek as the wonderful place it is.

If you know anyone that was there last night, get them to call the police.

They may have seen something that's important. Something that will help them catch this criminal, and give us back our piece of paradise.