BRAVE athlete Andrea Chance told the Gazette this week how she fought off an attacker who pounced on her when she was jogging on the outskirts of Bideford on Friday afternoon. She had just left a friend with whom she had been running and was on her way ho

BRAVE athlete Andrea Chance told the Gazette this week how she fought off an attacker who pounced on her when she was jogging on the outskirts of Bideford on Friday afternoon.She had just left a friend with whom she had been running and was on her way home when the man struck in a lane below the Londonderry housing estate.The attack has led the police to issue the warning: "Never jog alone."Andrea, a member of Bideford Amateur Athletic Club, said: "I heard footsteps behind me and all of a sudden they seemed to get really close. Then I was grabbed around the neck and thought he was trying to strangle me. I couldn't breathe. He got me in the hedge and punched me. I kicked him and he punched me twice more."But petite Andrea - just five feet and half-an-inch tall and seven stones in weight - did not give up against her stocky attacker."I just kept kicking and kicking," she said. "Then he doubled over as if in pain and moved away. I can't believe that I did it."I thought that was it. I was nearly gone. Afterwards I remember getting up from the hedge and trying to walk, but then it's a blank. I do not remember falling, but a man coming down the road in a car picked me up and called the police."A woman in a car behind came and comforted me. I do not know who they were, but would like to say a big thank you to them both."Andrea was left badly bruised around her face and with scratches across her arm as a result of the attack and was taken to Bideford Hospital for treatment.She describes her attacker as being 30-40years old, of stocky build and wearing light coloured jeans and a dark top.Police spokesman DS Barry Mitchell said: "We are treating this as a very serious incident. If she had not been fit and strong enough to fight him off, who knows what might have happened? We do not know his ultimate aim."Teams from the Tactical Aid and Major Crime groups are helping Bideford CID with the investigation," he said.House to house inquiries were being carried out in the area and officers had been stationed at static points to speak with people coming home from work and walking dogs, he said. This would be repeated in the area this Friday to look for more potential witnesses.This was a route used by quite a lot of people and some had already come forward, said DS Mitchell.But they were particularly keen to hear from specific potential witnesses seen in the lane leading up to the attack. One was a woman riding a red moped and others were a group of youths in a Peugeot 106 or Corsa sized car. "This was a very unusual event for Bideford. To have a woman attacked by a stranger in these circumstances is almost unheard of," he said."But it would be prudent for people who want to go out running or whatever to consider not doing so alone."This sentiment was echoed by Karen Curry, captain of Bideford Amateur Athletic Club."This is horrible, really horrible," she said."It is a sad thing to have to say, but the message at present is for women not to go running on their own. Someone is still out there and at this time they should find others to run with."The club had given this message to its members and would also be getting a professional in to spend time with the female members and show them what to do if they should ever encounter such a situation, she said. In addition to specific witnesses, police would also like to hear from anyone else who was in the area from the top of Northdown Road/ Londonderry/Scratchyface Lane around the time 4.30 to 5.10pm last Friday, when the attack occurred.The number to call is 08452 777444.