Portland long-distance runner Emily Infeld isn’t at the Tokyo Olympics this week. An extraordinary story published Saturday by ESPN says that’s because she was pursued for three years by a threatening stalker who moved across the country to Portland, forcing Infeld to flee to Atlanta and derailing her Olympic hopes.
The ESPN story chronicles Infeld’s past three years dealing with an alleged stalker named Craig Donnelly.
For the past eight years, Infeld has been part of the famed Bowerman Track Club, a professional running group that’s sponsored by Nike and trains at its headquarters in Beaverton. She competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she placed 11th in the 10,000-meter race.
Donnelly, himself a former distance runner, underwent a severe personality change after doctors removed a portion of his brain after he fell and hit his head in 2016.
The ESPN story says Donnelly started harassing Infield online in 2018, and the pursuit intensified over the next three years. He started sending her voicemails about a future wedding between them; he sent a package via FedEx to her home in Oregon. She got a permanent stalking protective order from Multnomah County Circuit Court and then didn’t hear from Donnelly for nearly a year and a half.
But Donnelly reemerged on social media in 2020, claiming on platforms that he had been Infeld’s coach and, in others, that he was her ex-husband.
Donnelly moved to Portland in June 2020. Shortly after, he moved again, only 2 miles from Infeld’s home.
“Your stalker...has rented a place 2 miles away from your house,” Infeld recalls being told by a security team member hired by Nike. “And he has posted on LinkedIn that he was coming to Portland specifically to kill you.”
Infeld fled to Atlanta but told ESPN that Nike pressured her to return to satisfy race requirements. Nike denied this to ESPN in a statement.
Along with being a gripping true-crime read, the story provides a glimpse into the insular world of Nike training, a culture that exists on the edge of Portland but that this city rarely sees until the athletes appear at U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene or on Olympic television broadcasts. It also intersects with another Portland trend: the slow response of the Portland Police Bureau to anything other than protests.
Multnomah County charged Donnelly with six counts of violating the protection order. But he fled the state, and Portland police repeatedly told Infeld they couldn’t take any further action when he was outside the state, ESPN reported. The bureau blames low staffing and resources strapped by responding to 100 consecutive nights of protests.
“I know that a lot of crime victims felt as though their cases weren’t being followed up on and, in many cases, they weren’t,” police spokesman Sgt. Greg Pashley told ESPN.
Donnelly was arrested in Tennessee in June 2021. He’s currently in custody on federal charges of cyberstalking and violating the protection order. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Infeld told ESPN that when she started sharing her story of harassment and stalking, many other women athletes started sharing their experiences, too.
“We still put this bar under our door at night, we still have our security system up, and I think we’re just going to keep that in our everyday routine,” Infeld told ESPN.