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Marathon runner survives scary encounter with bear

🕐 3 min read

The attack happened just a few miles from the finish line, Karen Williams wrote on Facebook.

She had hit a “little rise” in the marathon course, where there was “some sort of seep or pond or mucky area,” she wrote. That’s where she came across a black bear, which was about 15 feet away – and charging toward her.

Williams said that she screamed “No!” as she put her arms up.

Then, she spotted the bear cub.

“I was on my [rear] and being raked with claws and bitten,” wrote Williams.

She was the victim of a bear attack, which left her battered but still alive. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish said in a news release that the incident at Valles Caldera National Preserve occurred Saturday afternoon, when “the victim surprised a mother bear whose cub ran up a nearby tree.”

“I cried out in pain and Mama bear did not like that so she hit me with a left hook and bit my neck and started to try to shake me,” Williams wrote, recalling the attack. “I rolled into a ball and played dead.”

Apparently, it worked. The mother bear left Williams and made its way over to a tree that her cub had climbed.

“The cub cried a bit while trying to get down the tree,” Williams wrote. “Mama bear kept glancing my way to make sure that I was still ‘dead’. I was at that point afraid I might die.”

Williams suffered serious injuries to her upper body, head and neck during Saturday’s encounter, the Department of Game and Fish said in a release. She was airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

“We were very panicked. We had Park Service rangers with us; they immediately got all their processes going,” race director Kris Kern told The Washington Post in a phone interview, in which he said officials learned of the attack via text message. “They alerted dispatch, 911, their headquarters.”

The attack, which occurred during the Valles Caldera Runs, happened after Williams‎ had left an aid station and had traveled about a mile through a large meadow, Kern said.

“Just before she left the meadow, she ran into the bear,” he said.

Authorities tracked down the female adult black bear that attacked Williams, a release stated. The bear, which had three cubs, was euthanized.

“It is regrettable when a wildlife encounter results in human injuries and requires we euthanize the animal,” said Alexandra Sandoval, the department’s director, in the release. “We are thankful that the injuries sustained by the victim were not worse and are hopeful that she is able to recover quickly.”

The bear was part of a study and was wearing a collar with a tracking device, which helped authorities determine where it was when the attack occurred. The release said that officers were “confident” that they captured the correct bear.

“After 14 hours at UNMH and a cool helicopter ride and a very bumpy ambulance ride prior it turns out that I have a fractured right orbit from the mean left hook, missing parts of eyelid and eyebrow, injury to the belly of my left bicep and a lot of punctures and lacerations,” Williams wrote on Facebook. “But I am alive.”

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