Bear experts are emphatic: You should never run from a bear.
A bear can run “as fast as a racehorse,” according to the National Park Service, and will chase an animal (like you!) they see fleeing.
But Moninda Marube, a professional marathon runner in Maine, did not take that advice when he encountered two black bears on an early morning run in the city of Auburn.
Marube was out for a run around 5 a.m. when the bears emerged from the woods onto the road, reports the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, which euphemistically headlined the story “Pair of bears join runner for a morning run near Lake Auburn.”
The Sun Journal notes that the bears were likely simply on their way to get a drink at the nearby lake. But Marube said the bears stopped and looked at him and he “had to think very fast.” There was a house about 20 yards away.
The athlete turned and sprinted toward the house, and the bears gave chase. They were about halfway caught up to him when he reached the door, which wouldn’t open at first. Luckily, he spotted a latch on it he was able to unlock to get in and then lock himself inside the home’s screened porch. Eventually, the bears ambled away.
As impressive as it is that he outran the bears, we have to emphasize again that you should never run from a bear. Even Marube admitted to the Bangor Daily News that he panicked and “did everything wrong.”
Marube also wrote about the incident on Facebook, noting the importance of making sure wildlife has space to live. “Nature needs to be preserved and not to be disturbed,” he wrote.
So what should you do if you encounter a bear? The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife writes that you should not approach the bear, but instead back away slowly and quietly. If the bear follows, continue to back away slowly.
If that doesn’t work, the department says to stand your ground and attempt to intimidate the animal by looking bigger, waving your arms, clapping or banging a stick.
And if the bear attacks you, your next actions should depend on what kind of bear you’re dealing with. If it’s a brown bear or grizzly bear, you should play dead, the National Park Service advises. And if that doesn’t work, it’s time to fight:
If you are attacked by a brown/grizzly bear, leave your pack on and PLAY DEAD. Lay ﬂat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck. Spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to turn you over. Remain still until the bear leaves the area. Fighting back usually increases the intensity of such attacks. However, if the attack persists, fight back vigorously. Use whatever you have at hand to hit the bear in the face.
However, if you’re dealing with a black bear — like the bears Marube encountered — you should not play dead. Instead, you should try to get to a secure area, and if that fails, fight back “using any object possible,” focusing on the bear’s face.
The NPS also notes one scenario in which you should never play dead is if a bear either attacks you in a tent, or stalks you and then attacks. These situations — which the NPS notes are “very rare” — indicate the bear views you as a source of food.