Laurie and the Bear - Page 3
Nevertheless, Simons showed up the next morning. She ran with others for long stretches, until, after passing the halfway mark, she found herself alone. "I was so tired and just wanted the race to be over one way or another, whether it's an animal taking me out or crossing the line," says Simons. "Near the end, I heard crashing noises and thought, `Oh, yeah, well, come and get me.' Of course in hindsight I realize it was likely a deer but it certainly kept me moving forward."
Laurie continued to defy her fears, signing up for the Le Grizz 50-miler in October 2006. The Hungry Horse, Montana, race is whimsically named, and turns potential dangers of running through bear country into comic fodder, riffing on the name, posting many pictures of grizzlies on its website and brochures and even including encounters with wildlife in its waiver. Laurie showed her grit again, continuing on her own as the pack thinned. She finished triumphant, taking second place in the women's masters division in 9:26:57. In 2007, Simons continued to excel in trail races, including the Jemez Mountain 50K, Old Gabe 50K, Powderface42 and the HURL Elkhorn 50 mile.
Simons' return to living life on her terms necessitated an absolute acceptance of what had happened, and she draws satisfaction from the fact that the National Parks staff never located the bear that had attacked her.
"[The bear] never went beyond protecting those cubs—the fact that I'm alive shows that," says Simons. "She didn't want to meet me any more than I wanted to meet her."
Simons' scars are now covered by a mass of fine, curly hair. It's hard to fathom that this ethereally pretty, even delicate-looking woman has a will and determination of forged steel. Son Stephen says his mother's encounter was a life-changing experience. "It made her more committed to doing what she wants in life."
Trail runners can move so quickly and quietly on trails that they boost the potential for a wildlife meeting. Here's what you can do to reduce those chances.
- Check trail conditions before you leave. Many parks offer online bear updates and report on trail closures.
- Carry bear spray and know howto use it.
- Don't wear an MP3 player.
- Travel in groups.
- Make noise. Sing, talk or yell or clap hands. Make more noise near streams and on windy days. Be especially proactive in dense vegetation or berry patches.
- Stay alert for signs of bears—scat, tracks, dug-up areas or torn-up logs.
- Leave if you see any large carcasses.
Gay Renouf lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, on the Canadian prairies and runs marathons, trail races, ultras and triathlons.