Laurie and the Bear
A woman takes up trail running to overcome her fears
Laurie Simons was 30 miles into the 50-mile trail race called the Le Grizz Ultramarathon, near Glacier National Park, ...
Photo by Mike Renouf
Laurie Simons was 30 miles into the 50-mile trail race called the Le Grizz Ultramarathon, near Glacier National Park, Montana, when she heard loud crashing in the bush. Her heart was pounding, but the 41-year-old runner from Regina, Saskatchewan, moved toward the racket and looked over the road's edge. She could breathe again; none of the eponymous animals of the race were in sight. Most runners tackling the 50-mile course in bear country worry about meeting wildlife, but Simons had more reason than the others—just one year prior, she had been attacked by a grizzly bear.
In June 2005, Simons was offered a four-month work term at the Banff Center for the Arts, where she could pursue her two passions of furthering her career as a theatrical scenic painter and being active in the outdoors. Her grown sons, Sean and Stephen, stayed in Regina while Laurie moved to Banff, Alberta, ready to explore Banff National Park's trails. Bear evidence was everywhere that summer; scat was ubiquitous on the town's paved paths and trails. And on just her second day there, Simons awoke to the news of fellow runner Isabelle Dube's death by a grizzly in nearby Canmore.