There Will Be Bears

It’s no secret that running is beneficial for both the body and mind. But as I’ve harped about before, it’s not just the mind-clearing, heart-pumping endorphine-loving reasons I love running, but for the places it can take you and the sights you’ll see…thank you, Dr. Seuss. This past weekend provided this exact adventure.


I made my way home to Reno, NV to meet my brand new niece for the first time (I’m not posting more photos as I don’t know if my sis is ok with it). She’s everything you could have imagined and I can’t wait to spoil her like every good aunt should. I also got to see my favorite chunky monkey:

UntitledHe likes me even if I look like I’ve gone through a garbage disposal and smell like airplane germs.

Prior to meeting my niece, I woke up early to go running with my brother-in-law as I figured he could use some fresh air in between all his new daddy duties. We met bright and early at my parent’s house and made our way to the trail (which I clearly did not take enough advantage of when I was growing up).

While Reno is far from Portland’s lush green scenery, it felt like the mountains hadn’t turned totally brown yet and instead were graced by deep yellows and crisp air. It felt chilly yet awakening…until you started running.

Holy. Hell.

Why. Can’t. I. Breathe.


Need. More. Oxygen.

My 7:34s that I was busting out in Portland and California? HA! Nowhere to be found here as I gasped for air and struggled to keep up with my BIL. Running in Reno is running at around 4,300 ft. elevation and boy did I feel the difference. The 18-22 miles that I was supposed to run? Uh, ya. That turned into 13 miles.


But it was still worth it as something completely new happened during that run…

As I was catching up to my BIL I saw him stopped at the corner calling for his dogs to come. I approached him, he pointed and there it was. A gigantic (yes, this is the appropriate adjective here) black bear. It was far enough on the hill to not be a danger, but close enough for us to have to call his dogs in, stop and watch it pass.

I’ve seen my share of wildlife on the run and even more roadkill on the bike, but never before had I seen a bear. It was unreal. I was jumping up and down saying, “Oh my God! Oh my God!”

I tried to capture a photo but it doesn’t do it justice, so instead, here is our, “Oh shit we just saw a giant black bear while running” face:


If you’re curious about what to do if you approach a bear in the wild, everything you need to know can be gleaned from this masterpiece:

It’s basically: make that bear your bitch. Punch it in the face. Wrestle it to the ground. And then steal it’s picnic basket. Or you can read the full, real article here (which is actually kind of confusing — stand tall, play dead, fight back, no, wait, wait, climb a tree).

Anyways, we then continued to make out way through the trail and I continued to complain about the lack of oxygen – I had to make up some excuse for my horrid performance.

Regardless, it was a gorgeous morning full of adventure that reminded me of why Reno is great. Hopefully it’s a peek into why Reno isn’t just a sketchy downtown, but actually an outdoorsman’s dream.

Now tell me – any wildlife stories of your own? Tips on what to do when you approach wildlife while running?

Happy Running!

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18 Responses to There Will Be Bears

  1. MILF Runner says:

    Uhhhh…your BIL looks rather nonplussed by the whole thing and rather amused that you wanted to document said event :)

    My wildlife encounters have consisted mainly of skunks in our development on the night before trash collection day and bunnies on the trails. Once, though, I was just starting out on a solo 22-miler early in the a.m. near Tilden and I encountered a coyote. He was super chill. I don’t know…should I have been freaked? And then there was the time I had to “race” a crazed, drunken bum…

  2. Ali says:

    OMG, I love bears! I mean, not up close and personal, but from a distance! I’ve had some pretty weird wildlife encounters since I’ve been in Australia–more snakes and lizards than I’m comfortable with, but a lot of kangaroos and a few koalas, too! Oh, and bats. So many bats.

  3. Becca says:

    I ran on the slopes of one of the mountains outside my city– with spectacular views of the neighboring, active volcano– and got left behind bymy running group because I was too slow and gasping for air. On the long, solitary path back, I kept expecting for mountain lions to jump out and eat me. It didn’t happen, fortunately!

    That’s awesome that you saw a bear (and that he didn’t eat you)!

  4. Congratulations on being an aunt X2!!! Those two little ones will be lucky to have an aunt like you!
    Hate to say it but I judged Reno by it’s downtown when we drove through on our way to Tahoe! It looks gorgeous!!
    Bears can definitely be scary! I will never forget what I learned when I was little, although I’m sure it’s changed: if it’s black, fight back. If it has a hump (grizzly), turn into a lump (play dead). Now I just depend on my husband to get me through a bear sighting!!
    I’ve seen quite a few in Jasper. But my scariest bear encounter was one summer when I worked in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Let’s just say I didn’t run again for the rest of summer!
    I bet you’re getting excited for the big race!!!

  5. Sil says:

    Wow! You were close to be in one of those “I survive” TV episodes! It gives me the goosebumps…!
    I remember (it’s actually kind of fun now ) I was once -being a teenager- at a friend’s house in the countryside and as soon as we arrived I left my bag open in her room. A couple of hours later, we got back to her room and a snake -not the poisonous kind but equally disgusting- was just about to get inside my bag! We just ran away and let her mom take care of it…So courageous! :)

  6. I like to run in a T-rex suit so that I’m scarier than the bear. Oh who am I kidding? I’m too short to be a dinosaur.

    That’s a pretty cool thing to see…from distance.

  7. Whoa! That’s insane! That is definitely not something I experience in Chicago. haha

  8. Kris B says:

    Snakes in the warm weather and deer just about any time of the year. I’ve had a few jump out in front of me. The worst is when I have my dog with me. She darn near pulled my hips out once.

    Oh and painted and snapping turtles…do those count? :)

  9. On my last long run, I almost got stuck in the middle of a deer fight. Two young bucks going at it right in the middle of the trail I was running on. Actually, one came tumbling down the hill before me and then I turned and saw the other one charging down. I backpedaled as fast as I could and then became Marty Stauffer capturing an 8 second clip of their dusty tussle. (on instagram!) Sooo many deer on the trail I go on. I try talking to them to let them know I’m not dangerous and to please move out of my path. Tends to work, that or they know when to move when they sae runners coming.

    I’ve also nearly stepped on a rattle snake lying in the middle of trail years ago, almost stepped on a tarantula and have been chased by geese. :)

    I think I’d curl into a ball and cry if I ever came across a bear or mountain lion on my run.

    The trail you were running on looks like fun though. Very open scenery.

  10. Asia says:

    Omg! I’d probably poop my pants! Nicole & I are running Ragnar Relay TRAIL Vail Lake this weekend, and you are on trail. alone. at night. If we happen to approach a bob cat, I might just faint. I’m hoping I don’t see anything that spectacular! 😉

  11. Catie says:

    HOLY SHIT! A BEAR!?! We don’t have those in Kansas, thank dear baby Jesus. We don’t have elevation either, so WIN WIN for this runner. We do, however, have skunks. Which I see frequently. In the middle of the city. In a park. Once on a long run near my house (very rural) I saw a bobcat that was so big I thought it was my dog following me. I just threw a rock and scared it away, but I carry mace with me now, just to be safe.

  12. Cortney says:

    Awesome. I run in Reno/Carson City all the time, and I’ve only seen one bear up on the Tahoe Rim Trail. Glad you got to make it back to our dry little corner of Nevada to visit your family. I’d love to meet for a run next time you’re here (although you’re faster than me.)

  13. Todd Pollock says:

    One of my favorite Wild Life Stories occur to me and my friends a little over a year ago when we ran the R2R2R in the Grand Canyon. We started our run at 4:00 AM, so of course it was pitch black out. And needless to say I was nervous about the whole run as it was, let alone running narrow trails of the Grand Canyon in the dark! We were only 2 miles into our run when a Baby Skunk approached us on the trail. Ok, he/she did not approach us, as more like we approached it, and he/she was just looking for a way off the trail! And yes it was caught on video – you can see the skunk if yo ulook close enough. And yes, the screaming you hear is not little girls, but rather us ‘men’! ha! Enjoy the video – I still get a good laugh out of it.

  14. Nicole says:

    I saw a tarantula once on a trail run and that was enough for me! Although I do think it’d pretty pretty awesome to see a bear!!

  15. Kelly says:

    Oh shit! I’ve heard it depends on what kind of bear you run into and how it reacts to you, but I don’t think I could deal with all that in real life.

  16. Ariana says:

    seeing wildlife is always exciting. I live in Connecticut and while on what turned into an 80 mile hilly bike ride, I was literally hit by a black bear. It was running across someone’s front yard in a desolate area of the state. That was definitely closer than I ever want to get to a bear.

  17. Cathryn says:

    I would poo my pants if I saw a bear! I’m excited you did (as it makes a great blog-post and beer-story) but I would be terrified. So far I’ve not seen anything scary but I live in fear of mountain lions – they’ve been spotted recently here on the Peninsula!

  18. erin says:

    Crazy! I saw a black bear on the IM Canada run course this year! She couldn’t have been more than 30 feet away! Looks like a gorgeous place to run… I would be gasping for air, too, given the lack of elevation here! Have a fab weekend :)

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