Professional runners have to face many challenges and compete against tough opponents. But they don’t normally train to outrun bears. However one elite runner did just that last week.
Moninda Marube, a professional runner originally from Kenya, embarked on his training run early last Wednesday morning on the Whitman Spring Road Trail in Auburn, Maine, less than an hour north of Portland. The 38-year-old had planned to run 18 miles. Six miles in, he heard a rustling in the trees. Two black bears began to cross the trail, making their way to a nearby lake. Marube stopped in his tracks, but unfortunately, the bears had spotted him.
Luckily, Marube had passed a vacant house not far up the trail.
“My initial instinct told me the best thing for you to do is just run to that house probably to save yourself there because I was not about to fight them,” he recalled.
As Marube turned to run, the bears began to chase after him. His legs carried him to the house, where he was able to open a door to a screened in porch. With only the flimsy screen for protection, Marube waited as the bears sniffed around the house before chasing each other away. He ran away in the opposite direction when he determined the path was clear. In total, Marube estimates he was on the porch for about 10 minutes.
An hour later, he finally made it to the home of Dan Campbell, the University of Maine at Farmington track coach. Marube arrived in the United States seven years ago, and was taken in by Campbell, becoming a member of his extended family. Marube is also currently a student at UMaine Farmington.
One day prior to his bear incident, Marube finished 2nd at the Bridgton, Maine 4 on the Fourth road race, where he was only chased by humans. He is also very involved with raising awareness and funds for charity. In 2015, he ran from Maine to California to raise awareness for human trafficking.
Asked if he had any advice for other runners who encountered bears, Marube suggested running later in the day.
“Please don’t be here at 5 o’clock in the morning. That’s all I can say. If you can wait, then wait.”
He also plans to invest in some pepper spray, just in case the bears ever cross his path again.