Running is bad for your health. I’ve been saying that for years, but, for some reason, people don’t listen to me. You still hear about people going out and running, and bad things happen to these people. I mean besides getting real tired. Well, I’ll bet Karen Williams will pay more attention to my column in the future.
Karen was running in the Valles Caldera Marathon in New Mexico recently, and was less than three miles from the finish line when she topped a hill and ran smack dab into a bear—literally. And this was not just any bear. It was a mama bear with cubs, which, as you know if you’re an expert on bears, as I am, is the worst kind of bear to run into.
The problem with mama bears is that they’re unreasonable. As far as I know, there has never been a case where a tired, unarmed woman wearing shorts and a T-shirt has damaged a bear in any way, but do you think Karen was able to impress this fact on the mama bear? She was not. So the bear mauled Karen until she played dead for a while, and then she went back to engaging in your typical bear-type activities, such as growling and slapping her cubs around.
The interesting part of this story (to me, at least, since the whole story was probably very interesting to Karen) was something Karen said in an interview about the attack. She was talking to Shawn Setaro, who was writing for Com Plex. Shawn hosts a ‘critically acclaimed hip-hop podcast.’ I have no idea what that even means, but it evidently doesn’t pay a lot if Shawn has to moonlight for Com Plex.
Anyway, Karen said that, when the bear attacked her, she cried out in pain, “and Mama bear didn’t like that so she hit me with a left hook and bit my neck.”
Now, your average journalist would probably just report that and go right on, but not me. No, sir. I did a little digging, and found that most bears are right-handed, just like most people, which is why the left hook caught my eye. This is the kind of attention to detail that makes me, as a writer, one of the best ditch diggers in the country.
My research department, Pat Wentworth, sent me a story a while back from KOKE FM, which bills itself as ‘Austin’s Country Alternative.’ I have no idea what that even means, but the story was about a 61-year-old Ontario man who was attacked by a ‘GIANT BEAR.’ The story later said the bear weighed about 300 pounds, which doesn’t say a lot for KOKE’s credibility, but there you go.
Rick Nelson, of Sudbury, Ontario, was out walking his dog recently when a bear cub came out of a bush, saw Rick, and started whining for its mama. So the cub’s 300-pound mama, who was right behind the cub, decided Rick was being rude to her cub, and attacked. Not good.
Now, if I’d been in Rick’s situation, I would have immediately tested my theory that I can outrun a bear. I know, you’re thinking that’s ridiculous, since bears can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour. But I’m thinking that, if a bear is after me, I could probably hit 45 or so. The dog would have been on his own.
Not Rick. He squared off and met mama coming in, giving her a poke in the nose. Luckily the cub started to wander off, so mama only took one or two swipes at Rick and then went after the cub. I guess she left Rick standing there shouting taunts at her, with blood running from claw marks on the left side of his face and his left shoulder. I wouldn’t mess with Rick, if I were you. Or me.
But the interesting thing about this story (to me, at least, since the whole story was probably very interesting to Rick) was something Rick said in the interview with KOKE. He claimed to know that most bears are right-handed, so before she swung at him, he knew where he’d have an opening, which is how he managed to punch her in the face.
So what I’m wondering is, what would’ve happened in the Rick vs. Mama Bear bout if the bear Rick ran into had turned out to be, no pun intended, a South Paw? Because bears don’t have hands, you know, they have paws. And if you watched Rocky IXDB you know where the term South Paw came from.
Anyway, the really interesting thing about both these stories (to me, at least, since the whole stories were probably very interesting to Karen and Rick) is that Both These Mama Bears Were Black Bears. Which proves that Black Bears Matter, especially when they have cubs.
So the moral of the story is: don’t run. But if you do, take Rick Nelson with you. That’s what I plan to do. Because no matter how much black bears matter, they don’t matter as much as I matter.
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never runs, unless a bear is chasing him. And then he runs like the wind blows. Write to him at [email protected].