A 16-year-old runner participating in an Anchorage, Alaska trail race died Sunday during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb at Bird Ridge. A black bear attacked the unidentified teen who got lost in the trails after veering off-course, according to Park Ranger Tom Crockett.
Crocket told KTVA Alaska that the 16-year-old texted his brother, who was also racing and near the finish line to alert officials, at 12:37 p.m local time that he was “being attacked by a bear.” Race officials were able to track down the lost runner via the cell phone signal, according to the report.
Location of Bird Ridge
The runner was competing in the junior division of the race. Alaska Dispatch News reports that park rangers shot the bear in the face but the animal ran away and rangers, with the help of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, were continuing the search as of Sunday night. The open race is an all-uphill 5K up Bird Ridge with 1,035m of vertical climb. For juniors, the race reaches the halfway point before competitors make their way back down the mountain “at their leisure,” as ADN describes.
— beth verge (@ktuubeth) June 19, 2017
Alaska Dispatch News reports that the teen was pronounced dead on the scene, approximately 450m from the main trail used for the race in a heavily-wooded area. The body was airlifted away because of the rugged terrain. The bear was still in the area when the body was found, per KTVA Alaska. According to the North American Bear Centre, “most attacks by black bears attacks are defensive reactions to a person who is very close.” (Read more from the North American Bear Centre.)
A number of the runners, who had finished the race once hearing the news, helped carry medical equipment onto the mountain for medical personnel. The area remains closed off, according to KTUU Channel 2 News.