Brendan Morphet was leading the Yukon Trail Marathon on August 5th when he was stopped by two grizzly bears on his path. Morphet reportedly tried yelling to scare the bears off, but his attempts had the opposite effect, and one grizzly started making its way toward the runner.
The race website says that it’s not uncommon to see a bear on the path, but that it is unusual to have a bear charge at a participant.
No one was hurt, bears included, and Morphet ended up finishing second in 3:26:51. Denise McHale won the overall title in 3:24:52. However, McHale told the CBC that Morphet had been roughly 15 minutes ahead of her before the bear incident. She was a gracious winner and said that Morphet got “kind of ripped off.”
Not every race is easy. @gemmamayrose has been dealing with knee issues for the last few months, but last Sunday she powered her way through the #yukonrivertrailmarathon for a top 10 finish. "It was rough stuff! I want to put a positive spin on it, but to be honest it was just 5 hours of pain. It was a beauty day though and everyone was awesome. Really glad I finished it. Oh and I got the crazy muscle spasm thing at the finish line in my hip flexor!! It was like an alien was in there"
Earlier this summer there was another bear attack in Alberta when two runners were out training for the Canadian Death Race. Since that incident, Lisa Lauzon, who was one of the runners attacked, has begun hosting bear spray classes to educate runners on how the product works. She said, “Bear spray saved our lives. It’s extremely effective when used properly. Everyone carries it, but so few people have actually used it.”
The Yukon River Trail Marathon director also told reporters, and reminded runners, that it’s a wilderness race. They’ve had bears before.
Runners who are entered in wilderness races should ensure they know proper procedure if they encounter a bear, and should also consider carrying bear spray.
After Lauzon’s attack a month ago she said, “I don’t want this incident to take away the peace and love that I find when I’m running in the mountains, and I don’t think it has. It’s important to get out there now and not let fear fester in my brain.” It’s not about being scared of wilderness running, it’s about making sure you’re prepared.