In a region of Alaska already plagued by bear attacks, University of Alaska-Anchorage track-and-field runner Auston Ellis did supposedly the wrong thing: He ran away from an attacking grizzly. But his ill-advised gamble worked, as he was able to barely outmaneuver and outrun the bear.
“I’ve never heard of a story where anyone who has run from a bear that bad things haven’t happened,” said Ellis, 21.
“It was one of those instinct things. (…) I took off and sprinted for about 20 yards or so.”
As usually happens, the bear gave chase.
It “was maybe 2 feet behind me the whole way,” Ellis said. “I was 99 percent sure I was going to get mauled, and I was about 97 percent sure I was dead.”
Ellis learned the hard way that he couldn’t outrun a charging grizzly, but just before it could chomp his butt, cartoon-style, he banked into the woods and dove into a thicket of alder. The hulking bear couldn’t manage the turn as quickly and had to stop, turn and find Ellis in the thicket, where it stared him down for several minutes. Eventually, it just left and was joined by the two cubs that likely triggered her swift and violent reaction.
Besides superior cross-country skills, Ellis had one other technique to save his tail, literally:
Instinctively, “I sucked in my butt.”
The jaws, he said, clapped shut with a snap, barely missing flesh.
Maybe we’ll have to add “suck in your butt” to our forthcoming bear safety video.
— Ted Alvarez
UAA runner races a grizzly and gets lucky (Anchorage Daily News)