“Run Like There’s a Bear Chasing You”: Black Bear Joins High School Cross Country Meet

Nothing was going to stop Taylee Nyquest from securing her spot at Alaska’s cross country state championship meet.

Not even a bear.

Cross country runners from Southeast Alaska gathered in Ketchikan last Saturday for a shot to make it to the state championship, only to see the race cut short after a black bear was spotted on the course.

Nyquest, though? She kept running.

Taylee, in black, at the start of the race. (Image: KRBD.org)
Taylee, in black, at the start of the race. (Image: KRBD.org)

“To be honest, what was going through my head when I had to stop was ‘what could have my time been if I didn’t have to stop?” the Thorne Bay runner said to Ketchikan radio station KRBD.

The coaches stopped the runners at the two-mile mark of the 3.1-mile race after the bear was spotted. Once it made its way off the course and back into the woods, Taylee decided to keep running – the only runner to do so.

“I was just running and the bear was coming up from the water, and I didn’t want to keep going,” Nyquest told KRBD. “So it climbed up into the tree, and I yelled back and waited and it went into the forest on the other side so I just kept going.”

“In practice we always say, ‘Run like there’s a bear chasing you.’ I was like, well, perfect opportunity!”

Officials decided to re-run the race, though Nyquest was not required to, having finished the initial contest. Despite running a minute behind her pace as a result of having to wait for the bear, she qualified for state.

Sheila Nyquest, Thorne Bay’s cross country coach (and Taylee’s mom), told KRBD she does prepare her kids for wildlife encounters — being that it IS the Last Great Frontier and all.

“We run on logging roads, so we’re in the wilderness quite a bit,” she said. ” I tell the kids to make a lot of noise. But we’ve never had an issue.”

It’s worth stating that running from a black bear is not a good idea, as it typically only works to incite them. Your best bet is to stand your ground, make yourself big and cause a racket.

Luckily Taylee had the sense to wait for the bear to clear before running again.


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