An Asiatic black bear. Moninda Marube, a 38-year-old student at the University of Maine, says he encountered two black bears on July 5 while on an early-morning 18-mile training run. PHOTO | TONY HISGETT | CC | FLICKR
Kenyan runner in US outpaces 2 bears in race for his life
A Kenyan runner reportedly outran a pair of pursuing bears in a wooded area in Maine, a state in the US’ New England region.
Moninda Marube, a 38-year-old student at the University of Maine, told local media that he encountered two black bears on Wednesday while on an early-morning 18-mile training run.
Black bears have killed 61 people in North America since 1900, according to the North American Bear Centre, a nonprofit organisation that works to ensure the survival of bears worldwide.
The group’s website notes, however, that US residents are far more likely to be killed by domestic dogs, bees, lightning strikes and fellow humans than by black bears.
Mr Marube said he was chased by the bears after they emerged from the woods in a nature preserve in the town of Auburn.
“I had to think very fast,” he told the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal newspaper.
Mr Marube said he considered jumping into a nearby lake, where the bears had likely been headed for a drink.
But that wasn’t an option because “I fear swimming,” Mr Marube recounted. “I fear water.”
He also thought of climbing a tree, but realised bears can do the same.
The panicking runner instead sought shelter in a vacant camp building.
The bears could have easily broken through the screen door that separated him from them, but they soon ran off into the woods, Mr Marube said.
“I cannot say it’s my feet that saved me,” he told local television station WCSH. “It’s God that saved me.”
Mr Marube’s tactics were not the wisest response to the bears, a wildlife biologist said.
“He should have stood his ground, yelled and screamed and acted big and loud and scary,” Cory Stearns told WCSH.
“In all likelihood, the bears would have run away.”
Mr Marube said in an interview with the Sun Journal that in Kenya he had once come upon a leopard perched in a tree after becoming separated from a group of fellow runners.
He said he fled Kenya in the aftermath of the violence that accompanied the 2007 elections.
Mr Marube travelled first to Spain and Australia, and managed to enter the US in 2010, he related in a 2014 story in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.
He and other Kenyan runners were exploited by a manager who pocketed most of the money they had won in races in the US, Mr Marube said.
He eventually broke with the manager and was befriended by a track coach in Auburn who helped Mr Marube establish himself in Maine, the Press Herald reported.
Mr Marube describes himself as a victim of human trafficking, and now campaigns against that form of enslavement while maintaining a career as a professional runner.