Close Encounters of the Wild Kind

This is a topic that I thought about again over the weekend. As any runner knows, wildlife can sometimes pop up on a run. And by that, of course I mean animals which we might not want to run into.

This past weekend I took to the trails in downtown Des Moines’ urban forest. Literally one minute into my run, I turned the corner into two young bucks. A little bit of shouting got them off the trail, but as I ran I continued to run into them as they scrambled down the trail. I would see one other deer later on as well.

I’m always a little more wary of deer than maybe some think I should be. More often than not, deer will just run away. There are stories, though, of deer attacking people, and runners. And guys, those are big animals with hooves and (some) antlers. Granted, most deer attacks happen when a person comes between a doe and her fawn. Of course, this can make spring running a bit of an adventure. I had an instance where a fawn bolted away, but the doe stared my down and took a few steps forward when the fawn ran. I was looking for the nearest tree to climb.

Birds can be fierce as well. Nine times out of 10 when encountering a bird, it will just fly circles a few feet above your head. Not too bad. In California, I had a bird swoop down and attack, and make contact with me; leading a passer by to accurately state “That’s one pissed off bird.” The other day I had a bird hover, feet toward me, at about eye level on the trail. And many others have had some less than quality experience with geese as well.

Then there are the bigger animals. I’ve never run into anything more than deer and coyotes. When in Colorado, my top fear is running into a Cougar. Although my fear probably should be (in Colorado and Wisconsin) Bears. Generally speaking, most Bears are not going to attack people (except for Grizzlies), but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying. Are there any animal encounters you’ve had on a run?

Run: As I mentioned, I opted in for some single track trails. While they were fun, I didn’t quite get the mileage I wanted. This was in large part due to me missing a 4.5 mile loop through the woods. Apparently, I needed to keep going down one of the trails I was on. Next time.

On Sunday, I returned to the parking ramp on campus. It still amazes me that running there, five times up and down, and running home tallies me eight miles. It’s always a tougher workout than I plan, plus my legs were not having it this weekend. Still, that will be my last really hard run leading into Rock N Sole, so we will see how that goes.

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