According to bear experts, you should never try to run away when you encounter a bear, as they can run just as fast as a racehorse. However, when a professional Kenyan marathon runner was taking his early morning run in Auburn, Maine, he didn’t stop to think: he just turned tail and sprinted for the nearest house.

Bears join marathon runner for a sprint

While Moninda Marube has been running in the area for around five years and had encountered various types of wildlife, this was the first time he had met up with bears.

Marube told the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal that he was enjoying his early morning run near Lake Auburn in Maine at 5 a.m.

Wednesday last week when it happened. Suddenly, two black bears came out of the woods and onto the road on which he was running. That report theorizes the animals were probably on their way to the lake for a drink, but when they spotted Marube, they stopped and were looking directly at him. Marube told them he had to think on his feet, so to speak. He could either climb a tree, jump into the lake (but he can't swim) or run. He knew there was a house around 20 yards away from his position.

Marube runs for the nearest house with bears in pursuit

Marube chose to turn and run at top speed towards the house, while the two bears chased after him. He said as he reached the house, the bears had around halfway caught up with him.

At first, he had problems opening the door until he spotted a latch which allowed him to access the screened porch and lock himself in. While he stood watching, the bears eventually got bored and ambled away.

Runner did everything wrong in his bear encounter

Marube spoke to the Bangor Daily News about his experience and admitted he had panicked and had done everything wrong and should never have run from the bears.

He later posted on Facebook about the incident, including the video of his interview with the Sun Journal, where he when on to emphasize the importance of ensuring wildlife has space to live and roam. Marube noted that nature needs to be preserved, not disturbed. However, he did tell the Bangor Daily News if nothing else, it was an opportunity to beat his speed record.

What to do if you encounter a bear

While as a professional marathon runner, Marube can apparently run fast, not everyone has his skills. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Maine offers advice on what you should do on encountering a bear. First of all, they say you should never attempt to approach the animal, but merely back away quietly and slowly. Should the bear follow you, continue backing slowly away.

The department says if that doesn’t work, you should stand your ground and try to intimidate the bear by appearing bigger than he or she is; wave your arms in the air, bang a stick against a tree and make a racket to scare the animal.

How to handle a bear attack

If your efforts to intimidate the animal fail and the bear comes in for the attack, there are several things you can do, depending on which kind of bear is involved. The National Park Service advises that if you are faced with a grizzly bear or brown bear, your best course of action is to play dead – lay on your stomach on the ground with your hands joined behind your neck and spread your legs. This will make it harder for the animal to turn you over. Stay in that position until the bear vacates the area. While fighting back against a bear makes things far worse, if you have no choice, make sure you fight back vigorously, using anything you can find to hit the bear in its face.

The National Park Service advice went on to say that should you be faced with a Black Bear, as in Marube’s case, do not play dead. Rather slowly try to get yourself into a safe area, or fight back with anything available, again hitting at the bear’s face.

The National Parks Service also stresses that should a bear attack you in your tent, or stalk you, don’t try the play dead tactic. However, they did say this kind of occurrence is rare and usually indicates the bear believes you to be a tasty source of food.

As reported by Blasting News, one teen camp counselor recently had an experience like this when he awoke to a crunching sound, only to find his head was in a black bear’s mouth – the bear was trying to drag him out of his tent as a potential meal.

In that case, the teen started punching the bear, while other campers, alerted to his predicament, picked up anything they could get their hands on to beat the bear. In the ensuing commotion, the animal left the scene.