Black bear interrupts Alaska cross country race

Black bear interrupts Alaska cross country race

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Black bear interrupts Alaska cross country race

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Taylee Nyquist, number 125 in black, was the lone runner in her regional championship race to finish after she encountered a black bear on the course — KDRB/Associated Press via AZ Central

Taylee Nyquist, number 121 in black, was the lone runner in her regional championship race to finish after she encountered a black bear on the course — KDRB/Associated Press via AZ Central

They say you’re always closer to nature in Alaska. Now we know that holds true even when you in the midst of a major sporting event.

As reported by the Associated Press, and first noted by TV network KRBD, the Region V cross country meet in Southeastern Alaska was rudely interrupted by a black bear, who decided to wander right on to the course and disrupt the day’s first race, a girls contest between runners for schools in the 1A, 2A and 3A classifications.

The bear was first discovered by Thorne Bay runner Taylee Nyquist, who was leading the race when she came upon the bear as it was leaving a course-side lake. The teen briefly paused, but the bear appeared to be more frightened than the runner, first scampering into a tree and then heading deeper into the woods.

“I was just running and the bear was coming up from the water, and I didn’t want to keep going,” Nyquist told KDRB. “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.”

Nyquist was careful to give the bear space, but then sped on to the race’s finish — she was more than two miles into a 5K — but when she arrived, Nyquist was the only one there. After passing her coach, Nyquist had shouted that she’d seen a bear, and quick relays of information encouraged race officials to stop all the other runners at the two-mile marker and send them back to the teams’ gathering place.

You can actually see the bear in the photo below, which was captured by Thorne Bay principal Rob O’Neal, who was at the meet.

The black bear that halted an Alaska cross country race can be seen in the distance of this photo (it's the blurry black dot in the rear center of the photo) — Facebook

The black bear that halted an Alaska cross country race can be seen in the distance of this photo (it’s the blurry black dot in the rear center of the photo) — Facebook

While the race was eventually re-run without Nyquist, who was allowed to keep her first run time, the Thorne Bay speedster still won her classification to qualify for state. She was happy with the result, but not necessarily the race, with the bear providing enough of a hindrance to cost her roughly 1 minute off her traditional best times.

Luckily, that hardly dimmed her sense of humor about the event.

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

“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?’”

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Black bear interrupts Alaska cross country race
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