Woman running marathon survives bear attack by playing dead

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VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE, N.M. — Wildlife officials say a bear attacked a woman running a marathon in a national preserve in northern New Mexico.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says the woman was racing Saturday afternoon when a female black bear confronted her in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Officers say the victim surprised the bear after her cub had run up a nearby tree.

The victim, Karen Williams, identified herself on Valles Calderas Runs Facebook page.

“There was some sort of seep or pond or mucky area at the top of that little hill and when I topped it a bear was charging me. She was about 15 ft away. I raised my arms and yelled “NO!” then saw the cub,” Williams wrote.

She went on and said, “Then I was on my a** and being raked with claws and bitten. I cried out in pain and Mama bear did not like that so she hit me with a left hook and bit my neck and started to try to shake me. I rolled into a ball and played dead.”

Williams says she played dead for 10 minutes and waited until she couldn’t hear the bear or her cubs any more.

Other joggers helped her until emergency crews arrived. She was airlifted to an Albuquerque hospital.

“I have a fractured right orbit from the mean left hook, missing parts of eyelid and eyebrow, injury to the belly of my left bicep and a lot of punctures and lacerations. But I am alive,” she wrote.

Game and Fish and the National Park Service are warning people to stay away from the area. Officials are trying to find the bear to euthanize it and test it for rabies.