One day I was running Hood-to-Coast – it’s an approximate 200-mile, 12 person/team relay that runs from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood to the Oregon Coast. It’s divided up into 36 legs, each team has 2 vans of 6 people, and as the runners finish their legs the vans leapfrog each other, with each runner taking on 3 legs. The details really aren’t important, all you need to know for this story is I was running a very uphill 5-mile leg on a gravel road around 2am. To my right was the side of the mountain, to my left a sort of prairie. Running along the left side of the road, there came an eruption of noise that I can only think was a group of turkeys that I had startled. Scared out of my shoes, clothes, and skin, I somehow managed to jump 12 feet directly horizontally to the right side of the road. It was easily the greatest athletic achievement of my life. I then looked to the left, and saw 2 red eyes reflecting off the headlamp I was wearing and heard something growling. At this moment, the panic of being startled turned into a panic of survival. Trying to recall what to do when you encounter a mountain lion in the wild, my mind went blank. (Side note to friends: when in survival situations, I’m not the one to rely on). So, all I did was run. As fast as I could, which at that point in the relay was something between the speed of a slug and a sloth. But man, I felt like I was Carl Lewis. I didn’t get chased by any menacing animals, and after the race we might have heard rumors that there were kids messing with runners in that prairie, making ferocious animal noises. Pretty sure those rumors are completely false.
Moral of the story: When scary things growl at you in the dark, Run!