Sad news relating to the accepted risks of trail running and racing in the wilderness

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/black-bear-kills-16-year-boy-race-alaska-48127712

Most risks of racing and running on trails would normally be associated with physical or physiological conditions such as heat exhaustion, cardiac/lung problems, fatigue and mountain sickness or even fractures but sadly this story is related to the unpredictable nature of running and competing in the wilderness.

Part of the beauty and attraction of off-road trail-running is having that perception of beeing the only on there and feeling at one with nature. The flip side is that you’re never alone when we are in fact encroaching on the territory and domain of the wild animals residing in that area. It is synonomous to surfers choosing to surf in waters where sharks are known to be at home there.

As with all extreme sports and activities, such as climbing at Everest, free-diving with one breath, unaided tight-rope walking or skydiving in a ‘squirrel’ suit, the hazards and risks are always known and accepted by the individuals. How we manage that acceptance is also very individual and the way people learn to cope with risk or fear is possibly by trial and error and learning from experience, developing their abilities to spot danger and cope, and vicarious learning from other more experienced people.

I dare say this incident won’t stop trail running in the wilderness, in the same way it won’t stop other extreme sports enthusiasts taking part in their chosen sport. However, as with any incident that occurs like this, it reminds people of the realities they face each time and the inherent risks, reminding people to remain alert and never become complacent.

What are your views on this topic?

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