cougar safety

ScatBelt Keeping You Safe in Bear Country

(c) Scat Belt - The Griz, featured in the Golden Ultra monthly prize packs.

(c) Scat Belt - The Griz, featured in the Golden Ultra monthly prize packs.

As passionate trail runners and nature advocates the Golden Ultra organizers are super excited to partner with ScatBelt.  ScatBelt manufactures belts that comfortably carry bear spray and other small items while you’re out running.

“I carried bear spray in my hand for years until I got a ScatBelt,” shares local trail runner, Sabrina Grecu.  “There was just not a good option for runners.  All of the existing holsters were designed to hook onto belts – great for hikers, not so much for runners.  The ScatBelt is awesome because I can also put my phone and car keys in it and it does not chafe or bounce.”

While it is unlikely that you’ll be greeted by a wild bear on the trails of Golden during the Golden Ultra, organizers are recommending that all runners consider carrying bear spray in the event and as part of their training.  Bear spray is the most effective deterrent for bears and other large animals that pose a threat to runners – including deer, elk or large cats. 

In a recent study in Alaska, 72 people used bear spray on a bear at close range and 98% of people who used it were uninjured.  The minor injuries that occurred didn't require hospitalization.

Our monthly prize packs feature the Griz Scat Belt.

Our monthly prize packs feature the Griz Scat Belt.

It’s always better to just avoid bear encounters by making noise, traveling in groups and being aware of your surroundings.  Consider training without ear buds or with only one in.  In case you do have a bear encounter, know that the bear spray you are carrying is the most effect deterrent for stopping an approaching or charging bear.

“I run with bear spray because I’d just rather have it with me if I see a bear.  It’s kind of like my insurance policy.  I love to be out in nature and do some pretty big mountain runs so it’s the safest choice when I think about coming home to my 18-month-old boy.”

Scat Belts are available online (www.scatbelt.com) and will also be available at the Golden Ultra.

The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC from September 18-20, 2015.  Runners may participate in all three stages as a solo or part of a relay, or may register for any single or combination of two stages separately. 

Staying Safe!

(c) Darcy Monchak

(c) Darcy Monchak

Do you remember doing practise fire evacuations in public school?  I sure do - it was an opportunity to spend more time outside and it felt exciting and fun to file out of the school in a quick, orderly fashion.

Practise makes perfect and while it is very unlikely that you'd ever need to use your fire evacuation skills in school, you had them in case you needed them.  This is the concept that we're applying to the development of the Golden Ultra's event emergency management plan.  

Borne out of our Race Director's good and bad experiences in previous events and obsessive-compulsive desire to be over-prepared, the emergency response plan is designed to educate and prepare all participants, volunteers and crew in the case of a real emergency response on any scale.  The emergency response plan shows land owners and permitting authorities that the event organizers are prepared and professional, and it provides a basis upon which to develop mutual aid relationships with police, ambulance and fire response agencies for coordinated response.

The super-star team creating the Emergency Response plan was outlined in an earlier blog post.  Deborah Varley, future certified Emergency Manager studying at the University of Brandon, discovered through her research the frightening lack of literature on event emergency response.  The closest thing that she could find to a sport event emergency response plan was one from the National Park Service in Death Valley, published in spring 2015.  

What would require a response?  Pretty much anything from an aid station running out of Honey Stinger chews to wildlife on course, electrical storms, course sabotage, and more.  Part of the emergency planning process is to compile a complete list of anything that could occur, assessing the likelihood that it will occur, and then designing the appropriate preparedness plan and response.  Information and education are critical!

Interestingly and coincidentally, two major outdoor publications shared stories on emergency preparedness in the past two weeks.  Get Out There magazine published a story about the potential for wildlife interaction on the trails and how to deal with it, while Trail Runner Magazine's article focused on required gear for events.  Both of these concepts are likely to affect participants at the Golden Ultra - either at the event or as part of your training - and are worth the read.

Having an emergency response plan does not mean overabundant and stringent rules and regulations, it means having a plan, a communications strategy, and doing some practise.  This will mean that the Golden Ultra will have some gear recommendations or requirements (they'll be posted here as recommendations a month prior and you'll be updated on requirements at the meeting on Friday evening).  

Gear recommendations may change to requirements based on the race-day weather forecast, local wildlife activity, and other factors that may pose threats to participants.  We believe in choice and each individual's ability to assess their fitness and risk but we also have greater authorities to answer to, including ones that may have to rescue or recover runners from situations created by the event.

All that serious talk aside, there is a fun aspect to the emergency preparedness process, and that's the great prizes we'll have available for our orientation activities over the summer months.  Stay tuned for some educational quizzes and videos that will make you a more prepared trail runner whether here in Golden or on your trail at home!