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Bernie Boettcher Wednesday, 27 June 2012 13:50 TWEET COMMENTS 1

The Night Shift: Work all day, run - when? - Page 2

Anyway, after the first week of slowly overcoming my fear of getting eaten by dogs and bears, I settled into a rhythm. I started to like it. Not many people are out at 3 in the morning and I took to running roads right down the painted lines with my headlamp off. I could see the potholes just by looking for breaks in the line. I never saw more than three or four cars, and the roadways became my own private trails.

I found routes I could do in two hours or less and looked forward to the constellations I’d see with each change in direction. The Big Dipper, Orion, Corona Borealis, the North Star and various shooting stars all became my night lights. When the moon was up, I took to real trails and needed lights only in narrow gorges or heavily forested areas.

The wild animals left me alone, though several close run-ins with foxes and deer scared the bejeebers out of me. Or maybe the coffee I slugged did that. Either way, no one can see the bejeebers on your shorts at 4 a.m. unless they’ve been eating a lot of carrots. The animals seemed like they couldn’t care less, after leaping briefly out of my way.

I was thinking about some friends west of Denver who are banished from running trails at night by their local officials, and how in a similar situation, I wouldn’t be allowed to run trails at all, when I heard it.

The noise sounded like the time I rolled a tractor tire down a big hill through the forest except for the fact it was rolling uphill! It continued for about 10 seconds; then, dead silence. It was not a fox, not a deer. It was big, judging by the sounds of the branches it was breaking. It was over an embankment, but my brain ceased to function rationally, as the drums in my ears were incessantly pounding one frightening thought into my head. “BEAR-BEAR-BEAR-BEAR!”

It took two seconds to shine my light toward the invisible noisemaker, but I quickly realized my vision hadn’t yet developed enough to see through rocks, dirt and trees. I figured it couldn’t, either, so I turned tail and ran without sticking around to find out anything else. For the next few nights I took a different route, but I’m going back tomorrow. If you don’t hear from me, look for bear scat with a headlamp stuck in it.

Bernie tastes a little like chicken.


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