(KRON) — An ultra marathon runner was in the midst of a 150-mile trail race when he said he was attacked by a large coyote near the Golden Gate Bridge. Dean Karnazes said the coyote pounced and knocked him off his feet just as he reached Mile 37 in the Marin Headlands.
Karnazes, 59, recorded an Instagram video at 3 a.m. Saturday moments after the attack.
“I’m at a 150 mile trail run and I got attacked by a coyote. That was a first. It knocked me over,” Karnazes says in the video with blood still on his face. “Thankfully I’m running with poles and I whacked it and it ran away. Kind of brutal. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I guess I gotta keep going, unless it will probably come back for me.”
He captioned the video, “I’ve been attacked by a shark, and now a coyote. Both incidents were terrifying.”
Karnazes was running alone with a headlamp to see through the darkness. Ultra marathon athletes run day and night for races to finish with the fastest possible time. Karnazes suspects that the coyote may have been aiming for his energy bar because he had just begun eating to refuel when the wild animal attacked.
Karnazes told KRON4 that he heard the coyote before he saw it. “I heard what I thought was a dog coming up behind me. As I turned, this thing just jumped and hit me on the shoulder. It was attacking my food,” he said.
Headlands150 race organizers paused the competition for several hours as a safety precaution. “What just took place this past weekend is nothing any of us have ever experienced before. I am truly sorry that some of your Headlands journeys were paused or cut short,” said Greg Lanctot, director of Pacific Coast Trail Runs.
Karnazes is a well-respected endurance runner within the ultra marathon sports community. He ran 50 marathons in all 50 US states within 50 consecutive days, as well as won the Badwater ultra marathon and 4 Deserts Challenge.
On Monday, he warned Marin Headlands visitors against feeding coyotes.
“As I’ve witnessed firsthand, people (mostly tourist) have been feeding wild coyotes in the Marin Headlands area of California. This has got to stop. If you see someone feeding a coyote, please say something. The local Rangers are doing the best they can, but we trail runners are out in these areas more than anyone,” Karnazes wrote on Instagram.
Coyotes are found throughout most of California. According to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, coyotes are naturally fearful of humans until they are given access to food. “If coyotes are given access to human food and garbage, their behavior changes. They lose caution and fear,” CDFW wrote.
Last year, a woman was caught on camera feeding coyotes at Bernal Heights Park in San Francisco. San Francisco Animal Care and Control said the woman frequently brought trays of meat for the wild animals.