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Cross country race abandoned for very natural reason: A bear

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

This is the heart of cross country season, with races leading into postseason schedules and teams ramping up mileage for final push to fall running glory. Yet, as always, there's an exception to that preparatory rule; Camas (Wash.) High is struggling to train on its course, let alone host some of the late season runs which the school is known for.

As it turns out, there's a very good reason for that site shift: People -- both runners and regular Camas park-goers -- keep encountering bears on the Camas trail course used for races at Lacamas Park.

Most dramatically, a race was called off in mid-stride on Tuesday when an adult runner who was farther along the trail told the teens charging ahead that there was a bear on the course and that they should turn around.

You can see photos of the bear itself in the video above. The bear sightings by runners have been reported far and wide near the Oregon-Washington border in outlets such as the Associated Press, the Oregonian and Portland's KGW News.

"Our number one priority is to make sure that the kids are safe and that we don't take chances with them," Camas High athletic director Josh Gibson told KGW.

According to Camas Police, numerous sightings of bears (it's assumed there are more than one, though that may not technically be the case) in the park in recent weeks, raising enough concern that official complaints have since been levied with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.

While those officials have yet to be seen on site in Camas yet, any park ranger will tell you that attempting to run from a bear is a futile exercise, no matter how fast a runner is. An even worse idea is running into their path, for the risk of accidentally coming across their cubs.

Until the bear issue is rectified, it's unlikely that Lacamas Park will be cleared to host any events. In the meantime, the Camas squad and others near the Oregon border will look for a new adoptive home, at least until the bears in their lives are once again only of the teddy variety at home.

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