As if running a marathon wasn’t exhaustive enough, one runner had more than just sore legs to deal with after almost completing a marathon in northern New Mexico.

Karen Williams was running a marathon in the Valles Caldera National Preserve when a female black bear confronted her, according to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Williams was about 23.5 miles into the race when she crested a hill – when she got to the top, she noticed the bear charging at her.

Officers said the victim surprised the bear after the bear’s cub was spooked and ran up a nearby tree, which led officials to believe that the momma bear attacked in order to protect her baby.

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Williams wrote on Facebook:

I topped it a bear was charging me. She was about 15 ft away. I raised my arms and yelled “NO!” then saw the cub. Then I was on my ass and being raked with claws and bitten. I cried out in pain and Mama bear did not like that so she hit me with a left hook and bit my neck and started to try to shake me. I rolled into a ball and played dead. She went off about 25 – 30 feet and stopped at the base of a tree and huffed at her cub that was up about 30 feet. The cub cried a bit while trying to get down the tree. Mama bear kept glancing my way to make sure that I was still “dead”. I was at that point afraid I might die. I didn’t know what the wound on my neck was like because I did not move for fear she would come wail on me some more. I waited about 10 minutes until the huffing she was doing was gone and I couldn’t hear the cub anymore. Then I tried to look around but was having trouble seeing much. I tried to sit up but was nauseated and my arms didn’t seem to work right.

Thankfully, several runners stopped to help Williams as she lay there helplessly bleeding, and she was airlifted to an Albuquerque area hospital where she was treated for facial injuries and lacerations.

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The runner was left with bites to her upper body, head and neck and numerous scratches. Although her injuries were not considered to be life-threatening, Williams said “I have a fractured right orbit from the mean left hook, missing parts of eyelid and eyebrow, injury to the belly of my left bicep and a lot of punctures and lacerations… But I am alive.”

Although it is a miracle that Williams is still alive and acted smartly by playing dead in front of the bear.

Officers with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish have released a statement saying that they have tracked down the female bear and euthanised it.

The bear is to be transported to the state Veterinary Diagnostic Services center for necropsy. Whilst this may seem harsh at first, state law requires any wild animal that attacks or bites a human be euthanized and tested for rabies which is spread when an infected animal scratches or bites another animal or human.

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“It is regrettable when a wildlife encounter results in human injuries and requires we euthanize the animal,” Department Director Alexandra Sandoval said in a statement. “We are thankful that the injuries sustained by the victim were not worse and are hopeful that she is able to recover quickly.”

The bear was located not far from where the attack occurred and matches the information given by the victim. The bear was part of a study involving wild bears and was collared with a GPS tracking device which helped Officers confirm the bear’s location at the time of the incident. Officers are confident that they caught the right bear.