Ultra-Runner Encounters Bear During Yosemite Run, Escapes With Minor Injuries

In an unexpected and frightening encounter, California ultra-runner Jon-Kyle Mohr collided with a black bear while completing a 50-mile run through Yosemite Valley. The incident happened late Sunday night, just before Mohr was set to finish his long-planned route.

Mohr, 33, had set out from his home in June Lake, running over the Sierra Nevada mountains and into Yosemite Valley. His goal was within reach when he unexpectedly ran into a large, adult black bear. According to Mohr, he was only seven-tenths of a mile from the finish line when he saw a huge shape charging at him in the darkness.

“I felt some sharpness on my shoulder and was flung into the dark,” Mohr recalled. As he regained his bearings, he noticed people nearby shining their headlamps and shouting warnings about the bear.

The collision had caused a bag of garbage to fly from the bear’s mouth, potentially aggravating it. “It was coming back at me,” Mohr said. He quickly started yelling and slapping his running poles against the pavement, while onlookers banged pots and pans. Their efforts managed to scare the bear away.

Despite the terrifying encounter, Mohr escaped with only torn clothes and a few scratches. The incident took place near the popular Vernal Falls trailhead, adding to the drama of his near-complete run.

“If the bear really wanted to harm me, it could have,” Mohr admitted, noting that a responding park ranger mentioned such accidental collisions were extremely rare.

Although medics bandaged his wounds, Mohr declined transportation to the hospital. Reflecting on the incident, he said, “If I had rested my feet for 20 seconds longer at any point over the 16 hours, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Yosemite National Park has reported 10 bear-related incidents this year, a 9% decrease from the previous year. Park spokesman Scott Gediman declined to comment on Mohr’s experience. However, the bear involved had been located and fitted with a tracking collar earlier on the same day.

Mohr’s story is a testament to the unpredictable nature of wildlife encounters, even for experienced runners.