Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Run Where I Got Attacked by a Fox

Everyone has a go to run. It's usually something simple. A run that you step out the front door and you're on your way. No fuss. It's familiar, you know every inch of it. You've run it 1000 times. You could probably run it with your eyes closed or at night with no headlamp at least. You've run it rain, shine, snow, all of those things from the Postal Service motto. I've had a go to run everywhere I've lived. Back home it was 'the Rez'. In Keene, the Trestle, the Kennel, or Yale forest. In Philly, I ran the Navy Yard loop pretty much every day. Now that I've been in Georgia for a while, I've carved out a go-to seven-mile loop from my front door.

Why am I prattling on about our everyday so-so runs? Think of all the times you've run your go-to run. What's the craziest thing that's ever happened on it? For me, nothing. This run is so automatic for me that I'm normally on autopilot for most of it. Not last week. I got attacked by a (probably) rabid fox. Needless to say, it was wild.

Gravel Springs is what I've called this run for a while. It doesn't really make sense since you are only on Gravel Springs road for like a quarter mile but whatever. I've run this run hundreds of times. I ran the same loop from the apartment we used to live in the only tweak I've made since moving is to switch the direction so I can run it earlier in the winter thanks to the street lights. It's a very basic run. It's got a couple of hills thrown in and you have to wait at one stoplight other than that smooth sailing the whole way.

I start out in my neighborhood then make my way towards the car dealerships that line Buford Drive - the main thoroughfare past the mall. I cut through the VW dealership and take a pair of quite backroads before jumping on Gravel Springs Road for a quarter mile. After three miles, I pick up the Ivy Creek Greenway - a half trail, half paved multi-use path that wraps around the mall then behind my old apartment before climbing up to the environmental center. From there it's a mile back to the house. Nothing to see here. Ho hum.

With about 2.5 miles to go, I rounded a corner and spotted a small red fox on the path about 35 yards ahead of me. I didn't think much of it at first. It was about seven in the morning, so still, that dawn hour down here and I've seen a few foxes around that time in before. I slowed up and paused for a second to watch it, figuring that as soon as it saw me it would bolt into the woods. It wasn't doing anything strange but it started rolling around and that's when I noticed the big wound it had on its side. It was pretty mangy looking and was fairly bloody, so at that point, I decided it would probably be best if I turned around and found a different route home.

That's when it saw me. Surprise, it didn't bolt into the woods, instead, it squared its paws and started to size me up. I thought maybe it had just been in a fight so I could scare it off. I tried clapping and yelling, nope it stood fast. I figured I had two choices. Turn and run or stay and fight. I don't know how fast foxes are, but I felt like if I ran there was a good chance it was going to catch and bite me. fighting didn't seem like a great option either since the only thing I could do was kick it.

I guess indecision made the choice for me because after two loud claps and a "get out of here fox!" shout, it came at me, bro. Fight then. Here we go. I decided kicking it was my best option, so I readied myself to send the poor thing out of the back of the end zone. I had a brief moment that I really didn't want to kick it, but the snarl it made right before lunging at my left foot changed my mind.

This thing was straight out of 28 days later. As soon as it lunged at me, I swung my right leg with everything I had and miraculously caught it square in the jaw. When I pulled my foot back, I wasn't expecting the fox to be attached to it. I thought 'it'll run away or I'll knock it out' those were the only two outcomes in my mind. WRONG. When I connected, the fox bit down and attached itself to my shoe. I swung my foot again and this time the fox went flying into the woods to the side of the trail. I didn't stick around to find out if it wanted to go for round two though. As soon as my foot was free, I turned and burned.

It ended up rolling out of the woods and snarling again but decided not to come after me. After about a 150-yard spring, I slowed down and tried to relax and calm down before continuing on. I stopped a group of mountain bikers to give them a heads up and flagged down one of the guys at the environmental center to see if he could call animal control before heading home.

When I was about a half mile from the house, I noticed that my shoe had a few spots of blood on it. Awesome, I thought. If it got me I'm in for two weeks of rabies shots for sure. I gingerly removed my shoes and socks when I got home and was relieved to see that my shoe got the worst of it. I had no bite, no scratches, no broken skin. Holy sh!t was I lucky. I called animal control to report it. Unfortunately, the first guy I talked to must have previously worked animal control in Pawnee, Indiana because he was no help. I think he thought that I was reporting the fact that I saw a fox.

There are a lot of people that use this trail so, I was a little concerned that it wasn't being taken seriously but then I got a call from a second guy that had a much better handle on the situation. I don't know if they ever found it, but since I never got a call back I'm assuming they did not.

All in all, I was super lucky. lucky that it went for my foot instead of jumping, lucky that I wore shoes with a thicker tongue and my thickest Darn Tough socks (marketing idea - Fox resistant socks). And lucky that it didn't come after me again.

It's like the Planet of the Foxes or World War Fox or something out here by the way.
Athens - Georgia
Winston-Salem - North Carolina
Southern Pines - North Carolina
Beverly - Massachusetts
San Marcos - Texas

I could go on. That's just from the last couple of days. I have to stop looking at these stories because I'm pretty sure this is how every zombie movie starts. I guess it's a good thing I live close to the mall. Speaking of which, I actually haven't done this run since that day. It's not that I'm afraid to, although fear probably played a role in not running that route the next day. I've biked it a couple of times since but we've had a ton of afternoon thunderstorms and it's been a little flooded. Happy coincidence I guess. It won't keep me from running there but a break from the same old run wasn't the worst thing.

All in all, now I've got a new story to tell about the craziest thing that's ever happened to me on a run. I used to think nothing would top the redneck that chased a group of us on a four-wheeler before crashing and breaking his arm. That was pretty insane, but it's another story for another day.

This was originally going to be another Trestle Run blog, but it turned out to be a pretty long blog, so I'm just going to leave it as a stand-alone story.

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