If you can help it, try not to run with a fox hanging off your arm

fox-in-socks

Island Packet — If you are a regular runner in the Lowcountry, there’s a reasonably solid chance that you will, at some point, be attacked by an animal that will try to eat you, probably with its teeth, for three reasons:

  1. Because of the stretchy nature of their muscles, joggers are chewy and delicious.
  2. The economy.
  3. We have a lot — A LOT — of animals roaming around here, mostly because of the swampy, low-lying nature of our surroundings and the fact that many animals’ homes are regularly being plowed down to make way for what appears to be a sovereign commonwealth populated entirely by Outback Steakhouses.

There really aren’t many places you can go enjoy a nice, animal-free run around here, except on your treadmill in a gym that’s inside a building, but whatever. For instance, if you jog in Sea Pines, you run the risk of seeing a salivating alligator, which — and I say this as someone who’s been running around here now for years — is not something that you EVER GET USED TO. You are NEVER NOT BLOWN AWAY BY DISCOVERING THAT YOUR RUNNING PATH IS GATOR-ADJACENT. It makes you WRITE IN ALL CAPITALS FOR LIKE THREE CONSECUTIVE SENTENCES.

When this happens to me, which it often does, because of my resemblance to Captain Hook, I generally turn around and sprint the other way, although I have occasionally been tempted to try to hopscotch over their heads like in “Pitfall!,” which is apparently not a good idea, according to the jerks at the zoo. (I do that instead of running in a zig-zag fashion, which, in a commonly accepted urban legend, is supposed to trick alligators into thinking you’re not there, because their primitive eyes cannot process zags. It doesn’t work, and will only make you look like an idiot in the last few moments before you’re eaten by an alligator).

There also are snakes, which wriggle across the bike paths, sun themselves on the sidewalks and drop out of the trees onto forest paths in front of you, which is something that you really have to only experience one time before the arrival of the night terrors. There are deer, which are oddly fearless around here. And, of course, Pinckney Island has a diplodocus.

The point is this: The dangers are lurking and very real, although if I ever found myself being chewed on by a rabid wild animal, the chances of my keeping that animal attached to my arm while I ran for another full mile to safety fall somewhere in the range between Slim to Palin-in-2012.

And yet that’s exactly what happened last week in Prescott, Ariz., where a runner was attacked by a rabid fox while out on her regular jog. But instead of doing what I and most rational people would do, such as punch the fox in the mouth, the jogger RAN A MILE TO HER CAR WITH THE FOX STILL ATTACHED TO HER ARM. By its teeth. I am sure that was insanely painful and sort of horrifying, but even that does not take away from the hilarious Looney Tunes image that’s in my head right now.

Anyway, once she got back to the car, she pried it off, tossed it in her trunk and drove to the hospital. And herein is the crucial difference between her and me: If I were to tell my friends that I was attacked by a fox, then ran for another mile with the fox still dangling from my forearm, then removed the fox from my arm and jailed it in a car trunk, they would look at me as though I was doing so while producing a live chicken out of my mouth. (There are people who rightfully wouldn’t believe me if I said I did two miles without an iPod.) These sort of stories just fascinate and baffle me, which is why I like to run mostly at Pinckney these days. It’s actually not very difficult to hide from a diplodocus.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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