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Running away from any species of bear is the wrong move. Do not try to outrun a bear.

If you run from a bear, its predator instincts will kick in, and it may chase you. Bears are very fast for their size and have great endurance. The brown grizzly bear can run at speeds up to 35 mph.

Outrunning a bear is never a good idea. Here I will show why you should never attempt to outrun a bear.

How Fast Can A Bear Run?

Grizzly Bear56 kph
Black Bear48 kph
Polar Bear38 kph

What Is The Fastest Bear In North America?

The grizzly bear is the fastest of the three bear species in North America. The grizzly has been clocked at up to 56 km/h (35 mp/h), making them much faster than the other two species. 

The American black bear is the second fastest of the three species. The black bear can run at speeds between 40 and 48 km/h (25 to 30 mp/h) when they feel threatened.

Polar bears are large animals but are extremely quick for their size. They have been seen to run up to 38km/h (24 mp/h).  

Brown bears eat more than just meat.  If you want to know more, this article I wrote has you covered.

Why Do Bears Run Fast?

Bears are predators, not prey animals. While black bears rarely chase down other animals for food, grizzly bears and polar bears will. Bears also use their speed to escape from predators.

Bears have huge, muscular legs that help to propel them forward at high speeds. Because they have longer back legs than front legs, this allows them to achieve fast speeds.

If you have ever wondered why bears are mammals, I have written this article

Can Bears Run Downhill?

There is a long-standing belief that states that bears can’t run downhill, as their shorter forelegs will cause them to fall. This is a myth and is false. In this article from the National Parks Service, J.M. Mackenzie described Clubfoot, a famous grizzly bear, as “able to keep pace with a horse going downhill, but not uphill.” This shows that bears get quicker as they go downhill.

How do you tell the difference between a male and a female bear? Find out here in an article I have written

Grizzly bear running through water

How Fast Can A Human Run?

The speed at which an average human can run depends on the distance. Humans can run short distances over 100 meters at speeds of up to 25 km/h (16 mp/h). Over longer distances, the average rate decreases significantly.

Can Usain Bolt Outrun A Bear?

Usain Bolt is a multi-time World record holder runner. He has broken the world record over 100 and 200 meters. His speed was clocked at 44.72 km/h (27.8 mph) on 16 August 2009. The pace was between 60 and 80 meters of the 100 meters sprint.

A grizzly bear can run as fast as 56 km/h. It is very likely that over 100 or 200 meters, an American black bear would beat the fastest man in the world in a race.  If Usain Bolt can’t outrun a grizzly bear, then the rest of us wouldn’t have a chance.

Do bears have tails? Find out here

How Far Can A Bear Run?

I found an excellent article from the National Park Service, summarized here. The bulletin is titled “The speed of grizzly bears.”

In his book “Lives of Game Animals,” Ernest Thompson Seton said the following regarding the brown bear’s speed. “Swift too, is he, in amazing measure for his build. Those who form their idea of a bear’s speed from watching a hulking, slouching prisoner are sure to be amazed at the real thing.

For 50 or 100 yards, a brown bear can go faster than any horse and has the stamina to keep going. In spring, ponies that have wintered outside very commonly become the prey of the grizzly, who can now catch them on the open plains. “

In the same bulletin from 1937, there is a story of a female brown bear who had just woken up from hibernation with her cubs. Losing sight of her cubs due to a car going past, the mother chased the car at a speed of 45 km/h (27 mp/h) for two miles.  Even if you could run faster than a bear, you would not have the endurance to match.

People Have Outrun Bears

I found this news article in the Washington Post. Morinda Marube is a professional runner who knew that outrunning a bear wasn’t the right thing to do. However, when faced with a black bear while on a run, he tried to escape it by running.

During an 18-mile run, two black bears appeared. Knowing the bears could climb trees, he decided to run or swim to escape. However, he couldn’t swim.

He had passed a house just 20 yards before, so he thought he would make it back to the house easily.

As soon as he started running, the bears ran after him. The runner, Morinda Marube, told reporters that the bears were within 10 yards of him when he reached the house. The house was unoccupied, so he unhooked the screen door and stepped inside the elevated porch.  

Although the bears could see him, the bears did not enter the porch. The runner said that the two black bears would have caught him if the house had been more than 20 yards away.

Bears can often be seen playing with each other, but do you know why?

References And Further Reading

Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton. You can buy this on Amazon here.

Washington Post – The rule is to not run away from a bear. This professional runner did just that.