A mountain lion struck Fort Collins resides Travis Kauffman if he was on a trail operation at Horsetooth Open room on Feb. 4, 2019.
On an unseasonably heat February day, Travis Kauffman top out around noon for a run in the foothills outside Fort Collins, attract shorts and also a fleece pullover.

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Within two hours, he"d arise from the woods — clothes tattered, body blood-smeared, but alive.

The story of exactly how he came face-to-face with a juvenile mountain lion and not only survived, but killed the pet that struck him, soon ended up being the ingredient of legend. It"s the type of story that feeds the impulses of internet commenters and also quickly embeds itself in local folklore, favor a Wild West high tale concerned life.

The an easy plotline was famous within hours: A mountain lion ambushed a trail runner in a well-known open space area. There is no the aid of weapons, the runner combated back. The cat continued the onslaught and lost that life. But the details were largely unknown.

elafilador.net"s Luke Runyon spoke v Kauffman for his very first sit-down media interview. He"d been anonymous because the assault on Feb. 4. He identified himself at a push conference v Colorado Parks and Wildlife ~ above Feb. 14. Full disclosure, Runyon and Kauffman have known each various other for about four years.

Kauffman began his run that day through a grueling slog. He began at Arthur"s rock trailhead, at some point hooking up through Towers Trail, a steep 4x4 roadway within Horsetooth Open an are that stretches from Horsetooth Reservoir to the optimal of a ridge more than 7,000 feet in elevation.

After the lung-busting climb, Kauffman took in the check out from the peak of the well-trafficked trail. He started his lower on a different one, West Ridge Trail, running southern toward Horsetooth Mountain. Kauffman is an skilled trail runner, but this was his an initial time ~ above West Ridge.

"So (this was) a much less than ideal first introduction come that collection of trails," Kauffman said. "But that was very pretty."

A couple of weeks back, Kauffman signed up for a 50-kilometer follow race, the Dirty 30 this summer in Colorado"s golden Gate Canyon State Park. This ill-fated operation was part of his training, getting him all set to take it on the challenge.

Originally from north Arkansas, Kauffman relocated to Colorado 6 years ago and works for an eco-friendly consulting firm.

The 31-year-old — at 5 feet, 10 customs tall and 150 pounds — skipped the earbuds on this run, opting instead for the sound that his very own footsteps. A quarter-mile into his descent from Towers, the heard pine tree needles rustling on the follow behind him.

"I stopped and also turned," he said. "And it"s among those situations where occasionally I turn, sometimes I don"t. But in the earlier of mine mind I constantly wonder if it"s something dangerous choose a bear or a bobcat or a hill lion, and in this case it was in reality a hill lion.

"So i remember see that and just having my gut feel the full impact of the situation."

The youth cougar barreled toward him. Kauffman placed up his arms and screamed in an attempt to fear the cat away.

"Unfortunately, it preserved running," he said.

The cat leapt at Kauffman"s face. He elevated his arms in a protective motion to blunt the early attack. That is mouth locked around his wrist. One tooth sunk into the meaty component of his thumb, an additional dug right into the height of his wrist.

The mountain lion hugged Kauffman"s body, digging its former claws right into his back. Its back legs thrashed at his thighs. The tried to throw it off. But with the mouth clamped approximately his wrist, the two finished up tumbling more than 20 feet off the trail into a gully.

"But throughout that fall, the cat ended up ~ above its ago and that still had actually my wrist this entirety time in the mouth," Kauffman said.

With the leverage of being on peak of the cougar, Kauffman supplied one of his foot to pen the animal"s hindquarters to the ground, and then searched for a way to struggle back. He ordered sticks, however they to be rotted, and crumbled once he tried to usage them against the cat. Through his free hand, he discovered a rock and also began hitting its head. The angle to be awkward and Kauffman permit the cat"s legs slip out from under him.

"Its back legs got totally free at that point and it"s scratching my ago and my calves and also then some much more of mine thighs a little bit," the says.

As he recounts what happened, Kauffman"s orange tabby Obie wanders v his fort Collins home, pawing in ~ the microphone and meowing to be let outside. Kauffman and also his girl friend Annie Bierbower adopted him 6 months ago.


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"Because I"m a recent cat owner, I understand that the earlier claws room pretty dangerous when it comes under to one attack," Kauffman said. "And i was nice worried around its claws just sinking right into my stomach and also groin area."

He was able to repin the mountain lion"s legs v his left leg and swung the other roughly to the cat"s throat.

"I got my appropriate foot onto its neck," the said. "And then i was able to acquire some load onto the windpipe and also that"s what ultimately suffocated it."

Only once the cat was dead walk it release Kauffman"s wrist indigenous its mouth.

The whole fight lasted about ten minutes. The was long sufficient for Kauffman to start to procedure the life-changing event underway. While he battled the mountain lion, he periodically would look up and also scan the trees, searching for a 2nd cat to join.

"One the the think that i was having actually was like, "Well this would be a quite crappy way to die,"" that said. "Just off on the next of the mountain, screaming and also having this cat wrapped approximately my wrist. Then eventually another cat comes in and also takes me out, and also then getting consumed by a bunch of hill lions. That wouldn"t be an ideal way to go.

"It really much turned into just a full-on fight because that survival."

After suffocating the cat, spanned in scratches and puncture wounds, and full of adrenaline, Kauffman started running again.

"I to be looking around and also feeling choose I was being watched by cat on every sides," he said. "Because i really soaked up my surroundings a little bit more and then realized that the entirety west next of the trail to be filled through rock overhangs and just prime hill lion territory."


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He at some point encountered an additional runner, a guy named Spencer. Kauffman didn"t get his last name. The two began walking under Towers Trail, and also came throughout two hikers, Noah and Rachel Wiarda of fort Collins, who aided Kauffman down to the Soderberg Open room trailhead.

Rachel drive Kauffman to the Poudre sink Hospital emergency room, when Noah and Spencer saw fetch Kauffman"s truck at the trailhead whereby he began his run and drop it off at the hospital.

Kauffman received more than two dozen stitches on his face, a brace because that his wrist and an antibiotic regimen. A necropsy top top the mountain lion verified no indications of rabies. Investigators could not determine the animal"s sex, however estimated its load to be 35 to 40 pounds.

In the moment it took for Kauffman to hike down and officials with Colorado Parks and also Wildlife come visit the scene of the attack, the dead mountain lion had already been partially eaten.

County open an are officials temporarily closed the area where the attack occurred, citing extr mountain lion activity. State wildlife officials relocated two various other juvenile hill lions indigenous the area, feasible siblings the the cat Kauffman killed, follow to a press release.

News the the attack went viral. For more than a week, Kauffman"s identity was not widely known. However that didn"t stop internet theories from floating around around his purported background in martial arts, his practice regimen and also his maintain in hand-to-hand combat. Colorado Parks and also Wildlife fielded inquiries questioning if he was single.

Kauffman states he"s no a vain runner, more of a hobbyist who"s beginning to train for much longer races. That plays adult recreational football in a neighborhood league and sometimes transforms on the Insanity brand of taped workouts. He"s never ever done martial arts. He lives with his girlfriend.


"It"s weird being considered a celebrity for just surviving, which is a weird method to achieve a details degree of notoriety," Kauffman said. "For the most component I tend to lied under the radar a tiny bit."

The foothills might feel choose a place simply for people, for recreation, Kauffman said. However they"re wild places. Being conscious of your surroundings while out hiking and trail running can save her life.

Kauffman says the decision to no wear earbuds to listen to music saved his life. The heard the mountain lion coming prior to he experienced it, and also that might"ve provided him the edge.

"The an initial night I could not go to sleep because I simply kept picturing him transforming around, turning around, and also the cat lunging on him," stated Bierbower, Kauffman"s girlfriend. "Just thinking if he hadn"t turned around... You simply keep replaying that because I"m convinced too the him turning around 100 percent conserved his life."


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The darn on Kauffman"s confront are gone, and the wounds on his back, legs and wrist are beginning to heal. He"s also gone out running again because the assault occurred, not at Horsetooth, however other adjacent trails. That still plans on running the 50k race in June.

The Rocky mountain foothills, with all their crags and cliffs, room prime searching territory for hill lions. It"s why lock live there.

When the goes running now he notices little things the didn"t pay lot attention come before, like as soon as the trail move from open up grasslands to a narrow, rocky outcropping, shaded in pine trees. That looks over his shoulder more.

"It"s such a yes, really weird freak thing," Kauffman said. "Mountain lions room so reclusive and really shy far from humans. I recognize logically that it"s not a legitimate issue that I must be in reality worried about. Yet I mean, it"s there."

Colorado Parks and Wildlife public official praised Kauffman"s taking care of of the situation, speak he did whatever you"re supposed to in one encounter with a mountain lion. The tried to scare it turn off by do noise and raising his arms. When that didn"t work, he provided sticks and rocks to safeguard himself. And when the still wasn"t enough, he supplied his body and wits to kill the animal. He said he was following his gut.

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"During the whole process I didn"t really do that many decisions. There was a most instinct," that said. "And so over there weren"t a the majority of decisions to second-guess or a lot of an essential moments the I had to rethink or go through and reprocess.

"For the most part I don"t feel any kind of residual trauma indigenous it. And I often tend to favor to relocate forward. That"s kind of my personality."