Jessica Gamboa was out on a training run for a half-marathon, but she ended up faced with a far more difficult journey: walking two miles after a May 18 bear attack. Gamboa, 25, was running with her husband—a soldier at Anchorage's Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson—when she saw a bear cub on the side of a remote road. As she slowed to look for its mother, "I looked back to my left and the mama bear was already coming toward me," she says in a new interview about the attack. The grizzly knocked her down, picked her up by the thigh or buttocks, carried her across a road, then dropped her and "went to town," Gamboa says, per the Alaska Dispatch. "I paused then for a few minutes ... maybe two, laying there, and telling myself, 'I think pretty much this is how I'm going to die.'"
She played dead, but when the bear finally left, "I could see blood just everywhere," Gamboa says. "I could feel pulsing out of my neck. I knew I was in bad shape." She called for her husband, but the faster runner had gotten too far ahead of her. She eventually made it to a road and met Sgt. Collin Gillikin, who thought she was a tired runner. "She didn't seem to be in distress." Once in his truck, however, he noticed how badly she was injured. "I was in pure amazement this woman was still talking," he says. Gamboa suffered gashes all over her body, a neck fracture, puncture wounds, and bruises, and "they had to reattach almost all of my ear," she says. She remains in a hospital on blood thinners due to a clot in her head. As for Gillikin, he tells the AP the experience "made me realize there's something bigger than myself out there."