When park runner Travis Kauffman went for his usual exercise near Fort Collins, Colorado, little did he know that he would come face to face with a mountain lion who would pounce upon him. What followed is a fight-to-death struggle. He told reporters his story of survival on Thursday.
"I feel like I should go buy a bunch of lottery tickets," he told reporters, according to CNN.
On Thursday, authorities identified Kauffman as the runner who won a harrowing fight last week after the cat ambushed him along the trail.
Kauffman, 31, who moved to Fort Collins about five years ago for a more active, outdoor lifestyle, described the nightmarish experience in a Monday interview with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. A video of that interview was shown to reporters Thursday, and Kauffman repeated his account at a press conference afterward.
"It was just pure adrenaline," he said. "There was a certain point where I just kind of imagined being stuck on this hillside and eventually just having a cat gnaw at me, which is a creepy way to go. But, for the most part, the adrenaline just kept kicking in at those moments."
Kauffman was running in the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space on February 4 when he heard the rustling of pine needles somewhere behind him.
He typically wouldn't have turned his head to look, assuming the noise belonged to a small "woodland creature."
"But in the back of my mind there's always that thought that it could be something else," Kauffman said. "And that something else this time happened to be a mountain lion.
"I just kind of had my heart sink into my stomach a little bit."
The mountain lion was about 10 feet away, Kauffman said, and he threw up his arms and began yelling in an attempt to scare the animal off.
It didn't work.
The creature jumped on him, latching its jaws around Kauffman's wrist as he tried to protect his face from the claws scratching at his face and legs.
He tried to throw the animal off him, but the two of them tumbled down a slope, and a "wrestling match" ensued, Kauffman said.
He eventually managed to pin down the mountain lion's back legs as he reached for sticks and rocks to strike it and force it off him. All the while his arm was still trapped in the animal's mouth.
"It really clicked after I hit it in the head with a rock, and it still didn't release my wrist, that at that point, more drastic measures were necessary," he said.
Kauffman managed to get his foot pressed down on the mountain lion's neck and held it down until the animal suffocated and let go of his wrist.