87 Rescued From ‘Near-Whiteout’ Conditions During Utah Ultramarathon
“Venturing onto the mountains, trails, and bodies of water at this time of year can be dangerous because the weather changes rapidly,” Kelly V. Sparks, the Davis County sheriff, said in a statement. “Even a mild rain in the valley can translate to blizzard conditions at higher elevations.”
The DC Peaks 50, which was being held for the first time, was to take runners along a mountainous course that is mostly trails but also includes some service roads and 2.5 miles of paved road, according to the race’s website. It is described on the website as “a tough course” with a roughly 11,700-foot vertical gain and an 8,637-foot descent.
Jake Kilgore, a race director, said he and the other director, Mick Garrison, spent two years planning the race, working with the United States Forest Service and others on the route. There were 87 runners in the race and six aid stations along the way, each one headed by an experienced ultramarathoner, Mr. Kilgore said.
The runners were about 8 miles into the race when the conditions deteriorated, he said.
“It was raining at the starting line, and it had forecasted rain,” Mr. Kilgore said. “Nobody had forecasted over a foot of snow at Francis Peak. Nobody.”
He said ultramarathoners are aware of the risks involved in the sport, like big-wave surfers or kite surfers. After the race was canceled, he said, runners had emailed him to say they were safe and “they all are excited to come back next year.”
“The fact that we have every single runner accounted for means that this race was a very successful race today,” Mr. Kilgore said.
Once considered a niche extreme sport, ultrarunning has soared in popularity in the last two decades. Critics have argued that some of the races have begun to blur the lines between the rugged and the reckless, and in the process, shifted the definition of an endurance race from conquering long distances to surviving the elements.