Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This Weekend In Running (6/28 - 6/29) - SPECIAL UPDATE EDITION

For the first time in its 35-year history, the Western States Endurance Run is in jeopardy as wildfilres and poor air quality could lead to its cancellation. Race director Greg Soderlund has indicated that a final decision was expected by 7:00 P.M. PST today. Western States Board President Tim Twietmeyer delivered the below e-mail to all race participants today :

Event Threatened by Wildfires and Smoke.

(Situation as of 3:00PM PDT, 6/25/08)

Dear WS Runners, Medical Captains, Volunteers and Managers,

Over the past several days, all of California has had to face an unprecedented number of wildfires caused by dry lightning strikes on June 21. Reports indicate that there are now more than 840 wildfires statewide, with 312 fires in northern California. The June 21 event included 3,200 lightning strikes in the Tahoe National Forest alone. This week has also seen a rapid deterioration of the air quality around the finish of our race in Auburn, Calif., as well as a shroud of smoke that has limited visibility and the air quality at the start of our race in Squaw Valley, Calif. In addition, there are currently two wildfires burning within close proximity to our race course; one of these is burning within two miles of one of the race's critical access roads for aid station and race volunteers.

Here is the latest update on where conditions stand:

Representatives from the Western States board will meet with Foresthill Ranger District representatives later today to discuss the latest fire conditions and the potential impacts the fire could have on the course. The discussion will include the potential that two fires - the Government Fire in the North Fork of the American River and the Peavine Fire near Mosquito Ridge Road - might have in reaching the course by the weekend. A Type 1 federal wildfire management team has been dispatched to handle the fire situation surrounding the American River communities in and around Auburn.

Placer County Air Pollution Control District officials have issued an air-quality advisory. Air quality specialists with Placer County are advising individuals to reduce their exposure to the unhealthy air, and that includes vigorous outdoor activities. Unhealthy air advisories have stretched all the way to Reno, located about 40 minutes from Squaw Valley.

Auburn-area forecasts call for the dry weather to continue through the week, according to reports. The site stated that very high to extreme wildfire threats would remain in place through the week, with more possibility of dry lightning over the weekend.

For 35 years, the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run has been predicated on our runner's safety. As of early Wednesday afternoon, the prospects of holding our event on June 28 do not appear promising, given concerns regarding the proximity of wildfire to our course, the overall unhealthy quality of the air at this time and the overall safety of runners, aid station personnel, volunteers and, as well, the safety of the firefighting professionals who are in the area of the Western States Trail fighting these blazes.

We have been working diligently with many of our race partners - including representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Auburn and Placer County - in formulating a strategy for the weekend. We are evaluating the situation, and as soon as the board of trustees can make a concrete decision, we will announce it to you, both via email and on our website. Our goal is to make a formal announcement this evening.

We are hoping that conditions will improve dramatically today, and that there will be a greater likelihood that the race will be held. We appreciate your patience and we understand the many sacrifices in training and in your personal lives that you have made over the past six months. Know that if we hold the race or decide to postpone or cancel it, the overriding concern of the Western States 100 has always been your safety.

This will be the criterion guiding our final decision.


Tim Twietmeyer Western States Board President
Greg Soderlund Race Director


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. While I can't divulge my source, the race is off. I'm now certain enough of this that I've posted:

    Sorry everyone!


  3. so BUMMED about the cancellation, feel so bad for those who have been training their asses off for WS...really sucks!

  4. Thanks Bryon. A great reporter never reveals his/her source !