The official word came down on Wednesday about 8 PM. We were driving back from Santa Rosa and Lisa Downey called and said the race had been canceled. For those living in Northern California, we understood. Last weekend, temperatures were in the upper 90’s, skies were clear and it looked to be good running conditions. But Saturday afternoon, some thunderstorms developed and we woke up Sunday morning to smoke in the skies and lots of fires burning in California. Still, we didn’t think there would be any impact on the race but the next day, the skies were completely filled with smoke around our home which is just a couple miles from the Western States trail. On Tuesday, visibility was less than 1 mile and we thought it would be better in Santa Rosa. But it was just as bad. There are so many fires burning right now that the fire crews are having to pick which fires to battle and others are left to burn. Smoke continues to fill the air. We drove up to Tahoe last night and the entire drive was through a thick haze. This morning we woke up and the skies cleared but this evening the smoke has returned. Canceling the race, although disappointing, proved to be the right decision. We drove over to Squaw this morning and hung around with some of the other runners for a couple hours. A somber mood seemed to surround the area. Many of the runners are from out of the area and even from other countries and had already arrived with their crews. In 35 years, the race had never been canceled. News today was one fire had approached Last Chance and threatened the Western States trail. This month, with Kettle and now Western States, has been a month filled with extreme weather and conditions. Stepping back and taking perspective, this is only a race. Many are fighting for their homes and property. Our sacrifice means not running a race. Even though lots of hours and other sacrifices are poured into preparing for this race, it doesn’t mean much when compared to life and death situations.
So now what? I had been looking forward to this race and trying to finish and better my previous time and at best finish in around 20 hours. But who knows what would/could have taken place out there. My main goal was to have a good experience and enjoy the process. Looks like it will have to wait till 2009. I’ve contacted Tahoe Rim to see about running that race in a few weeks but would prefer to run the 50 mile race as a prep for a different 100 mile race. I’ve done Tahoe Rim the past 2 years and would rather run a different 100 mile course. I love the Tahoe Rim trail and race but trying to arrange crewing/pacing for this race is very difficult. Leadville is still open which would be a great race but the race is in Colorado. So I’m leaning toward running Rio since the location is so close to home and would be easier logistically.
That’s it on the run. More later.