Hello Runners, Crew, Observers, and Passers-by!
I decided to add a blog to the site, and post thoughts about the race throughout the year (as it is pretty much a year-round activity in my world now). The 2014 Event was epic on so many levels, that I thought it would be good to start to voice my feelings about it in this first post.
The NOAA radar picture Friday morning looked a little concerning with a number of storm cells in the area but the temperatures were good, and the forecast was wildly variable from hour to hour, so we started the race on time and sent the runners out onto the beautiful salt flats. All was looking good until just before dusk, when both the weather, and the NOAA radar picture turned very ugly. 80 mile per hour winds hit various parts of the course, and by night-fall the rain was in full force.
It turns out, the rainstorm was a "100 year storm"... average April rainfall is 0.40 inches, and this one storm alone was 1.1 inches. Temperature fell to below freezing by 0400. The entire Salt Flats flooded with 6" of water by 0600. Runners were dropping at every aid station, and the volunteers were shifting to Hypothermia triage rather than aid station workers. The racers that came through the finish in the dark were at various stages of hypothermia, and we quickly shuttled them into the trailer and fed them hot soup.
The 50 milers who were supposed to start at 0500 and run out on the Salt Flats ended up being re-routed twice... once off the salt (as it was under water), and again off the dirt roads (as aid vehicles were sliding off the road and unable to get out to the aid stations). It was chaotic, stressful, and insane. By 1000 on Saturday, the sun was poking through the clouds, the rain had stopped, and it was perfect running weather again. I thought back to the previous 3 years and how each had it's own "character", but all had been pretty friendly compared to this. It is truly amazing how much can change during the course of a 100 mile event.
When all was said and done, everyone was safe (one rescue did occur, proving our SAR and Comm team are truly world-class). All vehicles were accounted for, although one was stuck for several more days until Ray Smith (Assistant RD) and I could get out and extract it after the mud had dried a bit. One of the portable toilets was blown 2 1/2 miles away from it's original position on the Salt Flats. I found course flagging alongside the freeway near Wendover, many miles from its closest possible origin.
The Salt Flats is always a harsh environment. On the website I state that runners and volunteers alike should be prepared for any weather, but I must admit that mother nature hit with all she had this time, and it challenged every facet of the event. Good emergency plans, excellent personnel, and great teamwork paid off, and the event was a success despite all of it.
Epic. No other word for it.