“Venturing into the mountains, trails and bodies of water this time of year can be dangerous as the weather changes quickly,” Davis County Sheriff Kelly V. Sparks said in a statement. . “Even light rain in the valley can result in blizzard conditions at higher elevations.”
The DC Peaks 50, which stood for the first time, was to take runners along a mountainous course made up mostly of trails but also including service roads and 2.5 miles of paved road, according to the website of the race. It is described on the website as “a difficult course” with a vertical gain of approximately 11,700 feet and a descent of 8,637 feet.
Jake Kilgore, a race director, said he and the other manager, Mick Garrison, spent two years planning the race, working with the United States Forest Service and others on the road. There were 87 runners in the race and six aid stations along the way, each led by an experienced ultramarathoner, Mr Kilgore said.
The runners were about 8 miles from the race when conditions deteriorated, he said.
“It was raining at the start line, and he had forecast rain,” said Kilgore. “No one expected more than a foot of snow at Francis Peak. No one.”
He said ultramarathoners are aware of the risks involved in the sport, such as big wave surfers or kitesurfers. After the race was canceled, he said, the runners emailed him to say they were safe and “they are all excited to be back next year.”
“The fact that we took every rider into account means that this race was a very successful race today,” said Mr. Kilgore.
Once considered a niche extreme sport, ultrarunning has grown in popularity over the past two decades. Critics have argued that some of the races began to blur the lines between the hardy and the reckless, and in the process shifted the definition of an endurance race from conquering long distances to surviving the elements.