Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Forest Fire Smoke at Western States - Going To Be An Issue?

So I arrived at Lake Tahoe today to find...actually to not find...the Lake due to substantial drift smoke from the over 800 forest fires going on in California right now. One of them, called the Foresthill Fire (earlier called the Mosquito Fire), is a 75 acre fire on Mosquito Ridge Road not too far from the Bath Road aid station (mile 60.6). It is contained as of this morning, but the smoke hanging in the valleys remains substantial. I took a jog this morning, and although I wasn't "hacking", I was as dry as a desert sandstorm at high noon in hell. Hopefully this isn't going to be a factor for the Western States 100 on Saturday...

The current weather forecasts for Foresthill (as accurate as they can be this far out) say this should all blow over by Friday, returning to the 95-100 degree heat we all know and love. However, the SpareTheAir forecast says unhealthy levels of smoke and particles will remain through the weekend thanks to Delta breezes pulling even more from the Napa fires, and high pressure over the area will create a heat vortex on top of that. There is also a slight chance of thunderstorms - sweet! Note to self...add Visine, oxygen masks, and rain gear to the Michigan Bluff drop bag...

- SD


  1. Keep your fingers crossed this stuff will blow over! Three days and counting...

  2. Hadn't even thought of this. There is the smell of smoke in the air every morning when I've gone out, and there are no nearby large fires. 800+ fires, the whole northern half of the state is going to burn down...more lightning storms expected, and all those damned tossed cigarette butts by lazy, idiot smokers.

    Assuming all's well, good luck!

  3. btw, when you're dying in the heat, just be thankful it's that dry, western heat, and not the muggy stuff everywhere else.

  4. I got this forwarded to me this morning.... keep our finger crossed... Gary

    Here is what is going on here right now:

    It is starting to look pretty likely that Western States will be canceled this year. I will know later on this morning (by 10:00 am for sure) after the board meets with the forest service again.

    There are currently two large fires on either side of the course around the Deadwood Canyon area. They are continuing to burn as the fire service is spread to thinly (fighting the other 800+ fires in CA right now) to go in to do anything about them. As of this morning there is an 80% chance that they will cross the WS course in some spot.

    There is also not much chance of rerouting the race (a consideration that was being batted around last night by the board) as the fire could go in any direction and the chance of it trapping crew or volunteers on one of the access roads into the course seems very high.

    This is such disastrous news on so many levels it is hard to put into words how sad I am for everyone involved in the race (including myself).

    Back to you with the final news in a few hours.

  5. I don't think the race is going to happen this year. The Foresthill Fire is not contained and blocking access to aid stations. Smoke is at unhealthy levels. Rumor has it the Western States Board of Directors needs to make a decision tonight, and given the facts, it's probably a no go.

    Everyone get on the list for TRT100...


  6. Update: Fire Situation


    I would have folks refrain from rumors and wait till the board makes their decision.


  7. We should know by 6:30 pm.
    The WS board is meeting now.

    I know a lot of people are bummed. but the fire situation is getting worse. there is a 3rd fire, and one of them crosses the Foresthill divded road today. The road is currently closed.

    the smoke is really bad, not sure if one want to be running 100 mile in that condition.

    it is just not safe and healthy to be up there rightnow.


  8. greg said formal annoucement will come out at 8 pm. :-(

  9. I backed out of running WS 10 days ago due to "biomechanical issues"...yet as I read all this, I am sicked with dissapointment that the run may not happen. I know the WS Board of Directors and Greg S will do whatever the "right thing" is...yet I am physically sickened by the stress runners, pacers, crews, RD and everyone surely feels right now...I had no idea until checking my email minutes ago. May the best decision for all prevail!

  10. It's been cancelled. Officially. No postponement, nor reroute. :(

  11. Dear Western States Runners,

    It is with deep regret that we announce today that the 35th running of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run has been cancelled, due to the unprecedented amount of wildfires that have struck northern California in recent days and the health risks that have been associated with these wildfires. The Board of Trustees of the Western States Endurance Run has consulted with many of our local and state race partners, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, in coming to this decision. We apologize to our runners for any inconvenience this decision has created...

  12. quoting from email just sent to all entrants

  13. With the official word cancelling the event. It was a most difficult decision by the board. There will be comments that the race could go on. But in my opinion race directors have to look at the health and safety of all the participants,crew volunteers etc..At the same time we can all feel for those that trained long and hard for the event..some it may have been there only shot at WS...It is sad but the correct decision.

    Tony Lafferty

  14. I'm so so sorry...but better for your and others' safety and health. Still - it sucks.

  15. I feel bad for all the runners. It is a great disappointment after all the hard work and the excitement that builds up the days before the run. I was looking forward to volunteering. Now all these prepared runners will hopefully sign up for the other 100 milers comming up in the next couple of months. Headlands 100 and Rio Del Lago are two good possibilites in northern CA. TRT is already full, and if the fires continue, who knows that might be cancelled too. Hopefully that doesn't happen.

  16. I'm having a beer on the smoke-cased deck, trying my darndest to take pride in the fact that I did manage to get in the best shape of my life for this weekend. Oddly, I can barely summon the energy to think about another race once the drop bags were unpacked. I'm sure it will pass, and I can start obsessing about the next one. It will probably take me another three years to get a slot at States anyway. ;-)

    This next beer is for all you who tapered down and were ready to give it their best, runners and volunteers alike. You will all have your day. Salut!


  17. Cheers and condolences to you as well Scott.

    We are on Beer #5 and thinking of going for 100 this weekend.

    This was supposed to be my first 100. 8 Years of waiting 7 months of training, best shape of my life, super bummed.


  18. Even as a complete outsider to the sport of ultra running, I'm just so bummed for all of you. I can't even imagine the disappointment. JB, your post (and Scott's lottery comment) really hit home.

    Congrats to all of you, in spite of everything.

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