A group of 87 ultramarathon runners were rescued Saturday after being stranded by snow in a frigid Utah mountain range during the 50-mile race.
The runners of the DC Peaks 50 ultra marathon had stopped when the Wasatch Mountains were ravaged by 12 to 18 inches of snow, with temperatures dropping into the 1920s.
Rescue teams were called to the scene and searched for the missing runners for hours using teams on foot and snow vehicles.
All runners ended up and while some were treated for hypothermia and minor injuries, none suffered serious enough injuries to require hospital treatment.
The race had started at 5 a.m. at East Mountain Wilderness Park in Kaysville, with participants expected to run 80 miles to Tunnel Springs Park in North Salt Lake.
Ultramarathon runner Keith Bertoch shared this photo when snow fell during an ultramarathon at Utah’s Wasatch Peaks — but insists he’ll still be back next year
Rescue teams arrived on the scene and found the runners more than five hours after they disappeared. Some suffered from hypothermia, but none needed hospital treatment
In the photo, some runners are warming up after Saturday’s rescue
Race organizers had previously warned participants of the possibility of inclement weather, but many runners said they expected rain rather than snow.
It wasn’t until 9:30 a.m. when the Davis County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the missing runners caught in the middle of the storm.
The race was then called off, as search and rescue teams began scouring the area for the missing participants.
“At this time of year it can be dangerous to go up the mountains, trails and waters because the weather changes quickly,” Davis County Sheriff Kelly V. Sparks said in a statement.
“Even mild rain in the valley can translate into blizzards at higher elevations.”
The Davis County Search & Rescue team was notified of the missing runners around 9:30 a.m
Rescue teams searched for the runners both on foot and with snow vehicles
Kelcey McClung Stowell, of Odgen, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the “unexpected” snow fell “really, really heavy” with winds of up to 30 to 40 miles per hour.
“As it got colder and colder, it got scary,” Stowell said.
“The snow got so deep we couldn’t see the trail. It came down like hail and my hood froze to my face.’
“I started to shiver, but there was nothing we could do but go to the next aid station. So we just kept moving,” she added.
The DC Peaks 50 started at 5 a.m. East Mountain Wilderness Park in Kaysville, where they were expected to run to Tunnel Springs Park in North Salt Lake before being demolished
Stowell was also one of the runners treated for hypothermia after she and the other runners were rescued.
She said they were taken to a truck with a heater and given hot broth and hot chocolate to cool down.
The missing runners were found more than five hours after the race started around 2:45 PM.
By 7 pm all runners had been counted and the last volunteer had managed to descend the mountain safely.
Runners were rescued around 2:45pm and taken to a truck with a heating blaster, as well as hot broth and hot chocolate
Race organizer Jake Kilgore was grateful that rescue teams found all the runners who, despite the current setback, were still eager to return next year.
“The fact that we are counting all the riders means that this race was a very successful race today,” Kilgore told the Salt Lake Tribune.
“The prompt and concerted response from our Search and Rescue volunteers, race organizers and multi-agency first responders resulted in minimal injuries and all runners returned home safely today,” Sheriff Sparks added in her statement.
“I express my deep gratitude to everyone involved in this rescue effort.”
One entrant, Keith Bartoch, shared a photo of snowy conditions as the weather deteriorated – and insists he will be back next year to run the same race again.
Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks released a statement detailing the treacherous weather conditions and announced that all runners are responsible for