This was a really tough year for Ironman athletes. Tough because after months of endurance training they were unable to compete.
Ironman competitors lined up at 6:30am this morning at Kings Beach State Recreation Area where they were turned away last minute. At the eleventh hour race officials made a tough call to cancel the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 due to unsafe and unhealthy air quality.
On September 13 a fire began in Pollock Pines, California that has since burned 81,000 acres, and still only 10 percent contained. As smoke from the wildfire descended on Lake Tahoe all week, athletes arrived in the area, gearing up for the big race. Ultimately, officials pulled the plug this morning due to unsafe and unhealthy air quality.
Competitors would have swam the clear blue waters of Lake Tahoe, cycled through Tahoe City, past Squaw Valley, up and over Brockway Summit at 7,200′ elevation, and completed miles upon miles on foot along Truckee River, down to Homewood and back to Squaw Valley for the big finish (right next to Squaw Valley Lodge!).
The heartbreaking turn of events has thousands of athletes defeated, but with the air quality at dangerously poor levels, officials felt this decision was the safest for competitors and spectators alike. With the course taking place at 6,000'+ elevation, Ironman athletes would have needed every bit of oxygen they could get-and this was a risk officials were not willing to take. Sadly, Tahoe with its clean mountain air is generally the perfect place to train and race.
Despite today's change of events, we have enjoyed serving the Ironman community this weekend at Squaw Valley, and we look to next year with high hopes!