I am sorry. I feel lucky things weren’t worse than they were. I barely survived as it was and even weeks later I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I think back to how things went on race day. We’ve all had our bad days out there and usually later we get to brag to our buddies over beer and burgers on how we overcame all the obstacles to make it to the finish line or trailhead. I’ve had my fair share of harrowing trail adventures, one even required a search party of forest service employees, where in the midst of them I’ve cussed at myself for getting myself into such situations, for not being better equipped for the weather, for pressing on despite the sun lowering on the horizon, for not bringing enough food or water or electrolytes or all three, for venturing out on to steep, icy slopes without protection… I could go on. I’ve always made it out alive. Maybe a little lighter around the waist or a little grayer in the beard. And I’ve always bragged afterwards, relishing in the attention. But this time it’s different.
The difference this time was that my bad decisions, procrastinations, and over estimation of my abilities not only affected me all alone out in the mountains but also negatively affected the runners and volunteers in the Sun Mountain 50M/50K/25K/1K. As Race Director I believe it is my first responsibility to see to the safety of the runners, volunteers and spectators. I see everything else involved in directing a race as secondary. Yet through a dangerous combination of procrastination and believing I could do most of the pre-race preparations myself and some last minute setbacks prior to the race and race morning we wound up with a dynamic situation that easily could’ve been much worse than it turned out in the end.
At 5:00 am as I was driving the four early starters out to the starting line up at the head of Twisp River Valley I considered cancelling the races. I knew how precarious the situation was and I was worried I would not be able to get the course marked in time but in the end I felt I had enough time-- the areas that still needed to be marked were at the tail end of the races. Yet as the day unfolded with the 50 mile early and regular starters on their way, new wrenches were being thrown in the works. I won’t get into the details but more than a couple things went awry and in the end it resulted in some of the fastest runners from the 50 m, 50 km and 25 km getting to sections of their courses before I got them marked. This sent runners off course costing them time and in some cases their leading positions. Or in some cases it gave some runners unintended shortcuts which resulted in them being disqualified(even though it wasn’t their fault). This could’ve been much worse if even just one of those runners gotten truly lost.
There were other mistakes that I made that made for a less than enjoyable race for the runners aswell. There was a section for the 50 km and 50 m runners, late in the race, that was probably too long between aid stations and there were sections of the trail that were marked but should have been marked even better, one of which resulted in an unidentifiable number of the ultrarunners missing a three mile loop that had no course marshall or check point.
All of this created a situation where to no fault of their own the 25 km leader just one mile from the finish got off course and it cost him the win, where some if not all of the top runners in the 25 km,50km and 50 m lost time, ran extra distance and in two cases resulted in DQ’s, and due to the possibility of numerous 50 km and 50 m runners from the front to the back accidentally skipped three miles of the course the results are basically a mess and impossible to verify their accuracy.
I feel like I really dropped the ball. A race should be safe, fun, well marked, well supported, challenging, and the results should be accurate and posted timely. This was not the case and it was my fault. Again, I am sorry. Any runner that for any reason is unhappy or unsatisfied with this race because of these errors on my part are welcome and encouraged to ask me for a full refund or complimentary entry in a future Rainshadow Running race.