A group of 87 ultramarathon runners were rescued on Saturday after they were left stranded by snow in a freezing Utah mountain range during the 50 mile race.
The runners for the DC Peaks 50 ultramarathon had stopped as the Wasatch Mountains became hammered with 12 to 18 inches of snow, with temperatures plunging into the 20s.
Rescue crews were called to the scene and searched for the missing runners for several hours using both on-foot and snow vehicle teams.
All of the runners were accounted for, and despite some being treated for hypothermia and minor injuries, none suffered serious enough injuries to require hospital treatment.
The race had begun at 5am at East Mountain Wilderness Park in Kaysville, with participants expected to run 50 miles to Tunnel Springs Park in North Salt Lake.
Ultramarathon runner Keith Bertoch shared this snap as snow fell during an ultramarathon on Utah’s Wasatch Peaks – but insists he will still be back again next year
Rescue crews arrived to the scene and found the runners more than five hours after they went missing. Some suffered hypothermia, but none required hospital treatment
Some of the runners are pictured warming back up after Saturday’s rescue
The organizers of the race had previously warned participants of the possibility of inclement weather but many runners said they were expecting rain rather than snow.
It was until 9:30am when the Davis County Sheriff’s Office were notified of the missing runners who were caught in the midst of the storm.
The race was then called off, as search and rescue teams began to scour the area for the missing participants.
‘Venturing onto the mountains, trails, and bodies of water at this time of year can be dangerous because the weather changes rapidly,’ Davis County sheriff Kelly V. Sparks said in a statement.
‘Even a mild rain in the valley can translate to blizzard conditions at higher elevations.’
Runner Keith Bertoch posted a collage of pics on Facebook as he and the other runners continued to trudge through the snow-filled mountains
Annie Bertoch MacDonald was also one of the 87 runners who were stranded during the ultra marathon
Sherrie Shepherd called the race ‘an epic adventure’ despite the fact that she had only run 15 miles before pummeled by icy rain and snow
Kelcey McClung Stowell, of Odgen, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the ‘unexpected’ snow came down ‘really, really heavily’ with winds of up to 30 to 40 miles per hour.
‘As it got colder and colder, it was getting scary,’ Stowell said.
‘The snow was getting so deep, we couldn’t see the trail. It was coming down like hail, and my hood froze to my face.’
‘I started shivering, but there was nothing we could do but get to the next aid station. So we just kept moving,’ she added.
Rescue teams searched for the runners on-foot and used snow mobiles as well
The DC Peaks 50 started at 5am East Mountain Wilderness Park in Kaysville where they were expected to run to Tunnel Springs Park in North Salt Lake before it was cut short
Stowell was also one of the runners treated for hypothermia after she and the other runners were rescued.
She said that they were taken to a truck with a heater blaster and were given hot broth and hot chocolate to cool down.
The missing runners were found more than five hours after the race began at around 2.45pm.
By 7pm, all runners were accounted for and the last volunteer had managed to make it down the mountain safely.
Runners were rescued at around 2.45pm and were taken to a truck with a heater blaster as well as being served hot broth and hot chocolate
Race organizer Jake Kilgore was grateful that rescue crews found all of the runners who were still eager to return next year despite the current weather setback.
‘The fact that we have every single runner accounted for means that this race was a very successful race today,’ Kilgore told the Salt Lake Tribune.
‘The rapid and collaborative response of our Search and Rescue volunteers, race organizers, and first responders from multiple agencies, resulted in minimal injuries and all runners returning home safely today,’ Sheriff Sparks added in her statement.
‘I extend my deep gratitude to everyone involved in this rescue effort.’
One participant, Keith Bartoch, shared a snap of snowy conditions as the weather deteriorated – and insists he’ll be back to run the same race again next year.
Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks released a statement detailing the treacherous weather conditions and announcing that all the runners were accounted for