Ultra runners rescued from mountains in Davis County

Oct 9, 2021, 6:42 PM | Updated: Feb 14, 2023, 4:08 pm

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — Close to 90 runners were rescued off the mountains east of Davis County Saturday after bad weather moved into the area during a 50-mile ultra trail marathon.

The Davis County Sheriff’s Office was made aware of the issue by DC Peaks 50 organizers around 9:30 a.m.

“As they (the ultra runners) climbed up the mountain, they ran into snow, and on top, there’s about 12 to 18 inches,” said Sheriff Kelly V. Sparks with DCSO.

Runners at the top of Thurston’s Peak said they couldn’t see the person right in front of them.

“It was really white-out conditions. Many of their runners were in some trouble,” said Sparks.

(Davis County Sheriff's Search and Rescue) (Davis County Sheriff's Search and Rescue) (Davis County Sheriff's Search and Rescue)

Davis County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue was then called out, along with some deputies from the Sheriff’s Office.

“We went up and were able to cover the entire race course utilizing 4x4s (and) snowmobiles, and we had many search and rescue members out on foot,” said Sparks.

People involved in the race said the runners were wearing trackers, so nobody was technically lost, but they were in peril, and many wore nothing more than running shoes, shorts and a t-shirt.

“Over several hours, we were able to account for all of the runners,” said the sheriff.

Around 2:30 p.m. was when the last runner was identified and accounted for.

The Davis County sheriff went on to say that the race was terminated at Farmington Canyon, adding that the 87 participants — who were found in various states of distress — were brought down and out the mouth of that canyon.

A triage center was then set up at the bottom of the mountain by members of the Farmington Fire and South Davis Fire departments.

Several runners were treated for hypothermia, with one runner also being treated for injuries sustained in a fall, according to Sparks. None of them required hospitalization.

“We feel very fortunate today that there were no serious injuries,” said Sparks.

The sheriff continued, “Obviously, weather conditions at that elevation can be extreme, even when it’s just a mild rain in the valley. We get a lot of snow this time of year at the top of the mountain.”

He stressed the importance of being prepared for these kinds of conditions.

“We normally recommend that people that venture into the mountains this time of year be very prepared — wear warm clothing, wear layered clothing and take extra precautions and extra warm articles to keep themselves safe,” he said.

A Facebook post from the Davis County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue added, “Just a friendly reminder to be aware of weather conditions before you head out to enjoy the great outdoors.”

Sparks said the runners were all scattered along the path of the race, which starts at East Mountain Wilderness Park in Kaysville and ends at Tunnel Springs Park in North Salt Lake for a total of 50 miles.

According to the DC Peaks 50 website, it’s a difficult course “with approximately 11,700 feet of vertical gain and 8,637 feet of descent.”

The furthest anyone made it Saturday was mile 18.

Some of the runners said it was a tough call to cancel the race.

“You have very competitive runners that are trying to win the race,” said ultra runner Annie MacDonald.

She said the most frustrating part is not the hypothermia or frost bite; it’s not being able to finish.

“Everybody who was out there will go sign up for another one tomorrow, probably,” MacDonald said laughing. “That’s kind of how we all operate.”

Many of the runners told KSL-TV they hope to do the race again next year, but hope the weather will be on their side next time.

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Ultra runners rescued from mountains in Davis County