50 Mile Course Update - April 26, 2018
This message is to update you on the 50 mile course. The current forest conditions along with the ongoing draught has forced us to make some additional modifications to the 50 mile course. The Los Alamos area has had an extremely dry winter with almost no snow. The Pajarito Ski Area, which is on part of the course, was completely free of snow this year by the middle of April. There are typically still some snow patches on the ski hill during the race in mid to late May. Since the last course update Email earlier this month, the Los Alamos area has been placed in Stage I Fire Restrictions, the earliest on record that fire restrictions have been issued for the Los Alamos area. There is a good probability that additional fire restrictions or a forest closure will go into effect before the race date.
We have been working closely with the Santa Fe National Forest to develop a plan of action to ensure runner safety is commensurate with potential fire and winds hazards. Mitigation of these hazards include limiting the race course to areas with reduced fuel load in the event of a fire, areas with reasonable access for excavation in case of fire, and avoiding areas of high hazard trees. In the event of forest closure the race course will be modified to areas with minimal fuel loading.
With these conditions present, the previously revised course with the off-trail segment is no longer viable. This section has too many hazard trees for safe passage during windy conditions and the remote area would make it extremely difficult for evacuation if a wild fire started during the event. The revised 50 mile course will now follow the 50 km route up to and over the Pajarito Ski Area and then use additional trails closer to town to achieve 50 miles in distance. Details can be found on the JMTR Course page. This route will be used if the Los Alamos Area is in Stage I or II Restrictions on race day.
In the event of a forest closure, we will use a modified route closer to town. Details will be posted on the race website soon. We have been assured by the Forest Service that we will be able to hold the event even if the fire restrictions force the closure of the Santa Fe National Forest, assuming there are no other unforeseen circumstances effecting runner safety.
Race officials along with the Santa Fe National Forest will be assessing the situation as we approach the race date. We believe that it is likely that additional fire restrictions will go into effect, but this is hard to predict. Current conditions are assessed weekly to determine the fire restrictions. Several criteria are used to determine when to implement fire restrictions, including fire activity levels, current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, and the availability of firefighting resources. Fire restriction criteria is routinely evaluated and restrictions could be upgraded or downgraded at any time.
While the new race course is not the same as you originally signed up for, we believe that this course will still provide you with a challenging run in a safe environment and within confines of our permits with the various land management agencies. Some of you may not be happy about these changes and we agree with you. Creating new course routes and contingency courses are not something that we want to be doing so close to the race date. I hope that you understand that the weather and forest conditions are beyond our control.
Please be aware that our official policy is no refund, transfer of entry, or roll over to another year. This may sound harsh but most of the race expenses have already been incurred. The refund policy is designed to ensure a financially sustainable race from year to year. We have not considered how the courses changes this year may affect our refund policy. This will only be considered after the event is complete and we have analyzed our income and expenses.
To recap: Current forest conditions have forced us to make changes to the 50 mile course. Revised course information is posted on the JMTR website. The Los Alamos area is currently in Stage I Fire Restrictions and we are currently planning to run the revised 50 mile route over the Pajarito Ski Hill. If a forest closure goes into effect we will run a different course closer to town. We will inform you of this situation if it occurs.
The 2018 Runner’s Manual will be updated soon and will include details of the revised course for Stage I and II Fire Restrictions, the course route that will be used if the forest is closed and updated cutoff times.