This message is to update you on potential changes to the 50 km course. The current forest conditions along with the ongoing draught has forced us to make contingency plans for the 50 km course in the event that fire restrictions force the closure of the National Forest. 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.
Currently 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 commensurate with potential fire hazards. Mitigation of this hazard includes limiting the race course to areas with reduced fuel loading in the event of a fire. In the event of forest closure the 50 km race course will be modified to areas with minimal fuel loading.
The current 50 km course remains the same as the course done last year. 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 Fire 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 restriction force the closure of the National Forest, assuming that are not 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.
To recap: The Los Alamos area is currently in Stage I fire restrictions and we are currently planning to run the 50 km route as planned. But do want to keep you informed of the possibility to a modified course if a forest closure goes into effect. 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 current course route, the course route that will be used if the forest is closed and updated cutoff times.