This decision is understandably frustrating to some who naturally wanted to finish the race and continue on in what they felt was just inclement weather. Under normal circumstances rain would not be sufficient reason for a cancellation however in this region and on this terrain extreme amounts of rain can be very dangerous. The storm that knocked out power to 75,000 people in Phoenix, tore roofs off buildings with 60+mph winds, closed roadways, traveled north and hit the course dumping the course with rain, strong winds and dropped the temperature almost 15 degrees almost instantaneously.
The four lead runners passed through Washington Park mile 51 nearly an hour before the storm hit and ultimately were stopped at Hell's Gate Aid Station and brought back down. 5th place and on back were held at Washington Park until the unanimous decision was made to cancel the race and avoid a potentially disastrous situation with dozens of more runners entering a fast deteriorating trail and high risk of flash flooding. Storms were forecast'd throughout the evening with more lightning. This proved to be accurate as it continued to downpour on and off, drenching an already saturated terrain further increasing flash flood risks long after the race was called off.
I know this region and these trails better than most anyone. I've spent an extensive amount of time on every section, in every kind of climate, weather, and scenario. While some runners are better suited for these challenging scenarios, with more experience in that kind of weather, the consideration for the safety of ALL runners had to be taken into account.
I don't expect all the runners to agree with this decision. Nor do they need to. I have a responsibility for the safety of all the runners, volunteers, crews, and these take priority over qualifying for Hardrock, reaching a personal running goal or obtaining a buckle. It is very unfortunate and disappointing for all of us. I spend a great deal of my time, my weekends, my evenings and my free time in general, on top of a very busy work schedule, to put on this race with the help of a lot of friends and volunteers. I've heard people complaining that we canceled the race "because it was raining." That is not accurate. Because of the excessive rain, and the terrain of the area, we are heavily prone to flash flooding in the area. Both the runners and along the control road where all the runners family and crew were driving to meet them. I've heard the Bear 100 rained for 12 hours and they didn't cancel their race. Bear is in Utah. We are in Arizona. You can't compare the two just because they both had raindrops. Different terrain, different landscapes, significantly different flash flood potentials.
For those that are downright angry with me for making this decision I ask for you to take a deep breath. It's just running. It's just a race. I cannot control the weather and I stand by my decision as the right one. There is an overwhelming number of veteran ultrarunners, RD's that were present and those in the race itself that stated their agreement with the decision based on the facts at hand. This wasn't a decision that was made lightly or one that any of us wanted to see happen. We spent the next four hours after the cancellation working to orchestrate an evacuation of all the runners from the course that chose not to run the safer sections coming down the Rim to Washington Park. Crews, volunteers, HAM radio support were incredibly generous with their time and vehicle space to get people back to Pine. We had all the runners accounted for by 9pm and everyone off the course.
I am truly greatful for all the support from the runners coming off the Rim for 51 miles and their understanding of the decision. Your overwhelming support is appreciated. Hopefully in 2015 we can have weather more in line with the first two years, 75 and sunny.