Blizzard, whiteout conditions lead to 87 ultramarathon runners requiring rescue

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An unexpected blizzard forced the rescue of dozens of runners in a long-distance trail race in the mountains of northern Utah.

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None of the 87 or so runners rescued on Saturday were hospitalized, according to Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks, although several were treated for hypothermia and one suffered an injury.

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

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The 50-mile (80-kilometer) run in the Francis Peak area between Ogden and Salt Lake City began at 5 a.m., nearly four hours after severe weather arrived. Officials said some of the runners were wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.

Race organizers told runners to expect rain, but the rain turned to snow, said runner Kelsey McClung Stowell.

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“We thought, ‘We’ll be fine once we get to Francis Peak and then we’ll start coming down the mountain. We’ll get out of the snow and it’ll be fine,'” Stowell said. “But it just got awful.” . It was like a blizzard there. “

Temperatures dropped to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 7 Celsius), while strong winds brought down 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow.

Using snowmobiles and other vehicles, rescue teams caught runners en route and pulled them out of the mountains, KSL-TV reported.

All runners accounted for by 2:45 p.m.

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