This weekend was The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship event. 2 days of running the beautiful trails in the San Fransico/Bay area.
Saturday they ran a 50 mile, 50k, Marathon, Relay, and kids event on the trails in the area. They did so in the rain, the mud and the wind. The gutted it out in difficult, at best conditions.
Sunday was a scheduled Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, and kids run.
Late on Saturday a decision was made to cancel the Sunday event. The West coast has been under constant rain, constant wind, and there was little relief in site. In fact according to the National Weather Service, things were about to get a whole lot worse. The trails were already stressed from the Saturday events and the weather was looking to cause major damage overnight and into Sunday.
The race organizers made the decision to cancel the event with the following notice to runners. This notice was emailed, posted on the website, and on facebook.
ATTENTION SUNDAY RUNNERS:
After an inspiring day on the trails, it saddens us to announce the cancellation of all Sunday race distances. Currently there are three national weather alerts putting the Coastal North Bay on flash flood watch and high wind alert that could result in landslides and debris flow. These elements will not only create conditions that go beyond what is safe, it will also put extreme stress on the trails themselves. Please standby for further details regarding the cancellation.
The North Face is allowing anyone registered in this event to register for ANY of the 6 endurance challenge events next year, including the championship event.
The North Face is not double charging these entrants. They understand that weather can sometimes cause issues, and they seem to be attempting to “make it right”. They cannot refund flights, hotels, etc. Yet they are doing something many of the major road races do not do, and we think that is the right call.
We at TrailsRoc obviously love the trails. We understand running on them in those conditions would have done two things.
1. It would have ruined the trails. It would have created erosion, damage, and put so much undo stress on the trail systems that it would have taken hours on hours of manpower, and lots of unavailable cash to put them back together again.
2. It would have put people lives in danger. Flash floods, landslides, debris flow, high winds, downed trees. These are all reasons to stay out of the woods in our mind. No one ever wins when they fight mother nature. The trails can be challenge enough, The North Face recognized this.
The other point is that not just the runners would have been in danger. Many runners vented on facebook about how they are “endurance athletes” ,how they “signed a waiver”, how they should be allowed to make a choice on if they wanted to risk a life. They were not thinking about the others involved. They were not thinking about aid station volunteers, EMT staff, race organizers, set up, take down, course markings etc.They were not thinking about how much actually goes in to an event like this, and how many OTHER people would be at risk. They were thinking that they wanted to go run.
I think The North Face made the right call. With this call, both the runners, and the trails live to see another day.
What do you think? Did they make the right call. Let’s drive some discussion here. Let’s hear from our fellow trail lovers. Should the event have been cancelled or not?
Leave us a comment.