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The fires that have wreaked havoc in Northern California are threatening the cancellation of this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 and Ironman Lake Tahoe races. An article on Tahoedailytribune.com attributes the poor air quality to the Butte, Rough and Yosemite fires that are burning nearby. The article also states that though the Tahoe area is expected to remain relatively clear for the next few days, a high pressure system could bring smoke back over the weekend. Both races are set to take place on Sunday, with the Ironman athletes starting at 6:40 a.m. and the 70.3 athletes following at 8 a.m.
Race organizers are hopeful that Sunday’s races will go on as planned. “Ironman race officials are moving forward with plans to conduct Sunday’s event based upon current weather and smoke forecasts provided by public safety officials,” a statement on the Ironman Lake Tahoe Facebook page said. “Air quality in these circumstances is dictated by weather, fire behavior, wind direction, and wind speed, all of which change hourly in the Sierra Nevada. Ironman endeavors to do all that it can to provide a safe race for our athletes. As was the case last year, we will make every effort to conduct the event as long as circumstances permit. Any decision to modify or cancel an event is based upon the health and safety of athletes, volunteers, spectators, public safety personnel and staff out on the course.”
Ironman Lake Tahoe has a tumultuous history with near freezing conditions causing a 20% DNF rate in the inaugural event in 2013 and poor air quality from wildfires causing the cancellation of the 2014 races.
Organizers already have a plan in place should the races be cancelled:
– All registered athletes for the 2015 Ironman Lake Tahoe or Ironman 70.3 Lake Tahoe race will be provided either a transfer opportunity or a reduced entry fee for select open events.
– The 50 2016 Ironman World Championship slots and the 30 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship slots will be randomly selected among checked-in athletes.
Check back to Triathlete.com as we continue to follow this story.