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Snowstorm hits Utah mountain race, dozens of runners rescued

October 10, 2021 GMT

FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — An unexpected snowstorm forced the rescue of dozens of runners in a long-distance trail race in the mountains of northern Utah.

None of the 87 or so runners rescued Saturday was hospitalized though several were treated for hypothermia and one was hurt in a fall, according to Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks.

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

The 50-mile (80-kilometer) race in the Francis Peak area between Ogden and Salt Lake City began at 5 a.m. Severe weather struck around four hours later. Some runners were wearing just shorts and a T-shirt, authorities said.

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

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

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Temperatures plummeted to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 7 Celsius) while as much as 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow fell in strong wind.

Rescuers using snowmobiles and other vehicles caught up with runners on the route and got them out of the mountains, KSL-TV reported.

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