Ironman Tahoe officials eye smoke patterns; Sunday’s race still a go
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Despite the region choking on smoke recently from the nearby King Fire, Ironman officials expect Sunday’s Lake Tahoe triathlon to occur as scheduled.
“At this point in time, we are monitoring the fire and smoke situation with Calfire, our medical team and other local authorities,” Keats McGonical, operations manager for Ironman, wrote in an email to the Sierra Sun early Wednesday. “As the smoke pattern changes throughout the day — and the fact that we are still four days from the event — we are not planning on making any changes at this time.”
As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, the King Fire had burned 18,544 acres near the south fork of the American River, about an hour or so west of South Lake Tahoe.
Heavy smoke filtered into the Tahoe-Truckee region Sunday, Monday and Tuesday afternoons.
According to the National Weather Service, more smoke is expected Wednesday and Thursday, as prevailing winds from the southwest could gust to up to 25 mph, up to 40 mph at lower elevations and 60 mph across the Sierra ridge.
However, patterns are expected to shift Friday, pushing smoke into the Central Valley; sunny skies are expected this weekend, according to NWS.
“If conditions change before the event we will adjust accordingly,” McGonical said.
READ MORE: The second annual Ironman Lake Tahoe is expected to garner roughly 8,000 to 10,000 spectators. Due to all the people and needs for race boundaries, several road closures will be in effect Sunday. You can click here to read more about them.
Over the years, as wildfire activity has grown across the West, weather inversions have forced heavy smoke from incidents hundreds of miles away to settle in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Last year, with the massive Rim Fire burning near Yosemite National Park, officials were forced to cancel the 2013 Lake Tahoe Triathlon and the Alpine 2 Squaw 10K Challenge.
Further, smoke was so prevalent during the summer of 2008, several staple races in the area were canceled for health reasons, including the Western States Endurance Run and Donner Lake Triathlon.
During both summers, the smoke cut visibility to less than a mile, and many regional high school and prep sporting events also were postponed or canceled.
“The safety of athletes and spectators is of course paramount to (Ironman),” Andy Chapman, chief marketing officer for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association, said Tuesday evening. “But there is absolutely no indication or thoughts about any kind of cancellations for Sunday’s race, nor would there be until race day.”
READ MORE: Several Ironman-related events and races are planned this weekend in Truckee and across the North Shore. You can click here to read more about the entire schedule.
The 2014 Ironman Lake Tahoe triathlon is scheduled for the morning of Sunday, Sept. 21, when more than 2,500 athletes will attempt to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles in succession throughout the North Shore/Truckee region.
Further, the Ironman 70.3 race, also known as a Half Ironman, debuts this Sunday at Lake Tahoe. It will lead athletes through a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run on the same terrain as the full-distance triathlon.