Mount Marathon junior race canceled due to air quality
Smoke from the Swan Lake wildfire canceled the junior's race at Mount Marathon on Thursday.
The decision was based on the air quality. The men's and women's race is still happening as scheduled at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.
"Unhealthy levels for children and teenagers, those are limits that have been established by federal agencies like the EPA," said Jen Leahy, Communications Director of the Seward Chamber of Commerce, on Wednesday. "And so the advice we’ve received from medical professionals is that is that if we exceed that threshold and we're into unhealthy air for some sensitive groups then the most prudent course action is to cancel the junior’s race."
The air quality reading needed to be at level 100, but Thursday morning it was at 171 when officials called off the race. By 8:46 a.m., air quality was at 187 parts per million.
"I’m going to be breathing really hard because of the all-out exertion of just the mountain," said Kendall Kramer, the 2018 junior girls champion, on Wednesday. "And so all of the really fine smoke particles in my lungs could damage it and get into my bloodstream and it wouldn’t be worth it because the ski season is coming up and I really need that."
Kramer planned to wear a mask. She thought her time would be lowered due to it. But breathing in the smoke was not an option. Kramer, an incoming senior at West Valley High School, is one of the top skiers in the state and now bursting onto the national scene.
Leahy says people in the men's, women's and junior's races have already taken the officials' offer to defer to next year's race. Essentially, with the smoke a concern, they can opt to sit out this year.
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