Organizers of the Two Bear Marathon are actively monitoring the air quality and smoky conditions and on Saturday will decide whether the race will proceed the following day.
In a post on Facebook, organizers said the worsening air quality is creating health concerns for participants and volunteers. A final decision will be made mid-day Saturday. The marathon and half marathon are scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 10 in downtown Whitefish.
“Since sending out our air quality policy the air in Whitefish has severely climbed into the very unhealthy zone,” the organizers said. “Please understand that our ultimate goal is the well being of racers and our volunteers.”
The smoke conditions blanketing the Flathead Valley are listed as “very unhealthy” on Thursday. When air quality is considered “very unhealthy,” health officials recommend that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid any outdoor activity. Everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.
If the smoke clears to a healthier level, the race will go on, organizers said. If participants have already canceled travel plans, organizers will defer their registration to next year.
If the races are canceled, runners can have their registration deferred to next year or receive a refund of 20 percent of the entry fee. Runners can also donate their registration to The Wave’s scholarship fund, which is the benefactor of proceeds from the race.
The Montana Dragon Boat Festival in Lakeside was canceled as well. Organizers announced the decision on Sept. 6. The Flathead Invitational high school cross country meet scheduled for this weekend was also canceled.