LETTER: Utra-Running Events a Step Ahead in Responsible Stewardship

By Beacon Staff

Ultra-running events require at least eight hours of trail work just to be eligible to enter 100-mile events. It is my experience that a majority of participants far exceed this minimum requirement. We realize it’s a privilege to be in many of the areas we recreate and want to see that our privileges aren’t taken away. If any trash is on the trail, we even pick up trash that was there before the event. Every race, including the Swan Crest 100 has “trail-sweepers” that not only pick up all the trash and take down the course markings, but determine which, if any, parts of the course could use some maintenance.

How many other sports require trail work before you can participate? I think the sport is already a step ahead in responsible stewardship. We are conservationists and want to see habitats protected and preserved. Keith Hammer’s statements consist of a lot of “what-ifs” and speculation. To compare running with mountain biking and motorcycle riding is ridiculous. As far as environmental impact, how is running more of a threat to the environment than walking (which we do a lot of)? On my last 100-miler, I averaged 14:29 minute miles Are running shoes more damaging to the trail than hiking boots? Many Hikers use trail running shoes instead of boots anyway. How does the ground know the difference?

The race could have 500 participants and no one could tell the difference the day after a race. I know, I put on races and take part in events that are much larger in size than the Swan Crest 100. As far as this setting precedent for mountain bike and motorcycle races to be allowed, how does he draw that conclusion? The Forest Service decides which user groups are granted permits. If I follow Hammer’s rationale, I could conclude that people should no longer hike on these public lands because monster truck drivers will want a race next year. How would Keith Hammer feel if we suggested that he move his weekly group hikes to the local mall, as to avoid potential bear-human contact?

I agree that wildlife and environment should be protected and not taken for granted, but Keith using ultra-running community as the target is farfetched and unwarranted. If he chooses to litigate (as he’s been known to do), let him pay for all the attorney fees and court costs. This I-will-sue-you-if-I-can’t-get-my-way mentality should not be supported, unless there is an actual reason. Also, the race is not a commercial endeavor as he suggests, no more than the donations he receives for his hiking club. Please let the Swan Crest 100 go on as planned. Ultra-running is a low-impact sport that is comprised of people who care about wildlife and the environment. We act to improve the environment and leave it better than when we got there. We take only pictures and and leave no trash, only that occasional footprints that fade with the wind.

Alvin Crain
Mount Vernon, Wash.

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