“The wild fires on the Kenai Peninsula over the past week have created extremely high smoke levels. One of the key parameters used to measure the amount of smoke in an area is the PM2.5 Air Quality Index. The PM2.5 AQI standard is reported in micrograms per cubic meter. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set this standard for healthy air conditions at less than 35 micrograms per cubic meter.
The current air quality conditions in the area where the Lost Lake Run is held – starting at the south end of the Kenai Lake (Primrose Campground) and finishing 15.8 miles south at the Bear Creek Fire Station – is only about 5 miles (as the crow flies) from one of the more serious wild fires on the Kenai Peninsula, near Cooper Landing. The PM2.5 AQI has reached over 600 at Cooper Landing. Smoke from that fire has reached Seward and levels as high as 400 were measured today.
The smoke levels for the Seward area are dependent on the wind conditions. A shift in those wind conditions last night led to the high measurements reported today. The wind forecast for Saturday indicates that these wind conditions will not change significantly. This means that we are likely to have MP2.5 AQI measurements higher than 35.
The Lost Lake Run is a fundraiser to raise money to defeat Cystic Fibrosis (CF). CF is a disease that affects the lungs. It would be counter to our mission to place mountain race participants into an environment that could negatively impact their lung health.
In addition to the unhealthy air conditions, the dense smoke has resulted in road closures along the Sterling Highway. The Lost Lake Run has many participants from Kenai, Homer, Soldotna, Sterling, Nikiski, Anchor Point and the neighboring areas. Also the buses we charter come from Soldotna. We do not want our participants, volunteers, and bus drivers to drive in unsafe road conditions to join us on Saturday.
Compounding matters, the National Weather Service issued a flood advisory announcement today that reported “Water will likely rise to the point of flooding the Primrose campground and other low lying areas by Friday afternoon.” This potentially places the starting line for the Lost Lake Run under water.
Fires and floods. What’s next? Locusts?
This evening the Lost Lake Run Board of Directors met to discuss the issues outlined above. By a unanimous vote, we have decided that the Lost Lake Run will NOT be held on Saturday, August 24, 2019. It was the Board’s decision, based on the information outlined above, that conducting the race on Saturday was too risky to the health and well being of our participants and volunteers.
I would like to thank all of the volunteers that had agreed to come to Seward and help us with the Lost Lake Run. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Without our wonderful volunteers, the Lost Lake Run would not be the event it has become.
The Board will be meeting next week to determine what the next steps will be in this unforeseen situation. We will be communicating with you following that discussion.”