Ultra runners outrun by weather, floods, have to be rescued

Getting an early start and checking the weather in advance might have saved two runners from a backcountry rescue earlier this week.

According to the Mono County Sheriff's Department, on the evening of Wednesday, August 6, at approximately 6 p.m., Mono County Sheriff’s dispatch received notification that a SPOT device had been activated on the Pacific Crest Trail near Upper Piute Meadows.

Two ultra-marathon runners were attempting to run from Tuolumne Meadows to Sonora Pass in 24 hours. They departed Tuolumne Meadows around noon, carrying only minimal food and supplies, when severe weather caught them off guard on the PCT Trail near Upper Piute Meadows.

Numerous storm cells were passing through the area and stream crossings and flooding were high concerns. The runners activated their SPOT device. The Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was called to aid the runners.

Six search and rescue team members responded to the incident. The team staged in Bridgeport and readied food and shelter to be hiked in to the runners. A Longhorn helicopter from Fallon also responded to help the SAR ground team.

The helicopter crew located the runners, safely hoisted them aboard the helicopter and transported them to the Bridgeport Airport.

Mono County Paramedics assessed the runners, one of whom was experiencing stage-two hypothermia. After providing warmth and food, SAR team members transported the runners to their vehicle parked in Tuolumne Meadows.