By Darrin Eisman
July 9, 2002 (Boulder, CO) – It is with great regret that I must inform you that the 2002 Off-Road Endurance Challenge at Rifle Gap has been canceled. After many months of planning, hundreds of hours of work, and thousands of dollars in expenses, I must now do the hardest part and that is cancel the race.
Due to the extreme fire danger and ongoing drought conditions across the State of Colorado, I feel that at this time it would be irresponsible to continue with plans to hold the event.
There were several factors which have influenced my decision. First and foremost is the issue of the safety of the athletes competing. As a result of the various fires which have been burning across the state of Colorado and in the greater Rifle area, the human resources necessary to provide a safe event for the 200 athletes entered has been severely depleted.
In a race as extreme and physically demanding as the Off-Road Endurance Challenge at Rifle Gap, with well over 10,000 feet of elevation gain, temperatures nearing triple-digits, and a course that is often quite remote, I feel that it is mandatory that qualified support personnel be available to assist the athletes. I have recently learned that at this time the necessary support is no longer available and I have been unsuccessful in finding replacements.
Other factors influencing my decision include an overwhelming number of spectators who have contacted me in recent weeks regarding the race. At this time, it appears likely that more than 1,000 spectators from all over the country plan to be on the course on race weekend, and with the extreme fire danger, the risk of an accidental fire has become too great.
Rifle has received just 1.75 inches of precipitation since the first of the year. As a result, the dust levels on the course and particularly the JQS Road are very high. Not only will this affect your performance and your health, if it is windy on race day, visibility will be seriously impaired.
And finally, the water level at Rifle Gap State Park is currently dropping at over 6 inches per day. This means the water will be another 6 feet lower on race day, potentially compromising the swim course.
I realize that most of you have made travel arrangements, and I apologize for the inconvenience I know I was looking forward to this event as much as the rest of you. I will be sending you information shortly regarding the refund of entry fees, and roll-over of entry fees to other events.