November 13

2014 Race Officially Postponed

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Well, we have some bad news. The permit for the race was surprisingly denied. That means we will be postponing the race until 2015. We could have tried to scramble and secure a less than awesome course, but we decided against it. Whatever course we figure out for 2015 is going to be awesome. We can promise that much.

If you want to know more about what happened you can read below. Otherwise, make sure you are on our email list so you can get up to date information regarding the race. We will make announcements about it by early to mid summer. Some of the roads are difficult to explore due to the imminent snow in the Jackson area. We’ll be evaluating our options as quickly as we can. We are sorry for the inconvenience. We really were surprised by the denial.

The Long Story

I had traveled up to the area in early July to scout out a course and meet with a potential host hotel. After driving around for 2-3 days we had settled on a fast course that offered truly stunning views of the Teton range.  The course we had planned on is here. With the majority of the course on a highway, and with the highway being multiple lanes and having a huge shoulder, we thought it would be quite easy to get the approval we were seeking.

By early September we had submitted the application with the Forest Service and had a conversation with WYDOT, who we assumed managed the highway. As it turns out, the highway is managed in large part by the forest service as well.

In late September, I received this letter from the forest service:

Rejection Letter – Bridger Teton
Rejection Letter – Bridger Teton pg2

The shutdown in early October slowed down our talks for a few weeks, but when I called in late October to get further clarification and see how I would need to alter the course in order to get approval, I was told there is nowhere in the entire Bridger-Teton Forest, Buffalo Ranger District, where a race could be held. It appears nobody in their office has ever been to running event because they kept telling me they were afraid of crowds of people on highway spectating. Even when I told them that the only time people aggregate is near the finish line they refused to believe me.

Additionally, on numerous occasions they told me that if I was going to call it the Grand Teton Half, that I should move the race to the park instead of their forest. They made the suggestion so often and so angrily at times that it seemed as though they were upset with me that were not going to call it the Bridger-Teton Half. It was weird.

In a nutshell, they believe that having runners on the highway for an hour or two in late August is going to dramatically affect how bears in the area operate. When we asked if there were a different time of year that would work, they said no. When we asked for them to explain further how runners could possibly affect the bears they refused to answer. Somehow runners pose more of a threat to bear activity than cars travelling 60 mph on a four lane highway.

I called the district ranger last week and asked him to reconsider the decision and he refused and further told me that there was nowhere in his park that we were welcome.

I have worked with other forest service officials and without exception (even when they have told me no) they have been extremely polite, professional and helpful. Working with these folks was incredibly frustrating. I know that oftentimes rangers have a challenging and thankless job. I love that as a country we protect our forests and wildlife. That being said, when and bureaucracy acts without reason, it can be hard to deal with.

If you are interested in getting clarification yourself regarding the race I have listed the contact information of the rangers below.

Thomas Matza
307-543-3910
tmatza@fs.fed.us

Deidre Witsen
307-739-5434
dwitsen@fs.fed.us

In any case, we are back to the drawing board regarding the course. Without having a great course ready, we are uncomfortable opening registration. As mentioned above, we will be working over the next few months to secure a beautiful course that can deliver a high quality running experience and will update here and on Facebook as often as we have news.


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