A participant in an ultra marathon in Tooele County last weekend got off-track and was rescued by a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter.
The runner in the Salt Flats 100, a 100-mile race from Friday to Saturday across and around the Salt Flats, missed a check point, prompting race officials to begin searching for her, said Lt. Travis Scharmann of the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement was soon called in to help.
A helicopter from the Utah Highway Patrol assisted with the search, he said, and found the woman early Saturday morning.
“They were lucky they found her when they did because the weather was getting worse and it was about 2 a.m. by the time they found her,” Scharmann said.
Vince Romney, a representative of the Salt Flats 100, said the incident was a “very isolated situation,” and that this was the first such incident in the four years the race has been held. He said the woman’s disappearance was the product of several factors, including a microburst of rain in the most remote part of the course and a dimming of light at dusk.
The woman missed a left turn from the mud flats west of Crater Island that would have taken her back to Silver Island, and became disoriented as she continued running, he said. Instead of returning to Silver Island, she began to run towards lights from a ranch near Pilot Peak. The woman’s location made it difficult to reach her even after she was found, which eventually necessitated the use of a helicopter.
“Our search and rescue team could see her headlamp out on the flats, but we couldn’t reach her by ATV because the mud trapped any vehicle attempting to access the mud flats there,” he wrote in an email.
The woman was taken by ambulance to Mountain West Medical Center for treatment of symptoms of hypothermia and dehydration, and was subsequently released, Scharmann said.