Wildfires Stop Ultrarunner Tony K in His Tracks

For months Colorado Springs ultrarunner Tony Krupicka has been focused on a single challenge: getting ready for one of the most prestigious events in his sport, the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run in northern California, scheduled for the weekend of June 27-28.

But despite his string of unbeaten (and often record-shattering) runs on other grueling courses, including the Leadville 100, Krupicka he had to jump through some hoops just to qualify for this year's WSER, as described in our April profile of the 24-year-old phenom, "Miles & Miles."

WSER was going to be Krupicka's chance to face his stiffest competition yet. He trained even more obsessively than usual for this one; check out his blog for the details. But some things just can't be managed --— like the 840 wildfires raging in California right now, after 3,200 lightning strikes in the Tahoe National Forest on June 21 alone. The heavy smoke (shown in this photo), proximity of fires to the race course and other factors prompted organizers to cancel this year's WSER.

If there's a silver lining in those clouds of soot for Krupicka and other disappointed athletes, it's this: Everyone on this year's final start list gets automatic entry in the 2009 race. –Alan Prendergast