Marathon runner recounts her experience on Francis Peak

Oct 9, 2021, 6:12 PM | Updated: Oct 11, 2021, 4:47 pm
Conditions looking toward Francis Peak on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Photo Credit: Colby Walker, KSL....
Conditions looking toward Francis Peak on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Photo Credit: Colby Walker, KSL.



KAYSVILLE, Utah — Kelcey Stowell was one of the many runners who participated in Saturday’s 50-mile ultramarathon, involving Francis Peak in Davis County.

She was among a group of runners who got an early start on the race, leaving at 4:30 a.m. The official start to the race was at 5:30 a.m.

As it turns out, it was a race day that Stowell likely won’t forget about anytime soon.

About four hours after the race started, search and rescue from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office was called in regards to 87 runners who needed assistance getting off Francis Peak due to severe weather. She was one of those runners.

Rain was expected

Stowell knew weather might be an issue. However, she never thought it would be as bad as she experienced.

“We were expecting rain,” Stowell said to KSL NewsRadio’s Adam Small. “They told us expect rain. So everyone was dressed for rain weather. So it was raining at the start.”

Stowell said as the group of runners started going up in elevation, snowflakes started to fall.

“It was a very light powder,” she said. “We thought it was kind of fun at first.”

But as the runners began to make their way toward Francis Peak, the snow started coming down even harder.

“It was way before Francis,” Stowell said. “But maybe to the top of the Great Western. It really started snowing hard, and then the wind started kicking up, and then it started getting really cold.”

Stowell and her running group decided they would get to the top of Francis Peak. Once there, they would then come down Farmington Canyon.

She said everyone assumed everything would be OK. However, that wasn’t the case.

“But it turned terrible up there,” she said. “I mean it was just like a blizzard up there. The winds were so strong, and it was just pelting us. And everybody was already wet from the rain, so it made conditions much worse.”

Getting off Francis Peak

As conditions got worse, Stowell and her group were a mile away from an aid station at top of Francis Peak. A race official approached them from the opposite  direction and informed them the race was being called. The official told them to get to the aid station and they would get them off the mountain.

“I think the race directors made an amazing decision to call it,” Stowell said. “It was getting quite bad.”

According to Stowell, a transport at the aid station that would have taken the runners back down the mountain was stuck in snow. So the group had to go back down the mountain to where trucks from search and rescue were waiting for them.

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