Neither of the groups involved with what have become traditions at Crater Lake National Park are happy about having to cancel this year’s events, including the Crater Lake Rim Runs and the Ride the Rim Days, but they agree it’s a necessary decision.
“We wanted to be responsible about it. I think it is the right decision,” said Rob Coffman, race director for the Crater Lake Rim Runs, which have been held for 43 consecutive years each August. The Rim Runs feature distances of 6.7, 13.1 and 26.2 miles (marathon) and 6.7-mile walk. The event is limited to 500 entrants and typically draws runners from across the nation.
Coffman noted recent Rim Runs have gone on despite smoke from nearby forest fires and despite lightning storms.
“We’re planning on going August 14 next year,” Coffman said.
“If we can’t do it right, we shouldn’t do it,” Jim Chadderdon, executive director of Discover Klamath, said of the decision to cancel the two Saturday Ride the Rim events.
Discover Klamath has sponsored and promoted the Ride the Rim events the past several years. The rides, which have attracted upwards of 5,000 bicyclists and walkers over the two days, are held along a 23-mile portion of East Rim Drive that is closed to motorized vehicles from the North Entrance Road junction to park headquarters. This year’s rides were scheduled for September 12 and 18.
Chadderdon said the decision to cancel was reluctantly made after ongoing conversations with Crater Lake Superintendent Craig Ackerman and park staff. “It was a joint decision. It wasn’t hastily made,” he emphasized. “We really wanted to do it.”
More than 1,200 people have preregistered for this year’s now cancelled event.
Contributing factors included the withdrawal of sponsorship and financial donations from usual sources. “To pull off an event with 5,000 cyclists on two consecutive weekends takes a lot of money and support,” Chadderdon said, noting logistics include transporting participants from parking areas at park headquarters to the North Junction starting point, renting portable restrooms and other challenges.
He noted Discover Klamath typically provides $30,000 to $40,000 in promotion and sponsorship and estimates the event annually provides more than a million dollars in direct economic benefits to Klamath County.
Barry Grit, Friends of Crater Lake’s president, expressed disappointment that the Friends decided not to provide volunteers, who are largely age 60 and older, for the Ride the Rim weekends and other events because of health concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hopefully, this event will be back for 2021,” Grit said.
In addition, The Friends annual work weekend, where members volunteer for various park projects, such as upgrading trails, has also been cancelled.
“It is disappointing that we will not be able to grow the participant group that we had for the 2019 Project Weekend, but I hope the regulars and the newbies from 2019 will join us in 2021.” Grit said during the work weekend the volunteers stay in group campsites and have communal dinners, noting, “guideline-restricted work conditions make it impossible for us to have our normally wonderful time being Friends.”
The Friends annual meeting is scheduled September 26 at the park and the group hopes to hold its annual Winter Rim Desk Training session at a to-be-announced date this fall. During the winter, Friends volunteers staff an information desk at the Rim Village Gift Shop/Cafeteria and assist on ranger-guided snowshoe walks.