Thousands of athletes were prepared to run, bike and swim an IRONMAN event Sunday in North Lake Tahoe but, instead, organizers announced the race was canceled early in that morning.
Race officials say they were forced to cancel because of unhealthy and unsafe smoke in the air due to the King Fire.
"We were bummed. We drove a long way to get here only to find out it was over,” Bryan Rocha said. Rocha and his friends drove eight hours, from Southern California, to participate in the race.
Despite their disappointment, the athletes say they understand why the race had to be canceled.
"I’m grateful, that’s a huge decision with over three thousand people doing a competition," Judy Meserve said. Meserve came to watch her son race. She says as a parent, she agrees that calling it off was the smart decision.
Others in Tahoe for the weekend agreed that the air quality was too poor to breathe in, especially for athletes.
"If you’re exerting yourself like these athletes would be it would have put a lot of stress on their respiratory systems," Marianne Faker said.
As for Rocha and his friend, they say their training was not a waste because they’ll just continue preparing for their next race.
"There’s another one in October, these guys are racing again in November, so all is not lost,” Rocha said.
Many race participants still went swimming in Lake Tahoe, however they modified their workouts because of the smoke.