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Kanab, Utah's Weekly Newspaper, Serving Kane County, Utah & the Arizona Strip

Southern Utah News Front Page: October 21, 2021

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Tragedy occurs during Grand CircleTrailfest

Thunder Mountain Trail, near Red Canyon, where runner Renee Pickard died during the popular Trailfest event, hosted in Kanab, Utah.

By Neal Brown

On Saturday, October 2, Renee Pickard, 62, Wilkesboro, North Carolina, passed away while competing in the Grand Circle Trailfest event hosted in Kanab. As part of the three-day running event, she was running a half marathon on the Thunder Mountain Trail, near Red Canyon in Garfield County, when she collapsed. 

According to the Garfield County Sheriff’s office, first responders performed CPR, but lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful. Though there has been much speculation on Pickard’s cause of death, the Garfield County medical examiner stated the official cause of death is still undetermined, as they are waiting for final autopsy results. 

The Trailfest event held a touching tribute that night in honor of their fellow runner, who many became friends with over the three-day running event. 

“There is no easy way to handle a tragedy of this magnitude as an event company,” said Trailfest event organizer Dehn Craig. “This is not a scenario we ever want to think about.  Renee’s tragic accident was devastating to our community. We mourn her loss and our thoughts are with her family and loved ones. 

“The first people to respond on scene - before our staff and before emergency services - were her fellow runners, some medically trained and others who lacked training but were no less willing and eager to offer assistance. Notifying our participants of the situation was difficult, but necessary. We took time in our nightly debrief meeting to bring our employees, volunteers and participants together to share the news with them. We acknowledged the loss of this sister from our running family, spent a moment together in silence, and asked everyone to join us in sending out love to those she left behind. Collectively, we honored Renee’s legacy and processed our grief together while running on the trails she loved for the remainder of our event."

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