Black Hills Endurance March and Veterans Marathon Sept 2020
The Black Hills of South Dakota.
I stumbled into this race by accident. In the time of Covid, a lot of races had called off. This one had a plan in place. They intended to go with the race. They also had a full refund policy in case they had to cancel. All items that made me interested in the event.
There is a lot I can say about this event. This biggest is that if you want a race for a completely worthwhile cause, I would recommend this one. This helps raise money for veterans organizations.
This event is kind of unique. There is no timing mat. It is a pass/fail (completion) event. You have to complete 110 miles over 4 days. The catch is, you have to walk it.
You also can’t go all night. The trail rules require you to be off of It by ½ hour after sunset. You are also recommended to be with a team. The first 3 days you have to support yourself. The last day, the Black Hills Veterans Marathon is going on at the same time. There are aid stations along the way.
To get here, there are so many things you can see if you drive. I live in Ohio. I drove across the country to get to the race and packet pickup. I made it a 3 day trip. We stopped in Wisconsin the first day, Sioux Falls the second day, and Rapid City on Day 3.
Along the way, you can see things like the Dignity Sculpture (Chamberlain, S. Dak.) , Wall Drug (Wall S.Dak.), an old missile silo (near Wall), Dinosaur Park (Rapid City), the walk of Presidents (Rapid City), and even Mount Moriah Cemetery (Deadwood).
Packet pickup was in Rapid City, South Dakota. Packet pickup is Monday. The event starts Wednesday. Once you pick up your packet, you have to make your way into the southern Black hills for the start of the race. Edgemont, S. Dak. There is no easy way to get there, and you don’t want to leave a rental there. You arent coming back there. Your end point is 110 miles away up the Mickelson Trail.
You walk the Entire Black Hills. 2 Ultra Marathons. a short day, and a marathon. 110 Miles
From the website. To describe what is next.
“This endurance event is broke down into four segments/days. The first three segments are all self-contained; you will be in charge of your own nourishment, hydration, lodging, medical support and transportation.
The fourth segment is in conjunction with the participants of the one day Black Hills Veterans March and Marathon. This day there is many rest stops with food, drink and a competitive spirit to help urge you to the finish line.
Water points, small shelters, and latrines are located about every 8 miles along the trail, it is highly recommend to carry enough water sustain yourself between points.
From the website:
The 4 days are as follows,
- Day 1 starts in Edgemont, SD at the Edgemont Trailhead and finishes in Pringle, SD (32.1 miles)
- Day 2 will starts In Pringle, SD at the Pringle Trailhead: and finishes in Hill City, SD at the Burlington Northern Hill City Trailhead, (28 miles)
- Day 3 will start in Hill City, SD at the Burlington Northern Hill City Trailhead, and end in Rochford, SD (22.5miles) (add 1.2 miles at the end)
- Day 4 will start in Rochford, SD at the Rochford Trailhead and end at the Deadwood rodeo grounds (26.2 miles)
Start time is 0500 each day, it will be dark so bring headlamps/flashlights etc.
If you ever wanted to do 3 ultlra marathons in 4 days, here you go.
So, what does this mean?
You are part of a team for 4 days. The first 3 you are basically on your own and self supported.
I got lucky and was a last minute entry. I was able to get onto a team that was short a person. Otherwise, I am not sure what I would have done.
The people on my team were wonderful. I consider myself in shape as a marathoner. My team was easily faster than me each day.
It is very dark, and if you don’t have a headlamp you are sooooooooooooo screwed. The trail is boring but beautiful. Bring a podcast or 14.
At the end of day one you see the Pringle bicycle sculpture
If I actually drank the beer that I earned in one of the pictures, I would be having a really bad day.
You will see Crazy Horse
On day 3
We saw frost. By noon it was easily 80-85. The week before the race they had a foot of snow in Deadwood.
So you walk. And you walk. And you walk. And you walk.The altitude is between 3500 and 7000 ft most days. If you want to run it, good luck. Especially if you are not used to altitude.
Day 3 is more fun because you start to occasionally see people when you get out of Hill City. Day 3 is all when you are going to start paying for the error of your ways if you are not used to walking long distances. I hard a hard time moving at the end of the day. Day 4
The last day, I really wanted to knock South Dakota off of my 50 states list. SO I double entered. I did the marathon as well as finishing the 110 miles.
I ended up going up the trail with a high school friend that I hadn’t seen since we graduated. She lived local. She had never done a distance greater than a 10k walking. So…Imagine doing 26.2 on literally no training. She did stellar.
The day was long and I had to have a hiking pole for most of it. It helped me to keep going and maintain my balance.
Getting into Deadwood at the end of 109 miles felt so good. And then the last mile took forever. I eventually crossed the finish line, barely able to move, but I was able to sprint the last bit in. Go figure.
I will say this, If you aren’t used to the long distance, you will pay for it.
By the end of day 3 I had a hard time walking.
By the end of day 4 I just hurt. I couldn’t run for 3 weeks after when I was done.
We stayed in hotels each night. You cant camp along the trail. Each morning was cold, I had to wear gloves because it was so cold.
At the start of the event, the trees were all green. By day 3 the leaves were turning.
There was 17 of us that started. 14 of us finished. The race staff was outstanding. The RD for the 110miler was going up the trail with us. The whole group are the nicest people!
It was all for a good cause. Supporting Veterans organizations in and around South Dakota.