A Beautiful Black Hills Marathon

I guess I’ve been a little silent since my last race. I’ve been focused on rest and treating another injury (a soft tissue injury to my right calf). Ugh. But I shouldn’t wait any longer to write about the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon. It was a great race and a fun weekend with friends!

I flew by myself to meet up with Jim and Jody for the weekend (and several other Marathon Maniac friends were there too). The day consisted of sampling some mediocre South Dakota beers, catching my first glimpse of the Black Hills scenery, and learning that the dining options in Deadwood were very limited: casino buffets (and not as nice as the ones in Las Vegas), or greasy spoon/bar type food. We had dinner at the Social Club, hung out with Ted for a little bit, then later at our hotel (Cadillac Jack’s) we had a chance meeting wth Main Mainacs #2 and #3.
Jody, Jim, Chris, Cade, Tony, Sandy

Our next day in South Dakota was all about sight-seeing. We arrived at Mount Rushmore just before the fog lifted and had a nice visit of the memorial with Lori and Mike. I attempted to recreate a photo of my mom at Mount Rushmore in, probably, 1969.

Jody, Jim, Me, Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo, Mike, Lori...with George, Tom, Teddy and Abe

Mom (Ruth) at Mount Rushmore, circa 1969 (?)
Daughter (Sandy) at Mount Rushmore, 2014
Next, we were off to Custer State Park and drove the loop there. The wildlife did not disappoint! We had up-close encounters with antelope, buffalo, prairie dogs and more. Got lots of great pictures and enjoyed the time in the park.

Where the antelope play, anyway...

Mama and baby buffalo; there were so many calves

My favorite buffalo picture

Wildlife watching worked up an appetite, so we stopped for a late lunch in the town of Custer, which proved more interesting to us than Deadwood. It was less tacky (unlike the casinos of Deadwood) and had better dining options. We sampled more, and better, South Dakota beer there.

Note the "Custer" sign up in the treeline

After a drive-by of the Crazy Horse Memorial (Jim said we could save our money because the view from the road was just about as good as the view inside the property), we were headed back to Deadwood and had a low-key evening. The hotel gave us $15/day of free money to gamble with, and Jody managed to turn it into enough to cover our gasoline for our weekend of touring.

Race morning came early, as they usually do. We had to catch a bus to the starting line in a town called Rochford. We would then run north up the Mickelson Trail, a converted rail trail, and into Deadwood.

Maniacs before the start of Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon
A more casual pre-race pic; that's Lou with the Gu bag, about to finish his 50th state
The peak elevation on the course was around 6,000 ft, and the first 14 miles of the course were a gradual incline. It was tougher than I thought it would be, even after we started running downhill. I ran most of the race with Fran and had a great time. This was truly one of the most beautiful marathon course I’ve ever run.

Fran at one of the many bridges on this course

Fran heads into the tunnel

Beautiful course! Looked a lot like this for miles and miles!

I loved this course!
A few of us Maniacs at the finish: Jody, me, Fran, Tom, Lori, Mike, Jim

After the race we all had some rest and then met Tony and Chris at the Lodge at Deadwood for what ended up being our best meal in South Dakota, at the classiest hotel in town. We also celebrated Lou’s completion of his 50th state. Up and to the airport early the next morning, my whirlwind tour of the Black Hills was over. Thanks to Jim and Jody for a fun weekend, and thanks to mother nature for providing the perfect backdrop for this marathon weekend.


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