South Dakota: Deadwood Mickelson Trail marathon

At my first trail marathon in Florida the year before, other runners told me this was an amazing race and should not be missed. I looked it up and planned a week around it the next year. The website has plenty of easy to find information. I didn’t find a way around the expensive flight into Rapid City but the rental car and hotels were not too bad. I stayed in Rapid City the first night, then got to Deadwood in time for packet pickup on Saturday. Unlike most trail races, this one had an actual expo with many things for sale. I had a lot planned for the day, so I didn’t browse. After sightseeing, I headed back to the hotel and got ready for race day.

I stayed at a hotel just across from the shuttles to the start and woke up in enough time to catch one of the first buses to the start line about 45 minutes away. We waited for the start in a small parking area on the shady side of the road and it was cold. Runners were climbing the hillside to get warmed by the sun. There were plenty of portapotties, water, and maybe coffee? We were able to drop warm clothes to be taken back to the finish up until the minute before we started. The only part of the course I hadn’t been able to figure out before the race was the first mile where we did an out and back along the road before hitting the trail. Here it is:

We stayed on Mickelson Trail through the finish at a parking lot in Deadwood. The trail was nice, wide, mostly gravel and not at all technical. It was a bright, cloudless day, but not too hot. Even though some sections are exposed, it was comfortable all day. It was a pretty trail and there was good support. I have no complaints but even after only a few races, it wasn’t what I had come to think of as trail. It’s a lot softer than road though. The last few miles were on paved paths. By the time I finished, there wasn’t much for food left but the massage therapists were still there and were great! I took a bus back to the hotel but it was close enough that I might as well have walked.

Uphill, then downhill.
Creek along the trail. Beautiful day for a race.

Off trail: Just down the road from Deadwood is Lead, SD, home of what was previously Homestake mine and now Sanford Lab. My parents and I were meeting in the Black Hills after the race and decided this was worth a quick pre-race visit.

Former entrance to Homestake Mine.
3D map of the mine and all of it’s tunnels.

The next stop with my parents was a hike to the Devil’s Bathtub in Spearfish Canyon.

I then went my separate way and drove to nearby Wyoming and Devil’s Tower where I could watch people climb and prairie dogs play.

Post race was a quick trip to Mt. Rushmore, then a drive south on Monday to meet my parents for hikes in the Black Hills, cave tours, wildlife viewing, then a trip to the Badlands. I will spare you all of the pictures, but hopefully this persuaded you there’s a lot to do in southwest South Dakota.

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