Western South Dakota is a special place in the midwest, if heading west from the center of the nation it is the start of the mountains in the northern US.
The Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota and Wyoming contain 1.25 million acres of hills, trails, lakes, and forest. Meaning there are some darn good running locations!
Below, I’ll highlight my 5 favorite race locations in the Black Hills!
Michelson Trail / Deadwood
There are multiple races on this rails to trails gravel path. From the Lean Horse 100, its relay, all the way down to the 30k, to the two full or half marathons, this trail certainly gets used by runners.
The Crazy Horse half marathon and the Deadwood Half Marathon are favorites of mine. They are net downhills, but the gravel slows you down enough to make it a fair race. The marathons are both great course profiles, but watch out for the and very gradual climbs.
Victoria Secret Dirty Half
This event is a very, very, long half marathon near Victoria Lake (which doesn’t actually exist anymore).
Featuring a lot of very technical trails, stream crossings, and plenty of elevation change, you may notice a few runners wearing bandages on knees, elbows, and palms at the finish-line food buffet.
The comradely at this trail race is one of the best things about the event. Everyone hangs around at the finish, chatting, eating, and seeing if their names gets drawn for one of the many random prizes from local businesses.
There are a couple races in Spearfish Canyon. I love the half marathon as it’s a straight shot top to bottom through the canyon.
My favorite thing about this run is the view. You’re running down the canyon on pavement or the gravel alongside the road. What I’m trying to say is that you can actually look up and enjoy the view of the canyon instead of having to watch your footing because you’re on technical trails!
But be careful if you’ve not done a lot of downhill running, such a course can leave you very sore for days if you’re not accustomed!
Heart of the Hills
This 10.4 mile race is another great point to point course in the Black Hills. This one is from Hill City to historic Keystone following the old 1880 train route.
Featuring only two fairly steep but short climbs, the rest is a nice pavement downhill like Spearfish Canyon. While the views are not quite as special, the finish line at the 1880 Train station is a lot of fun and Keystone features some great shopping and restaurants within very close proximity to the finish.
Crow Peak Ascent (& Descent)
Last up is Crow Peak. As you can see, the view from the top is incredible. It feels like you can see the entire world from up there.
Unfortunately, that means this heavy 10k is 5km of pure technical and steep torture going up and rather sketchy But boy, is it worth it!
What are some of YOUR favorite SoDak events?