Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Black Hills 100

This was the radar image around 10pm on Friday night before the start of the Black Hills 100 mile run. I was sitting in the Winnebago wondering when the temperature would drop and the terrible mugginess would ease.  I noticed a lot of lightening to the west so I opened up the Ipad and found this radar image.  I braced for the onslaught and it did get windy and rain a bit but then the storm just fizzled out.  I rechecked the radar and this cell had just vanished.  At least the air started moving and the temps moderated so I could sleep.

I had stayed in Sheridan post Bighorn until Thursday night and arrived in time to get some sleep and make it to the packet pickup around 10am.  I got to meet co-rd Chris Stores and Debbie Phillips the wife of co-rd Ryan Phillips here.  I got some of my questions about the course answered by Chris and was charmed by Debbie's contagious smile.  Ryan and Chris conducted the race briefing at 4pm and a pasta feed started not too long after the briefing.  Everything was well organized and I felt good about keeping on course and knowing what to expect out on the course.  Saw lots of friends including Beth Simpson and Larry Hall, Olga V and Larry King, Mike Smith, Dennis Drey, Patrick from Bighorn, Alan Holz and probably more that I don't remember.  The big concern for the race seemed to be the heat.

My biggest concern was my feet.  I had a terrible time with blisters at Bighorn and I still had two decent sized holes in my heels, one of which was still very tender.  The ball of my left foot was also still tender.  I came up with a taping strategy and hoped for the best.  Starting the race I was really worried as I could feel several different areas of .... discomfort.

The start and finish of the race is at a newly resurfaced track called Woodle field right in Sturgis.  It's a great place to stage the race from with a plenty of parking, a concession stand type building, and plenty of room for post race festivities.  Here's some pics from the start:

Dennis Drey and Mike Smith.  100 mile afficianados discussing the finer points of running insane distances.

Larry Hall's head and the start/finish line.

Co-RD Chris giving some last minute instructions.

One very cool thing that they did at the start was to invite Billy Good Voice Elk, a local member of the Lakota tribe, to say some words and send us off with a traditional Native American song/prayer.  Thank you for you kind and inspirational words!

Billy Good Voice Elk

The first 300 yards of the race.  100 mile, 50 mile and 100k runners all started together.
I'm not going to give a blow by blow of the course but you can roughly think of it as divided into two roughly equal (effort wise) halves.  The first half is the 29 miles to the Dalton Lakes AS which is the second drop bag spot.  The 21 miles to the turnaround is the second half.  The first half has a ton of really sweet dirt single track trails.  As advertised there were constant ups and downs and while there are several pretty good hills for the most part it was 150ft or less per hill.  Coming back on Sunday morning they seemed to have added a lot of small hills in the last 5 miles that I did not recall from the outbound  journey.

Some pics from the "first half":

A very early climb.  Once again I find myself near the back of the pack.

Dennis Drey showing the efficient stride that has brought him around the Hardrock course 8 times.

One of the hills that seemed much longer and harder on Sunday.

Sweet.  Many of the hills returning to town in the last 15 miles have steep ups and cruiser downs.

I believe this aid station was either Alkali Creek or Elk Creek.

One of the 100's  of carsonite signs that we followed.

Allan Holz and a blaze.  The course follows the Centennial Trail (a NRT) which is number 89, hence the  "Cruising the 89" from the race website.

A scenic highpoint.
There was one section of trail in the Elk Creek section where we were running up high above a beautiful rocky gorge.  I took a movie of it but had trouble getting it on the blog.  This section, past the Elk Creek AS, was the coolest part of the run in my opinion.

The second half of the course from Dalton Lakes to the turnaround in Silver City is very different from the first.  Here too there were sections of sweet single track but the character of this section is defined by double track that is more or less torn up by ATVs.  I didn't get too many pictures of this section probably because the trails weren't so pretty.  I did capture some of the character of the trail here but there were miles long sections of trail that were WAY worse than any of these pics show.

I believe this shot is on a long climb up out of Dalton Lakes where the "open to motor vehicles" section starts.

There was lots of this kind of stuff.

Add caption
Larry Hall, Beth Simpson-Hall and Mike Smith.  I took this from behind them to give everyone an idea of what I've been seeing all year.  Mike Smith has finished several hours ahead of me, though I see him during the race, in probably 6 or 7 100 milers this year!
This race was definitely a low point in the year for me.  I was hurting and unhappy for way too much of this run.  I was really having some negative thoughts about how much time, money and energy I was putting into this project that was causing me so much pain and doing harm to my body.  I'm really feeling beat up, unable to do the maintenance exercises for my back, and I'm developing hammer toes on the second toe from the outside on both feet.  As I sit and write this I'm deciding whether to give Angel Fire a shot or not this weekend.  I feel confident of being able to finish Hardrock in 2 1/2 weeks which is important to me but I don't know if I can do both.  And I just don't feel like doing another rocky 100.  I'll decide by tomorrow night.

Once again, cudos to race management and all the volunteers out on the course.  The event was well organized, well executed and everything was done necessary to get us to the finish.  There was food and beer at the finish line.  Yay!  Many people had already left when I got in at just under 31 hours but there was still plenty of tacos and some beer.  Thanks to Ryan, Debbie, Chris and everyone else who helped out last weekend.  

Liz had a great time doing the Great New York 100 mile finishing just over 24 hours.  I'll post a report if she writes one.

Race count:  Liz (18)  Scott (13)


  1. No shit! This one was a rocky bitch and relentless change of ups and downs, never mind the heat and humidity for a mountain. Sit it out, Scott. If Hardrock finish means a world, sit this one out and fix your feet - and your adrenalin level. From a med to a med.
    And hoe come I missed beer at the finish line? Nobody told me about beer!

  2. Thanks Olga. Maybe you missed the beer because you ran right past it! I forgot to mention in the report that Olga won the women's race, placed 6th overall, and finished nearly 5 hours ahead of me in 26:11. And that just happens to be a course record too! Congrats!

  3. Scott, thanks for the cool write-up. I have nowhere near the amount of insight/experience, but I agree with Olga, Hardrock is too important to go into injured/burnt. Hope Liz gives us a report. Maybe give her an MP3 player to talk into since she's too busy running?!? Both of you keep on trucking!

  4. You are having the same sort of thoughts I have around mile 70 of a hundred, but yours are multiplied by 13! What you are doing is amazing and very inspiring. Thanks for keeping up the race reports, and like Matt, I hope Liz will add hers. For what it's worth, maybe a break before Hardrock is just what you need to boost your morale a bit!

    1. Thanks Matt and Denise for the support! I've decided against Angel Fire. I've been slow to recover and I think it's at least partly because I've been at 6K+ feet since the race and I live at about 400ft. You just don't recover as well with that added stress. If I did Angel Fire I'd head right up to Silverton at 9k ft and my recovery would be even slower. So there it is. Finishing 30 for the year is looking difficult. I'll have to finish all the races I have scheduled through August and then do 3 per month Sept thru Dec. I'm going to see how the summer goes and then reassess.

    2. Scott, remember why you're doing it. I hope it is supposed to be something you're enjoying along the way, not only the end result. What you had already done is tremendous feat, so please take care of yourself and love what you do as you do it:) HEAL!

  5. Good decision, know as well as I do that Hardrock it it. What's this going to be, #6? Awesome...go for 30 Hardrock finishes instead, you're young enough ;-)
    See you soon, we're heading up tonight.