This race is harder than you think it is. To be honest, the Black Hills don't look all that intimidating. They ain't the high Rockies of Colorado. There aren't any 14,000 foot peaks (hell, the high point of South Dakota is barely half that). But the Centennial Trail is RELENTLESS. If we had a dollar for every time somebody said, "That was way harder than I thought it would be", we could retire from race directing and spend the rest of our days drinking beer on a beach in Hawaii. The finish rate for the 100 typically hovers around 35-40%. Whereas much of the elevation gain at other 100s such as Leadville and Bighorn occurs in a few big climbs, the gain at Black Hills is accumulated in a bunch of small chunks. To make a boxing analogy, it’s like taking a few big uppercuts to the chin versus a bunch of body shots. Both will eventually put you on the mat if you’re not prepared.
The race takes place the last weekend of June each year, the same weekend as Western States (yes, we did that on purpose). Trying to predict the weather in June in South Dakota is like trying to capture a unicorn. We've damn near seen it all...from 100 degrees and bone dry to pouring rain with raging creek crossings to marble-size hail. No snow yet, but it wouldn't shock us.
Moral of the story is, come prepared. The Centennial Trail and the Black Hills are beautiful, but they will chew you up and spit you out at a moment's notice if you take them lightly.
The 100 mile begins and ends at the City Park in Sturgis. The first mile follows the paved city bike path east to the Fort Meade trailhead. From there, the course takes to the Centennial Trail (Trail #89), which is mostly singletrack trail with some short sections of old logging roads and a 13 mile stretch of ATV trail thrown in. First and last mile are on paved bike path; the rest is dirt. The last few miles before the turnaround are on the Deerfield Trail (Trail #40), a beautiful stretch of singletrack that will drop you down to the halfway point at Silver City, where you'll turn and retrace your steps back to Sturgis. The 100M race has 8 aid stations along the way, 7 of which are visited twice. Runners may leave drop bags at three trailheads: Elk Creek (miles 16/84), Dalton Lake (29/71) and Silver City (50).
The 50 mile race follows the back half of the 100 mile course, starting in Silver City and running back to Sturgis. Runners will be bused up to Silver City bright and early Saturday morning and will run back down the Deerfield and Centennial trails to Sturgis. 50 milers will have 7 aid stations along the way with drop bags at Dalton Lake (mile 21) and Elk Creek (34).
New for 2017, the 50K course will start up the road from the Dalton Lake Trailhead. You'll get a brief chance to stretch your legs and spread out along the road before hitting the Centennial at Dalton Lake and heading north to Sturgis. Buses will be available to transport runners from Sturgis to the start in the morning.
The 30K race is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of trail/ultra running without having to tackle 50+ miles. Buses will transport 30Kers from Sturgis to the start line on Saturday morning. The 30K will start along Runkle Road, about 1/2 mile above the Elk Creek trailhead. The course follows Runkle Road to the trailhead, where it joins the Centennial and heads north to the finish in Sturgis. The 30K course includes 3 aid stations.
These events are held under special use permit with the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, which share management responsibility for the trails we use. Please be courteous of the trails (i.e., no littering) and help us to maintain our good standing with these agencies.
Disclaimer: All elevation data was generated with an online mapping program, using data from our GPS tracks of the course. Commercial GPS units are notoriously bad at calculating elevation gain/loss. Therefore, these numbers should not be taken too seriously, but we constantly get asked what they are, so here ya go....
Local time: 1:36 PM
Gain - 18,556
Loss - 18,556
Gain - 8,656
Loss - 9,900
Gain - 3,381
Loss - 4,641
This race is brand spankin new for 2017...we'll get the stats posted as soon as we get them figured out. Spoiler: the numbers will be less than the 50 mile but more than the 30K.