STURGIS | The sun warmed Nemo Road below John Horns' feet as he propelled himself toward the aid station at mile 36.
"Let's go John, right here," shouted Bill Pomerenke, Horn's friend and crew member.
Horns of Edina, Minn., was the second 100-mile racer to reach the Nemo Guest Ranch aid station during Saturday's Black Hills 100 Ultramarathon. Jeremy Bradford of Denver arrived at the 36-mile mark only moments before Horns, who won last year's 100-kilometer race.
Pomerenke and fellow crew member Alex Kurt had cold water and a tackle box full of fixes for runner ailments waiting for Horns, who felt strong as he recouped at the station.
"It's hot out there," said Horns, who immediately headed for shade and shared a bit of advice. "Hunker down. Always try to run within yourself."
With temperatures hovering near 90 degrees on Saturday, the heat added to an already challenging course for the more than 200 racers signed up to compete in the 100-mile, 100-kilometer and 50-mile races, which started at 6 a.m. at Woodle Field in Sturgis.
Jeremy Gleason of Salt Lake City, Utah, manned the aid station on Saturday and said the heat could be a game changer for the runners.
"It's definitely going to be tough," said Gleason, who planned to run this weekend's 100-kilometer race before pulling a hamstring. "It'll take its toll."
The 100-mile racers would pass back through the Nemo Guest Ranch aid station after turning around at the halfway point in Silver City.
Eight aid stations line the 100-mile race route, which travels south from Sturgis along the Centennial Trail, relentlessly climbing up and down. The drastic elevation changes and a wicked thunderstorm last year led to a low 35-percent finish rate among the 100-mile racers.
Although Horns was close behind Bradford on Saturday, a lot can change with 64 miles left in a competition that does not see its first runners cross the finish line until hour 23 and 24. But, racers have until 2 p.m. on Sunday to finish.
"We've got a lot of trail left," said Horns, before setting off for the Silver City turnaround point at mile 50. "Every day is a good day on the trail."
Brian Glaspell's two children, Ava, 8, and Kitson, 5, raced out to their dad when he reached Nemo Road and ran beside him until he got to the aid station.
"They were going too fast," said Glaspell, about his children as he sat under the tent drinking water and catching his breath.
From Laramie, Wyo., Saturday was Glaspell's first 100-mile race, but he did run the 50-mile race last year.
"It's going alright. It's a pretty warm day," Glaspell said. "I'm right on the pace that I planned."