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Clint Burleson has moved the South Dakota leg of the five-state Center of the Nation Marathon Series from the Belle Fourche Reservoir at Orman Dam into Belle Fourche on the RiverWalk bike and walking path. The New Mexico organizer of the marathons said the advantage to the in-town location is safety from traffic.

Milo Dailey, Butte County Post photos

Clint Burleson has moved the South Dakota leg of the five-day, five event Center of the Nation Marathon Series into town to run on the RiverWalk bike and walking path.

The New Mexico organizer of the five marathons said the series begins in North Dakota Sept. 16, moves to headquarter in Belle Fourche for runs in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, then heads to Chadron for the final event Sept. 20.

Burleson said he made the change from Rocky Point State Recreation Area at the Belle Fourche Reservoir for several reasons.

"The state park out there is nice, but this is entirely off the roads and no traffic to worry about," he said. "It's beautiful here, and we're going to be starting just north of the visitor center and the race will run down there through the avenue of flags."

That adds spectator opportunity throughout Belle Fourche.

"The back deck at the chamber will be just perfect," he said. "You will be able to watch runners in every direction and the finish line will be right out from the chamber's deck."

The course has been set so that runners will do 12 circuits for the marathon and six circuits for the half marathon runners.

He said the path's concrete surface is harder than asphalt such as encountered at the famous Boston marathon, but runners can run on the grass - and modern running shoes are very well cushioned.

Many of the runners planning for the Center of the Nation series have been at the Boston marathon that was marred this year by terrorist bombs.

"A dozen or two went to Boston," Burleson said. "None of them luckily were hurt."

Burleson credits Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce executive Teresa Schanzenbach with helping to get the series organized in Belle Fourche and with law enforcement agencies.

"We now have runners coming from 38 states," he said. "About a total of 170 runners are signed up, giving us around 137 per day because some runners are running just one; many of the runners are running all 5."

One runner is from the U.K., one from Iceland, he said.

It's an expensive hobby to try to run as many marathons in as many states as possible, Burleson said.

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"But it does encourage people to exercise, to eat properly with good nutrition," he said. "It can't be too terrible when the top runners are all in their mid 60s and older."

Number 1 American marathoner for quantity is Jim Simpson from California.

"He hit 1,000 marathons on January 1, 2013, the first North American to do that," Burleson said. "He is 70 and he looks more like he's about 50."

Burleson said he has one concern about the marathon series.

"We have nobody from Montana," he said.

For more information on the series, see http://mainlymarathons.com/

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