A fall marathon is coming back to the Black Hills.
Jerry Dunn, who currently oversees two successful marathons with the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon and the Lean Horse Ultra, is teaming up with race director Emily Wheeler to put on the Run Crazy Horse marathon beginning in the fall of 2010.
The marathon and a half marathon are set for Oct. 3, 2010, and will take runners from the Crazy Horse Memorial through downtown Hill City and a loop on the Mickelson Trail. It will be a certified race that will be a Boston Marathon qualifier and comes a week after the Buffalo Roundup in Custer.
This is a new marathon and is not replacing the Mount Rushmore-Crazy Horse Marathon. That marathon had been the running event during the fall in the Black Hills for more than 30 years. However, the 2009 event was cancelled due to financial issues, and its status for future years is unknown at this time.
“We were asked by the entities that were involved in the other event to create something new, but we are not replacing it. This is completely new,” Dunn said. “They like having the event and we have gone through all of the meetings with Crazy Horse, Hill City, the Department of Transportation, Game Fish & Park and Palmer Gulch Resort. We have the permits we need and now we are just working on developing a logo and a Web site.”
The route for the marathon has been set. Runners will start at the Crazy Horse Visitor Center and head to downtown Hill City, where the half-marathon will be completed. Full-marathon runners will continue on to Museum Drive and Major Lake Road before getting back on the Mickelson Trail and looping back to finish in Hill City.
“Our route keeps runners off major roads, which was an issue before, and it will be a fast marathon because a lot of it is downhill,” Dunn said.
From Dunn’s perspective this gives him a nice bookend to be able to showcase the Mickelson Trail and the Black Hills to runners with a spring marathon and now a fall one as well.
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“Both of us feel the Black Hills needs a fall marathon, and the Hill City area is one of the most beautiful areas in the Hills during that time,” said Wheeler, who has worked with Dunn through the Deadwood-Mickelson Marathon. “We have been working on this since mid-October and we have all the permits secured and have met with the public officials.”
This marathon is expected to help showcase the Hill City area.
“Our focus is to bring people to Hill City and Crazy Horse, and have a larger economic impact on that community,” Dunn said. “All of the activities and the pasta meal will be in Hill City.”
Dunn said he wants the event to incorporate Native American culture and to that end there will be a drum ceremony as the gun for the start of the event and pow wow dancing in Hill City.
Wheeler said that reception to the new marathon has been positive so far as she has already been able to line up three sponsors.
Wheeler and Dunn are planning for about 500 runners the first year, and hoping for somewhere around 800 the next. They are expecting to have a press release announcing the event and will start taking registrations by Jan. 15, but are taking it slow for the inaugural run and will ramp things up in the following years.
“We will have a two-day health and fitness expo before the race where runners can pick up their race packets and view race gear and other things from vendors,” Wheeler said. “In future years, we will add things like a kids’ race.”