In our ongoing effort to provide the best running experience possible, we’ve decided to make a couple of changes to the 100M course. We realize that it’s kind of late in the game to be switching things up, but after no small amount of deliberation we felt that these changes would make the event better and therefore should be implemented immediately rather than sitting on them until next year. Given that both changes are relatively minor in the grand scope of things, we think the benefits far outweigh the negatives (the biggest negative being making changes so close to race day).
We’ll start with the first, and bigger, change. As many of you know, the original course started and finished in Sturgis with the turnaround for 100 milers at the Rapid Creek trailhead. This route followed the Centennial trail almost exclusively, other than a short stretch on the Sturgis city bike path at the beginning/end. We have decided to modify the southernmost section of the course by moving the turnaround point to the historic mining town of Silver City. As a result, the course will leave the Centennial trail approximately 4 miles south of the Pilot Knob aid station and turn west onto the Deerfield trail (#40). From its intersection with the Centennial, the Deerfield trail travels up a relatively short hill before a long descent into Silver City where the turnaround will be located at the volunteer fire department. The Silver City VFD has graciously agreed to open their facilities to us and to provide volunteers to staff the aid station. This location is easily accessible to crews and provides us and the runners with full facilities (water, bathrooms, a heated building, medical supplies, phone service, etc.). After making the turnaround, you’ll head back up and over the hill via the Deerfield trail and then back onto the Centennial heading north toward Pilot Knob, just as before. The overall mileage traveled on the Deerfield trail is about 3.5 miles. This means the southernmost stretch from the Pilot Knob aid station to Silver City is approximately 7.5 miles.
In addition to the facilities described above, this modification has one other benefit. Several reports from runners last year, along with additional mapping efforts by us this winter/spring, placed the original course mileage from Sturgis to the Rapid Creek TH and back at around 102-104 miles (officially listed as 102.4 on the website leading up to this year’s event). Normally, a few miles isn’t that big of a deal, but a lot of stuff that isn’t a big deal under normal circumstances becomes a HUGE deal when you’re running 100 miles. And those extra miles can make a significant difference when you’re traveling at 15-20+ minute miles late in the race and striving for that sub-24 goal or ultimate 32 hour cutoff. Based on mapping efforts by our friends in the local mountain biking community (folks with much more mapping expertise than us), the turnaround at Silver City is almost exactly 50 miles from Woodle Field, bringing the overall course mileage to a “true” 100 miles, or as close as we are ever likely to get.
The second change is relatively minor in scope, but we mention it in case you’ve been intently studying the original course maps and suddenly notice a slight difference. The original course had an aid station at the Boxelder Creek trailhead, adjacent to the town of Nemo. This year, that aid station will be moved to the Nemo Guest Ranch and the course rerouted slightly so that it goes through Nemo rather than skirting around it. Consequently, you’ll actually leave the Centennial trail for a short stretch. You will still run through the Boxelder Creek trailhead, as that’s where you’ll rejoin the Centennial after your detour through Nemo, there just won’t be an aid station there. As with Silver City, the guest ranch provides us a heated facility with water, power and phones and is easily accessible to crews. This change has been incorporated into the overall course mileage discussed above.
Like we said before, the only real negative we could think of with these changes is how long it took us to realize that these options were staring us right in the face. Updates to the aid station list, maps, course profile, crew driving directions and the course description on the website have been made and we’ll be inundating the social media networks and our mailing lists with the information to be sure everyone who is registered gets the word as soon as possible. And, of course, we’ll have a full description of the course available at packet pickup and will discuss the changes at the pre-race meeting.
We truly believe that this change will make the event better in the long run (no pun intended). If we had any doubts, we wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on it. Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to seeing everyone in Sturgis!