7 days of highlights in one post….doable? Nah! Let’s just call this post Part 1 (Arrival into South Dakota, Sight Seeing and Day 1 race in North Dakota.)

Let’s start with a quick refresh for anyone who doesn’t know what the Center of the Nation Series is.

Mainly Marathons caters to runners and walkers looking to complete a marathon (or half marathon) in each of the 50 U.S. states by creating multi-day series’ of races throughout the country. The one I particiapted in this past week was called the Center of the Nation Series. It consisted of a marathon (or half marathon) for 5 consecutive days starting with North Dakota on Monday, South Dakota on Tuesday, Wyoming on Wednesday, Montana on Thursday and Nebraska on Friday.

I ran all 5 half marathons while my friends Roger, Lisa, Elvia and Mike ran the FULL marathons all 5 days.
None of us had run that many back to back events before.

Cast of characters:

5 friends

5 friends

We all arrived in Rapid City South Dakota by lunchtime on Saturday and got into our rental car to head to Mt. Rushmore for a little sight-seeing before reaching our final destination which was this AMAZING cabin in Whitewood, South Dakota (about 30 min from the airport) that Roger found.

Running on the ledge

Running on the ledge


5 days of running coming right up!

our home away from home

our home away from home

We took a “family” trip to Walmart to buy some food and other needs for the cabin. We also used the parking lot as our mobile office since we all had cell reception there. Our cabin’s only drawback was it’s lack of phone and data service. I’d get the random text through and if you sat on the toilet bowl and pointed your phone toward the window you’d get enough service to upload a pic to Facebook. I think that was a true eye-opener for me to realize I DO have an addiction to being “connected”.

Sunday was our one and only day to sleep in. We got up leisurely and had breakfast. Then we packed overnight bags and piled in the Suburban to head a few hours north to Bowman, North Dakota for our packet pickup. We made a few pitstops along the way to get a picture at the state line between North and South Dakota, and to add a bit of team spirit to our van with some nifty paint crayons.


adding a little spirit to our ride


Welcome to North Dakota!

We drove through Buffalo North Dakota that has a population of less than 200! And then we got to Bowman….a “big” town of 2000 people.


We headed to packet pick-up and buffet dinner and then back to the motel we had for the night to get some shut-eye.

picked up our bibs, shirts and top portion of our medal

picked up our bibs (oops it’s in the envelope), shirts and top portion of our medal

Monday morning we were off to run our first of 5 at a campground area near the Bowman Haley Dam.

cold and windy but we're ready to go!

cold and windy but we’re ready to go!

The course was an out and back of just over 2 miles (full marathons did this 12 times and half marathoners did this 6 times) mostly a packed gravel surface with a little loose gravel at the turnaround. It was EXTREMELY windy with gusts that were easily 30 mph. And there was one hill on the back part which of course had to be going INTO the wind making it a very challenging section of the course. On the other hand going out and down the hill was super speedy. I personally ran strong and knew that i’d have to conquer that hill 6 times so i pushed hard everywhere else and then slowly trotted and even walked at times up the hill. There are so many pros about an out and back repeated course. We had our cooler and knapsacks at the start and were able to shed layers, get more water or fuel etc every couple of miles. Also at this spot is where you get a rubber band for each lap completed so you could track how many laps you had left. There was also the most AMAZING aid stop I’ve ever seen. They had water, gatorade, sandwiches, cookies, chips, olives, first aid items, sunscreen and so much more. Let’s just say by day 5 I started experimenting with Reese’s peanut butter cups as fuel. SCORE! I finished in 2:16.

North Dakota: CHECK!

North Dakota: CHECK!

It was actually one of my top 3 fastest half times. Had there been no wind I might have even finished a bit faster. Out of 59 people I was 8th overall and 5th female. THAT NEVER HAPPENS! But since this event really is heavily run by the full marathoners and overall most runners were about quantity of races vs speediness I got a chance to feel like a rockstar. (that was quickly over with by the time we got to day 2 as I got slower. HA)

My full marathon superheros finished strong and managed to get up that hill in the wind an additional 6 times more than me hence making them superheros. Lisa decided to throw me a Japanese Animé pose just before crossing the finish line.

North Dakota 26.2 Done!

North Dakota 26.2 Done!

We piled in the car and headed back down to our cabin in South Dakota where we showered and relaxed, soaking our feet in the hot tub.



Then it was off to bed by 8pm so we’d be ready for our 4:30am wake up call to get ready for day 2…to be continued

Question: Ever run back to back marathons? What’s your wildest running story? Ever been to the Dakotas?

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