Welcome to Part 2 of my recap of the Center of the Nation Series. Of course if you’ve missed part 1 just go here.

So we’ve covered off on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and the first of 5 marathon/half marathons which was in North Dakota. Tuesday we ran a course in the geographical center of the nation: Belle Fourche, South Dakota.

Center of the Nation Belle Fourche South Dakota

Center of the Nation Belle Fourche South Dakota. Photo courtesy of Lisa

Before I go on about the race itself I wanted to tell you about a really cool connection that happened partly because of this video and this video and partly because of Belle Fourche being the location. A local resident of Belle Fourche, Tim was getting back into running after some time away from the sport. He saw a few of the Dicks Sporting Goods “Run For” videos (that Lisa, Roger and I had been a part of) and even shared them with friends and family after being inspired. Shortly after, while looking for races on Active.com he noticed 3 in a row that had Belle Fourche listed as the location. It intrigued him and so he emailed the race director Clint. Next thing you know, he came on board to help scout out some courses for the middle 3 events of the series and also participate in the half marathon on Tuesday (and volunteer on Wednesday and Thursday). On Facebook we had a special group for participants of the series and Tim spotted Roger’s name in the group first. Well, after some conversations we finally got to meet Tim just as soon as we landed at the airport. Tim is a pilot and was actually on Roger’s plane coming in.


Roger, Lisa, Tim, Sally and Elvia. Photo courtesy of Tim

Never did I personally think that the video I was part of would reach and inspire so many. I was actually just excited to share my story of how I got into running. But meeting Tim, who says he felt like he was meeting celebrities, made me realize that those videos were pretty darn impactful and successful! (you can also check out this other video of Roger that is pretty darn amazing too.) And what a total pleasure it was to meet Tim. Nothing better than to meet super nice people all over the country who share similar interests.

Ok, on to the course. The course was situated right at the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce center. It was mostly narrow concrete sidewalk with one stretch along a paved street that was also an out and back course with the full marathoners doing 12 laps and half marathoners doing 6. (the only difference was that the start was sort of in the middle so you went to the right and back to center and then to the left and back to center.


It’s Marathon Man


the bulk of the course was just like this. (more on the handcyclist in my next post!)

I really loved this course. This is where the realization came that the week would feel way more like a family get together than a week of races. (I think on day 1 I was still anxious about how I would really be able to run 5 straight double digit runs and I wasn’t as chatty.) There were runners and walkers of all ages (i think even in their 70s!) and paces which, combined with the course lap repeats left ample opportunity to smile and cheer for others. The biggest cheerleader was a marathoner named Alicia. She didn’t miss a beat, with our names written on our bibs, she was right there chanting “way to go Sally!” I’d nod and give her a thumbs up or sometimes just blurt out “ditto”. I’m terribly awkward and can’t get sensible sentences out when i’m running =)

Most often when I travel with my friends and they are signed up for the full while I run the half we basically say goodbye at the start and I see them later on after they’ve finished so I was really excited to see them every couple of miles. I was so impressed with not just the volunteers and organizers of the event, but the participants too. Everyone seemed to lend a hand picking up trash. Some half marathoners turned into cheerleaders or aid station volunteers when they finished their running. I found myself being the “paparazzi” and taking lots of pictures. I finished the half in 2:29 but have to say I really took it easy and was quite relaxed compared to Monday where I pushed hard. And by the end of this day I officially had conquered something new….back to back half marathons.


Half Marathon Finishers! Photo courtesy of Tim

Half Marathon Finishers! Photo courtesy of Tim

On this particular course it was almost 90 degrees by the time my friend Lisa was about 22 miles in and she was trying hard to stay cool. Even pouring cold water on her running tights. (someday i’ll post about how I think marathons are THREE times harder than half marathons but temperatures can really cause those last 10 miles of a marathon to be extremely difficult. It was about 20 degrees cooler when I finished my half.) Mike immediately went over to Lisa and started to walk along with her and then called me over. We walked for a while together and I think that helped distract Lisa from the heat. It felt like our training runs where we’d chit chat. And I discovered that I hadn’t really experienced Lisa in the final few miles of a marathon. She was funny! Reminded me of a happy drunk! It might have been dehydration and sun stroke but I noticed it for the remaining days as well. Roger is a numbers guy. With this event being 5 marathons in 5 days in 5 states he thought it’d be cool to finish each day in 5 hours. And so after finishing Monday technically in less than 5 he waited a few minutes before crossing the finish line to get an official time of 5 hours. And so Tuesday, he did the same. Elvia was really enjoying her time on the course. She was like the mayor, just striking up conversation left and right.

ironic that the 4 full marathoners matched?!

Just before the start. Ironic that the 4 full marathoners matched?!

Once we were all finished we piled into the car, made another quick trip to Walmart for a few more groceries and I also picked up a pair of blue running capris for the following day’s run. (Yep, I broke a cardinal rule of wearing something new on race day. I’m a rebel! More on the reason I needed blue pants in the first place in my next post!)

We then headed back to our lovely cabin and I cooked dinner for everyone. This is actually quite funny as I’m not a big cook. And the meal was a hit! I think that right there is a huge PR!


That’s potato, egg and cheese that I’m whipping up. A great pre-race meal. Photo courtesy of Lisa

family dinner

Family dinner! Photo courtesy of Lisa

Another successful day! Another run was done! And off to bed we went because we had another 4am wake up call to get ready for our Hump Day run in Wyoming…..to be continued.