Moral support at Mickelson Trail Marathon

More than 3,000 runners entered the 15th annual Mickelson Trail Marathon that ended in Deadwood on Sunday. Participants competed in the 13.1-mile half marathon or 26.2-mile full marathon.

A number of the runners, including Amanda Graves, shown here, received “high fives” of support from local residents about 300 meters from the finish. Pioneer photo by Jason Gross

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DEADWOOD — With more than 3,000 runners entered in Sunday’s Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon races, it was inevitable that a number of runners were here for the first time.

Benson Langat was one of the ‘new runners’ in Sunday’s field. The 27-year-old Sioux Falls resident won the overall 13.1-mile half marathon title in 1 hour 12 minutes 4 seconds.

Langat started running half marathons in 2012 while in college. He was looking to visit in the Black Hills this year and saw this race.

“I had never run a trail run before,” Langat said. “So, this is one of the races I wanted to run. I saw a lot of (online) reviews about it, so I thought I would give it a try.”

The sheer number of people stands out in Langat’s mind today. He said it took him a while to move up in the line, and the race was amazing.

“I enjoy the trees,” Langat said when asked about the Mickelson Trail course. “When I was coming down, I saw deer running around.

“It makes it so pleasing and makes you feel good when you see nature,” Langat said.

He said he plans to return here next year. Langat hoped for a time of 1 hour 10 minutes but said this is the start of his season.

Langat starts running half marathons in the summer and fall. Phase one of his training ended two weeks ago with a half marathon in Wisconsin. He belongs to the 605 Running Company in Sioux Falls.

His second training phase involves introducing himself to races, with the third phase involving more energy. The fourth phase calls for him to peak in November.

Langat said he had set goals to run a half marathon. He has not run a full marathon but plans to enter the September race in Sioux Falls.

“Every year has different goals and standards I set for myself,” Langat said. “Getting out and running is just like pushing yourself to get to the top and compete with the best.”

Now that Deadwood is done, Langat plans to enter a race in Norfolk, Neb., in two weeks. That comes before a 10-kilometer race in Omaha, Neb., set for June 25.

Langat works with youth at the Children’s Home Society. He started there two years ago and serves as the acting team coordinator.

Paula Daoust, Dan Roehler, and Jim Diego made their Mickelson Trail Marathon debuts as members of the “Half Marathon in 50 States” Club. Daoust and Roehler reside in Kansas City, Kan.

Roehler and Daoust first joined the club in 2012. They ran a distance race along Route 66, and Roehler spotted someone wearing the flourescent green shirt of the club (see top right photo).

“He (Roehler) had this great idea: why don’t we do that?” Daoust said. She added with a laugh, “I didn’t realize what I was agreeing to.”

After a few years in the club, how would Daoust describe the activity? “It is a socially acceptable addiction,” she replied.

South Dakota marks the 37th state in which Daoust has run a half marathon. Club members describe certain races and discuss characteristics like organization and medal quality.

“It was either this or Crazy Horse,” Daoust said. “We heard that the route here was prettier than Crazy Horse, so that’s how we chose (Deadwood).”

Daoust said the Mickelson Trail course is awe-inspiring, and the miles drift away.

Her favorite course portion was after mile 8, and she could see the hills up above. She said the last mile was a bit tougher because of the heat and lack of shade.

Group members plan to run in an Indiana half marathon in about two weeks. Plans call for them to reach their 50th and final state in 2019.

However, the running is but a small part of the group. “The social part of it is way, way more than a lot of people just doing the 50 states,” Roehler said. Table dinners are included.

Roehler said the course’s downhill aspects were attractive today, as were the shade and running in the trees. He has now run a half marathon in 38 states.

“Anytime I can run alongside water, that’s a plus for me,” he added. The first few miles posed the biggest challenge for Roehler because of the congestion.

As far as half marathon running, Roehler said it is a nice length of time to be out. He added two to three hours  is not enough time for a person to get “wiped out.”

Diego is doing what Roehler and Daoust are, but the New York City resident has reached 48 states.

Diego said a friend ran this course last year and talked about its beauty, so Diego decided to give it a try.

Sunday marked the 71st half marathon for Diego, who said he has not had a weekend off since March. He runs with the mindset of enjoying himself.

Diego will run in Alaska two weeks from now and visits Missoula, Mont., on July 10 to finish the 50 states.

Elizabeth Moore won the women’s portion of the half marathon race in 1 hour 25 minutes 49 seconds.

Theron Singleton emerged as the overall winner of the 26.2-mile full marathon. His clocking was 3 hours 6 minutes 35 seconds.

The women’s full marathon winner was Tara Hill. Her time was 3 hours 41 minutes 48 seconds.

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