2015 Racing Season: Bark Beetle Trail Race-10K, June 13, 2015, Custer State Park, SD

Saturday, June 13, 2015 was the first day I spent in Custer, SD where I really wished I could have slept in longer.  The day before I had hiked/run Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota, from the northern, harder approach.  I was physically pretty spent.  In total since June 4, I had hiked Harney three times in eight days, run/hiked Hell Canyon and injured myself, raced the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon Fast 5K, and run a couple of times on the logging roads outside of Custer.

Originally I was also suppose to race the Dino Trail Run as well in Rapid City, SD on June 4, but it was cancelled due to the heavy amount of rain the trails had absorbed in recent weeks before the day of the race.  These rains also affected the Bark Beetle Trail Race 10K/5K I would race on June 13, and I knew that going into it.  Instead of being a trail race with about six stream crossings, it would be a mostly paved trail race with only a little bit of trail.  The river in Custer State Park was gushing strong and speedily as anyone could tell driving through the park.  This made crossing it, as the Race Director told me, very hard. She and her son had tried the weekend before the race and fell and got very wet.  In addition some of the trails were submerged. To be safe, the race had to be rerouted.  As I said, I knew this, and knowing it would be more of a road race than a trail race, I had elected to climb Harney Peak, with a gain of over 2000+ft the day before the race as prep for the upcoming Bangtail Divide 38K in Montana I would be racing on July 4.  However, I was now going to race on very tired legs.




This picture and the two above it are from the original flooded course.  The RD's son stands in the middle of the trail in this picture.

Some of the racers along the Bark Beetle Trail Race.
(Ignore the date stamp, it's not correct!)
This race was an old school, simple trail race.  The race director and her crew set up and checked people in, but there were no bibs.  We were told we would simply get a popsicle stick with our place on it.  Simple and efficient.  The 10K racers were identified from the 5K racers by having a small swatch of black cloth pinned to their shirt.  (I think some of us weren't sure if we were racing or mourning someone after we pinned these onto our kit.)  Again, simple and efficient.  The 10K and 5K course ran together the first half and then the 10K continued on past the finish line to make a figure 8 with the finish line as the mid-point.  

The first half of the first loop of the figure 8 had most of the elevation gain and included running along a paved trail and over a nicely crafted wooden bridge.  My legs were exhausted as soon as we began the race.  I resorted to walking most of the inclines and running the flats and downhills the best I could.  After we turned around and started coming back downhill towards the finish line for the 5K and our halfway point, I started walking even more frequently, especially in the second half of the race.  This was now mostly survival and seeing if I could get the 10K in under one hour.

As I came around the final turn and ran down the paved path towards the finish line, I crossed around 57 or 58 something for just over 6 miles. (My Garmin said 58:34 but race results had me as 55:56 and 14th out of 29 finishers for the 10K.)

A volunteer points out the course mown into the grass towards the end of the Bark Beetle 10K on June 13, 2015 in Custer State Park, SD.
There were plenty of snacks afterwards and we each received a hand-crafted wooden finisher's medal.  The overall winners received hand-crafted wooden trophies. All in all it was a simple and good run despite my exhausted body.


The trophies for the winners!  Our woden medals were smaller but with a similiar stamp.
The finish lne for both the 5K & 10K.  The RD, Connie, is in the middle with the race jersey and sunglasses.

A tranquil setting for start and finish of the Bark Beetle 10K & 5K races in Custer State Park, SD.

(The proceeds from this race benefitted kids with scholarships for the local YMCA which has a great impact in the Custer, SD area.  Thanks to the Race Director Connie Tye for the photos used in the updated version of this blog post.)