It was not a logical choice, since Black Hills is not an entry level course. With a cumulative vertical gain of 16,231 feet of climb and the same amount of descent, the first words of the course description warn, “First and foremost, be aware that this course is probably harder than you think it is.”
I had three main criteria as I chose a hundred-mile race. First of all, it needed to start on a Friday. Since I am looking at a 30+ hours finish time, a Saturday start would mean I would be racing all day on Sunday, and I have made a personal commitment to God not to race on Sunday. Second, the race needed to be late enough in the year to allow enough training time for me to feel (at least somewhat) prepared, but not so late that it would interfere with my running of FlatRock 50K in September. (I am working on a 10-year streak at FlatRock in order to be knighted into the Hall of Pain, but that’s another story.) Third, the course had to be mainly single track trail. I cannot imagine running 100 miles on roads.
As I scoured the Internet and read race reviews, it became clear that there were not going to be many races which met these parameters. At first, I totally eliminated Black Hills as a choice because of its level of difficulty. But I kept being drawn back to it. Review after review described the beautiful trails, and this stirred my zeal for running wooded single-track. Running on the road is merely okay, but running through the woods is indescribably better. The gnarled tree limbs reaching skyward, the warbling birdsong, the pungent smell of evergreens—each detail of creation evokes within me a deeper reverence for God.
A desire began to grow within me to conquer this course. None of the other races sparked the passion I felt to run Black Hills. After much prayer, consideration, and discussion with my family, I chose Black Hills as my first 100—all 106 miles of it! Race date is June 24, 2016. BlackHills100.com