When it was announced that 2021 would be the last year for the Mt. Rushmore Half for awhile— had to make sure I checked it off the bucket list since there wasn’t an indication how long it would be in the “vault.” This was definitely one of the hardest races I’ve completed since the first 8.5 miles were all up hill and at a much higher elevation than I am used to. Kentucky is like 600 feet above sea level or something like that so my lungs weren’t happy but nothing a small can of Boost Oxygen couldn’t fix.
Expo-both the expo and the race start were located at the Ghost Canyon Ranch— about a 20-30 minute drive from Keystone, SD so a car was recommended. Like always, the VR team had everything down to a science from bib pick-up to awesome swag for sale. By the time I arrived at the expo after exploring the area that morning, several of the merchandise options were sold out. Since it was the last year of the race there were significantly more runners compared to previous years so that accounted for sold out items.
Race-The morning of the race, so I opted to jump on one of the shuttles to the start line so I didn’t have to take a shuttle post-race back to the start line to pick up my rental car. My hotel was an easy walk at 4 am to the shuttle bus pick-up point (actually most of the hotel/motel options in Keystone are within walking distance to everything). Once I arrived at the start line, Vacation Races had coffee and hot chocolate available to enjoy as we waited for all the runners to arrive. The start ended up being delayed due to traffic on the road leading to the start line since that was part of the course. However it was a once in a lifetime experience to hear 2000+ runners since the National Anthem when the sound system stopped working— chills!
The course… 8.5 miles that goes uphill before we hit the peak and descended back down with a fun little hill at mile 11 before we headed into Keystone. Those first 8.5 miles totally makes one question some like choices (lol) but the incredible views of Mt. Rushmore, running through tunnels and on pigtail curves most definitely made up for the hill. The on-course support/aide was very much appreciated from cheering on runners to providing a quick respite during the race.
After the final little hill, we headed into Keystone towards the finish line and the main road was lined with spectators and runners who had finished already. The finish line was in front of the Lincoln Borglum Museum (which was still closed due to the pandemic). The area tourist commission had their Mt. Rushmore mascots at the finish line for photo ops. The line was a little long so I opted to walk back to my hotel instead.
Overall-whenever Vacation Races decides to bring this race back, highly recommend adding it to a running bucket list— just make sure you have allowed enough days to explore the area! There is so much to see and so from Wind Cave National Park and Crazy Horse Memorial to Devil’s Tower and Deadwood.