Thursday, March 1, 2012

Drop A Double Mick!


A Double Mick???

Don't be silly, I'm not into snowboarding.

It's a run, my own brainstorm, a self-supported, self-contained adventure fun run of the Black Hills! The George S. Mickelson Trail stretches 109 miles from Edgemont to Deadwood, South Dakota, and I'm planning to run it out and back this summer. The Double Mick will be a total of 218 miles plus a few extra miles in pit stops and towns along the way.

I've run parts of the Mickelson Trail before, during the Lean Horse 50 and 100 mile events, and I've explored some other stretches of the trail on my own. I love the Black Hills, the scenery is awesome, and it's generally not mobbed with tourists like some other places are. Except for certain times of the year, when people come from all over to motorcycle rallies, street festivals with historical themes, and special events focused on the local wildlife, like the Bat Festival.

I have this thing about running out and back, when I run through a scenic area I like to see it from different perspectives, and at different times of the day, with different lighting. There are so many things you miss if you only go one way. It's the artist in me, I want to get a feel for the area and the size of the landscape and sky. There isn't any organized run out here to do this, but I'm all about making my own adventure, so I started to plan it.

When I asked a few of my friends last fall about their interest in doing this with me, everyone either had racing plans or travel plans in June. They were interested but the timing wasn't right. June is the ideal month because of the length of the daylight hours, and my racing and other plans are later in the year. So I decided to figure out a way, if necessary, to do it solo. Ed was interested in a tour of the Black Hills, and certainly capable of 218 miles in 5 days, but wasn't sure he could get that much time off work with his other plans. But the Bat Festival proved to be too much intrigue, and just the other day I found out...

Holy Guano Batman! My running buddy and supercrewer/pacer/fashion star from last year's Badwater double, Skortman Ed, will be there, at least for part of it. But now, he's Batman Ed. At this point, Ed is still unsure of whether he can escape from work long enough to do the whole thing. We're hoping he can, but for now, he plans to do most of it. Things are looking favorable, though.

We had to scramble to get our act together this winter because of the jam-packed tourism schedule in the Black Hills all summer. We were competing with everybody from rodeo goers to cyclists to Bat Festival attendees for a limited number of rooms. It would really be a bummer to get there and have to share a room with bats. They could sleep on the ceiling, I suppose. But no worries, we got reservations, and just a few more logistical details need to be worked out.

The Caped Crusader (formerly known as Skortman) and I will start out June 15th somewhere in the Black Hills and run 218 miles or more, finishing on the 19th. We have the daily time constraint of sunup to sundown, because the Mickelson Trail regulations limit use to daylight hours only. But that's a good thing, it means we can't get too sleep-deprived. We're staying overnight wherever we can get rooms for showers and some sleep. There isn't much to choose from. For example, in Edgemont, there's only one motel. If you've ever been to Edgemont, you'd understand why. But also it happens to be the southernmost point on the Mickelson Trail.

"Watch for poison ivy and rattlesnakes on this part of the trail. It can get extremely hot in summer..." the brochure warns.

On paper, it looks like Deadwood, Custer, and Edgemont all have accomodations, grocery or convenience stores, and restaurants that will work as pit stops for us. I am a bit disappointed that we can't run on the trail at night because that is the best time, but I can always run the Lean Horse 100 again if I want to run through there at night.


Still, we'll be averaging nearly 45 miles a day on the gravel railroad grade of the Mickelson Trail. We're running as close to summer solstice as possible, so we can have maximum daylight on the trail. We're thinking it will be a bit slow, because of the Batmobile.

The Batmobile does not exist yet, except in our imaginations. We are in the process of figuring out what combination of converted baby jogger/bike trailer will be easy and portable enough for us to share the burden, to carry a supply of ice and a few minimal supplies for us from pit stop to pit stop. We have one major issue we need to address for sure: we need adjustable height handles. Why? Because I am 5'1" tall on a good day, and Ed is 6'5" (see below).

So, we're working on it. We have a few ideas. We don't need something excessive, but there are some long stretches of the trail where there is no water and it can get hot enough that we will need some ice. It can be anywhere from freezing to 105 degrees, so we'll have to be prepared for temperature fluctuations and any weather conditions. Along with mountain lions, bears, rattlesnakes, bats, poison ivy, you name it. As usual though, the freakiest wildlife encounter that ever challenges us is the human element. But what is an adventure without adventure?

One thing is for sure, it will be fun. And I do have a plan for Ed's Double Mick Batman outfit.

A little birthday shopping spree at Walmart.

5 comments:

Mike said...

Wow...218 miles. That sounds like quite a "fun run"! I look forward to reading about your adventure. I'll be running a portion of the Mickelson trail in August at Leanhorse 50 mile.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Mike, you will love the Lean Horse 50! Knowing you will be there makes me want to run the 100 mile race this year so I can meet you in person! If I survive the Double Mick, I might see you in Hot Springs in August!

HappyTrails said...

Fun, fun, fun! I've told you over and over how we love that area. I hope you will be taking lots of pics???

Alene Gone Bad said...

Kathleen, lots of pics and some video, too! And great stories. I wish you could join us! I hope you're feeling great by then!

Mike said...

Alene: That would be great! Hope to see you there.