Course Info

About the George S. Mickelson Trail

The Mickelson Trail offers over 100 miles of South Dakota’s Hall of Fame rails-to-trails project. The Mickelson Trail was originally the Burlington Northern rail line that took trains from Edgemont, SD to the northern Black Hills and the gold mines of the Deadwood area. The trail transverses the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. The surface is primarily crushed limestone and gravel, so you will have a consistent running surface throughout the event.  The trail is routinely groomed and maintained through out the year by a very dedicated staff who work for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. With the Mickelson Trail being a former railroad bed, the climbs along the course are gentle but can last for a few miles. For more detailed information regarding the Geoge S. Mickelson Trail please click here, Trail Info, to see a detailed description of every mile of the trail.

All of the events will begin at the Custer High School Track and Field complex located behind Custer Regional Hospital. Driving directions to the track from the center of Custer are as following:

  • Head North on N. 5th Street 0.25 of a mile until you come to Montgomery Street, the Custer Elementary School is located on the Northeast side of the intersection.
  • Turn East onto Montgomery Street and travel 0.40 of a mile to N. 10th Street, Custer Regional Hospital is located on the Northeast side of the intersection.
  • Turn North onto N. 10th Street and travel 0.15 of a mile to Grunewaldt Drive, you will see the track complex in front of you. Please park in the parking lot located to the West of the track complex.

The new course has been simplified tremendously for everyone participating (runners and crews). Crews will have more opportunities to aid and cheer on their runners on the trail while taking in the breath taking views of the Black Hills.

Runners will begin and end on the track at the West end of the stadium.  At the start you will complete 3/4 of a lap on the track and then exit the track on the back stretch through a gate.  After exiting the track you will turn left into the parking lot running 0.06 of a mile to a path that leads to the Mickelson Trail.

Once on the Mickelson Trail you will head North along the trail. There is a short section of pavement on the trail leaving Custer. (You will be traveling along the marathon and 1/2 marathon courses for one of our sister races named the Run Crazy Horse Marathon, that takes place on the first Sunday in October).

You will have a steady climb until you reach the Mountain Aid Station. In this section you will be away from everything, running through one of my favorite sections of the trail. It is a beautiful mountain valley that you will climb. At the Mountain Aid Station there is a restroom.

After you leave the Mountain Aid Station the climb flattens out, but continues until you reach the entry of Crazy Horse Monument. There is about a 1.5 mile section of the course where you will have a great view of the Crazy Horse Monument on your right. After passing through a tunnel under the entry for the monument, you will have a gradual descent to Hill City. You will then reach the Orville Aid Station. This aid station is the first Drop Bag location.

You will continue the descent to Hill City. Once you reach Hill City, you will again run on a stretch of pavement through town, the trail turns onto a sidewalk.  We use the  trailhead as the Hill City Aid Station as the 30M turn around point. It is located one block off of the trail. This aid station has a restroom with running water.

Once you leave the Hill City Aid Station you will follow the trail along the 1880 Train Station for about 0.60 miles where you will have to cross Highway 16/385.  This is a busy intersection. We will have volunteers located there to help you cross the intersection safely during the day time. You will return to the gravel trail at this point and begin to climb again on your way to the High Country Aid Station. The High Country Aid Station is located just outside out the High Country Guest Ranch.

You will continue the climb leaving High Country Aid Station but it will flatten out about halfway to Horse Creek Aid Station. You will be leaving the view of highways as the trail meanders through a mountain valley were you will begin to see more mountain streams and ponds, which all help to keep the air temperature cooler. At the Horse Creek Aid Station we will have a Port-a-Pot. This will be the second Drop Bag location. All 50 Mile runners will progress through the aid station for 0.10 of a mile to the 50 Mile Turn Around then begin your return trip to Custer.

Now you will be running in my favorite part of the course. The trail will head down hill until you reach the Mystic Aid Station. You will travel through two former railroad tunnels, pass by several old mining camps/sights and see the true beauty of the Black Hills. The Mystic Aid Station does have a restroom and again is a trailhead.

Leaving Mystic Aid Station you will follow Castle Creek for several miles. The trail will stay flat to slightly up, but again the beauty of the area will help to take your focus off of the trail. You will travel through the third tunnel on your journey and will see several small waterfalls in Castle Creek along the trail as you approach the Gimlet Aid Station. This aid station is located at the intersection of Mystic Road and Rochford Road.

The gradual climb will continue to the Rochford Aid Station. The trail will follow near Rochford Road for most of this section and will cross several roads, so please be careful for crossing traffic. The aid station will be located at the trailhead just before the town of Rochford. You will need to turn off of the trail to enter the aid station. (Signs will be posted). There is a restroom at this aid station and it’s the third Drop Bag Location. (At this point, you will again be on a section of a sister race course, the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon. The sister marathon starts in the town of Rochford and then finishes in Deadwood. The marathon takes place on the first Sunday in June.)

Following the next section of the course you will again leave the road side and work your way along a mountain valley with Rapid Creek running along the trail. And yes, the course still has a gentle climb through this section. You will pass through the last tunnel on the course in the middle of this section. There is a restroom located in this section at the Montana Mine sight (an information sign marks the location). The restroom is set just East of the trail near the dam. At this point the valley opens up on your approach to the Nahant Aid Station.

The course will again follow the highway through the open valley to the DMTM Exchange Aid Station. The trail still climbs at this point, reaching the highest point of the course just short of the aid station. We will have a Port-A-Pot there along with the fourth Drop Bag location. The Turn Around for the 100 Mile course is located 0.70 of a mile past the DMTM Exchange Aid Station.

You are now on your way back to Custer. We hope that you enjoy the return trip to the finish.

We will follow the same course and instructions as provided above.

Lean Horse 100 Relay Information

The Lean Horse 100 wants to bring you into the sport of ultra running with the support of friends and family in “bite size” chunks of running.  We are offering runners the option to participate in relay teams of 5 people.

Imagine you and a group of your closest friends (or newest friends) running through the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota on the George Mickelson Trail. Traveling through the scenic Black Hills in a van with 4 other people, running on one of the most scenic trails around and developing memories and stories that you will share for a life-time. Then we have no doubt that this will be an experience you’ll never forget.

5 Person Team

Most of the teams in the race will be in this category. It is the most doable and definitely the most fun. If you have completed a half marathon, than you will be more than ready to handling the legs in the 5 person relay. Each member of the team will run 4 legs of varying lengths (see Relay Legs Chart below). As one person is running, the others will leap frog to the next aid station, where they will be ready to cheer you in. You will make your relay exchanges at each of the aid stations along the the course. The legs will very from 3.6 miles to 7.3 miles.  With the shortest relay spot being 17.2 miles with the longest relay spot being 21.3 miles. Get your five person team together today and Register.


Length Of Leg For Each Relay Member

Runner 1     Runner 2     Runner 3    Runner 4      Runner 5

Leg 1 –   4.4    Leg 2 –  5.7 Leg 3  – 5.0    Leg 4  –  4.8 Leg 5  –  4.8

Leg 6 –   4.8 Leg 7 –  4.2    Leg 8  – 3.6    Leg 9  –  6.1    Leg 10 – 5.9

Leg 11 – 7.3    Leg 12 – 6.1   Leg 13 – 3.6    Leg 14 – 4.2    Leg 15 – 4.8

Leg 16 – 4.8    Leg 17 – 4.8   Leg 18 – 5.0    Leg 19 – 5.7    Leg 20 – 4.4

Total –  21.3            20.8              17.2            20.8            19.9

Team Captains & Race Registration

Each team will assign a team captain. It is up to the captain to register the entire team for the event and provide all of the appropriate information. All e-mail correspondence for the race will be through the captain, and it is his/her responsibility to keep their teammates up to date. If a team needs to make a change to the team it is up to the captain to do so. This includes, but is not limited to replacing teammates. Visit the registration page for more information.

Relay Awards

All relay team members will receive a finisher’s medal upon finish of the event.  Each team member of the winning team categories will receive a trophy (as a note 2 and 5 Person Relays are considered different events, so they will have separate awards).  The categories are as following:

5 Person Relay

-First Place Male Team
-First Place Female Team
-First Place Co-ed (5 Person Relay can be made of any combination of male/female participants as long as there is a least one male or female on each team)

Turn Around Points

Turn around points will be marked with signs on both sides of the trail for all of the events. Here is information for all of the turnaround points:

  • 100 Mile will be located 0.70 miles past the DMTM Exchange Aid Station.
  • 50 Mile will be located 0.10 miles past the Horse Creek Aid Station.
  • 30 Mile will turn around at the Hill City Aid Station.
  • 20 Mile  will turn around at Orville Aid Station

Course Restroom Facilities

All 10 aid stations will have restrooms

  • Mountain Aid Station – Out House Facility
  • Orville- Port-A-Pot
  • Hill City Aid Station – Modern Bathroom Facility with Running Water
  • High Mountain- Port-A-Pot
  • Horse Creek Aid Station – Port-A-Pot
  • Mystic Aid Station – Out House Facility
  • Gimlet Aid Station – Port-A-Pot
  • Rochford Aid Station – Out House Facility
  • Nahant – Port-A-Pot
  • DMTM Exchange Aid Station – Port-A-Pot

Course Elevation

  • 100 Mile Start: 5,359 ft. Max: 6,262 ft. Total Climb: 5,887 ft.
  • 50 Mile Start: 5,359 ft. Max: 5,874 ft. Total Climb: 2,659 ft.
  • 30 Mile Start: 5,359 ft. Max: 5,874 ft. Total Climb: 1,700 ft.
  • 20 Mile Start: Start: 5,359 ft. Max: 5,874 ft. Total Climb: 908 ft.