• Mon June 14 2004
  • Posted Jun 14, 2004

[ editor note: For those of you who know Steve Cannon aka 'Canjo', you know he's gotten more into endurance events these past few years including several adventure races and marathons. Steve lives and works in Des Moines. This is cool that a South Dakota paper picked up a bit of his story - Although I'm sure there is much more to his story that the one sentence below... Pat him on the back ask him about all the adventures leading up to RAGBRAI. He's got a few more "training mikes" than most of us! KUDOS CANJO !
Well, it's all over but the shouting, as my mother used to say, the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon was officially over when the last participant crossed the finish line in front of the Bullock at precisely 3:32:07 Sunday afternoon; some eight and a half hours after the gun went off at 7:00 Sunday morning in the charming hamlet of Rochford. (The course was to close at 2:00 as advertised, but was kept intact for those individuals who were still out there and determined to finish the race.) So, yes, it was over; at least as far as walkers/runners were concerned, but not for 'striking the set' as it were. It was a study in contrasts, a gamut of emotions, and a microcosm of life. Persons competing ranged from the head of the math department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, to the Special Olympics star from Plattsmouth, Nebraska. From the speedsters at the front of the pack to the tenacious finishers who fought heat and distance for 6, 7, 8 hours. As runners streamed down the broad brick street of historic downtown Deadwood in blistering 98 degree sunshine to the roaring crescendo of cheers and applause, the casinos lining the street hummed with the quiet noise of cooling central air and the steady clang of gaming machines; the permeating odor of cigarette smoke in sharp contrast to pungent sweat a window pane away. Outside, the cheering was non-stop for most of those 8 hours. The DJ called out the names of runners as they neared the finish line, where twin granddaughters of the medallion artist shyly draped the alabaster orb around each athlete's neck. There were tears, laughter, hugs; small children running out to meet a parent finishing, and the ever consistent; cross-the-line-hit-the-stop-watch routine by the seasoned runners. The devil is in the details, they say, and 5,000 details add up to an impression. The Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon did make an impression. Details like a personal message to every participant from the race director, and bibs with each runner's name in big, bold letters. Like a jazz ensemble accompanied fish fry at scenic Rochford on Friday night, Chef Tom's incomparable pasta on Saturday night, a VIP breakfast at the finish line complete with catered food from Deadwood Thymes and piano music by virtuoso Max Meyer, and a special breakfast on the verandah of the Historic Franklin Hotel over-looking the course. Trask and Lytle hand crafted star quilts for the overall winners, Billy Mills to present them, Jeff Galloway to assist with awards and to share his expertise in the run/walk method of marathoning, and Jonathan Beverly, editor of Running Times, with Six Tips to a Successful Marathon. As always, it's the people who make it happen. Volunteers are the backbone of any event, and South Dakota volunteers are the greatest. Over 200 dedicated Dakotans enhanced the beauty of the area by the warmth of its people. Aid stations, crossing guards, finish line food, starting line people, finish line people, medical personal, bike supervision on the trail, expo workers, registration workers, clean-up crew, assembly crew, mile marker placement, corral sign placement, the all important Porta Potti dissemination, and the unflappable timing team. And the spectators! At one point I saw a small group gazing in awe at the vivid blue Dakota sky. Quietly I breached their meditative state..."It's beautiful, isn't it?" "Shhhh! We're watching a bird feed her baby!" Sure enough, in the cornice of one of the regal old buildings was a mother bird, oblivious to the controlled chaos below, going about her instinctive duty. The transfixed New Yorkers reminded me of the peace and tranquillity we take for granted. And so many stories. As one of the buses unloaded at the half start, a gentleman suddenly realized he was at the wrong place with only ten minutes before gun time. In panic mode he told one of the volunteers his dilemma. Luckily it was our middle school athletic director! Used to incisive thinking and quick decisions, she commandeered her colleague/brother-in-law, and said, "You have the wheels, Neal, drive south 'till you see a lot of people!" As the two men raced to the marathon 13.1 miles away, they were stopped at a road block. "Sorry sir, marathon coming through, you can't drive here!" ordered the young road guard. The desperate harrier pleaded, "I know! I know! I'm in it! This is the sheriff and he's escorting me to the start!" Down came the barricade, away went the runner. (Isn't it fortunate that Neal had picked up a cowboy hat and fake badge at Wall Drug????) They made it; the luck of a runner. The Spearfish group who diligently followed my training regimen and Tracey's draconian time schedule, all flew in at least 10 minutes before expected, within seconds of each other. As they rounded the corner by Wells Fargo Bank and began the sprint to the finish, it was a picture worthy the front page of a runner's calendar. Commitment manifest. Jose Nebrida, the man carrying the flag, resplendent in silver shimmer wig, stars and stripes running gear, and a non-stop smile. Edith Weber, 73 year old Senior Olympic force, finishing strong.
Steve Cannon-cycled all the way from Des Moines, Iowa, ran the marathon, hopped on his bike to Ride the Rockies, do the Ragbrai, then peddle on back to Des Moines.
Governor Mickelson's granddaughter, Amy Mickelson, honoring the trail with her grandfather's metaphorical presence, dedicated the trail with her effort and talent. The incomparable visual of 25 buses queued from First Gold all the way up and around the curve leading up Deadwood Hill. Did they gamble? Did they do the tourist thing? Well, they came with families. Many came early and stayed late to see the scenic hills, the majestic monuments... Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devil's Tower, Bear Butte, and the Bad Lands. They ate in our fine restaurants, they wondered at our glorious hills and prairies, they slept in our comfortable motel/hotels, and they took back with them not just the marathon hardware, but the ambiance of a people at home with nature and with the right to relax. One has to wonder at the ghosts of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill, what would they think of the parade of humans dashing into their town? Or Sheriff Seth Bullock, how would he view the hoards who hung out in front his Hotel all day? Did the spirits of Deadwood smile on the endeavors of those who chose to pit themselves against the time, trail, and distance? I think yes. I think they enjoyed the energy of so many people coming together with a singleness of intent. It had to bring back the old Deadwood; "We can do it, we can do it, we can do it." And we did it. Thanks all.... Source:

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