My BEST Runs Fastest Marathon (women)
Leading Ladies Marathon

Sunday August 18th, 2024
Spearfish, South Dakota
Distance: Marathon · Half Marathon
Offical Race Web Site

An all-woman marathon! A gentle down-hill journey through beautiful Spearfish Canyon from Lead to Spearfish...scenic, serene, spectacular. Savor the relaxed pace of a Dakota day, and the inimitable western hospitality of the mystical Black Hills. Very fast; Boston Qualifier.

Come run where Dunbar danced with his wolf, where the past comes alive in historic Deadwood and legendary Lead. This is the fastest marathon course in South Dakota!

One in four women qualified for Boston; women from all ages, shapes and forms running together in a giant girl party of fitness and fun.

USATF Certification Updated

- Leading Ladies Marathon USATF Certificate SD16002BK. Effective July 25, 2016 - December 31, 2026. Leading Ladies Half Marathon USATF CertificateSD16003BK. Boston Qualifier.

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Bob Anderson
This looks like a good marathon and women only. Wanting to qualify for Boston? The race director told us that 25% of the field last year made the standard. Wow, impressive!
Leading Ladies Marathon, Race Date: 2023-08-20, Distance: Marathon
Division Time Name Age Home
Male 2:37:31 Blake Davis 23 Lamar, CO
2nd Male 2:38:55 Jacob Vander Plaats 24 Sioux Center, IA
3rd Male 2:39:06 Paul Wells 29 Rapid City, SD
4th Male 2:47:42 Martin Wennblom 44 Plano, TX
Female 2:55:42 Cait Savey 23 Yanktown, SD
2nd Female 2:56:39 Stephanie Nielsen 39 Niwot, CO
3rd Female 3:06:29 Keena Byrd-Moro 38 Spearfish, SD
4th Female 3:09:31 Melissa Bittick 35 Seabrook, TX
Division Time Name Age Home
Leading Ladies Marathon


Picture this; a perfect place, a perfect pace, a perfect race, and women in charge. Knowing a marathon is about speed, and that this is going to be a fast run, I still encourage taking time to look around and savor the scenic serenity... It’s a spiritual journey for me; that’s why I wanted to share it.

Okay, on your marks. As you leave the Lead Country Club and spill out onto Hanna Road, Cyclone Hill winds up (yes, up, sorry) long enough for you to get your heart rate up and your toes back down…then peaks to a glorious long down-hill that’s tempting to race; be aware.

Drift into comfortable rolling hills sentineled by moss draped spruce, some marsh grass areas, and story-book cabins tucked into the hills. At 4 miles a “Thomas Kincaid” manse hosts a garden grotto of Mary, reminder of another powerful woman. Meander past the Hanna Campground, check out the deer grazing in the sudden meadows, and watch for fish leaping in the seldom ponds along the road. You may even see an early fisherman casting in the predawn quiet.

Arriving at the intersection of Hanna Road and Hwy 85 in 5.5 spectacular miles; look both ways, cross over by Wickiup Village, and run .1 on Hwy 85 to Cheyenne Crossing, site of the Cheyenne to Deadwood stage route. A smooth transition left onto Hwy 14A begins another 5.5 miles of tree lined roadway to Savoy, oasis of food, drink and lodging (surprise to the seclusion seduced runner!), and the 11 mile mark.

A quick left turn up Little Spearfish Canyon presents another opportunity to experience a variation on the theme of trees and cliffs and beauty (did I mention tranquility?). Seven tenths of a mile toward Roughlock Falls is the turn-around (the falls are worth a trip back), check the limestone cliffs six stories above and picture “Wind in His Hair” on his pinto pony proclaiming his allegiance to Dunbar. On a still day you can almost hear the stentorian echo…”I—am—his—friend!!” reverberate among the massive rugged giants.

Exiting Roughlock Road, appreciate the rustic beauty of Spearfish Canyon Lodge and Latchstring Inn (plan to come back for dinner), then hit automatic pilot. It’s all down hill on the quintessential Scenic Byway. ’Cruisin’ the Canyon’ is what you came for… curves ahead!

Towering canyon walls of Deadwood shale, Englewood limestone, and Paha Sapa Limestone form a protected journey beside sparkling Spearfish Creek for the next 12 miles. Slow down so you can enjoy “The Dice” (two huge boulders that rolled across the highway one night and came to rest in Spearfish Creek), check out historic Maurice Hydro-plant, walk the water-stop at filmy Bridal Veil Falls, and wonder at the flora diversity of Botany Bay. Enjoy the stoic beauty of a canyon twelve times more ancient than Grand Canyon.

Twenty-five miles, time to brake for Winterville. Curve around through the City Campground and into Spearfish City Park, then cross the bridge over your stalwart escort, Spearfish Creek, and celebrate a satisfying sprint to the finish line.

Strut through the park and show off your medal, you’re a STAR!

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