After hearing stories about the Mainly Marathons Center of the Nation Series from Pam Gardiner and Darlene McLuskie last year, Julie and I decided to try to run the series this year.
The Center of the Nation (CON) Series is 5 Half or Full Marathons in 5 states in 5 days. This year it was in Baker MT, Bowman ND, Belle Fourche SD, Sundance WY, and Chadron NE. We have both run/ walked a few half marathons a year, for the past few years. We were not up to running a full Marathon. We thought running several half marathons would be a fun challenge. The CON turned out to be quite BOP friendly.
The advertisement for the series said “walkers welcome “. The races were all out and back routes, from 1mile to 1.5 miles one way. There were quite a few people run/ walking the route. It was hard to tell at first. Later I found out most of them had their beepers set on vibrate. The races were either in city parks or state Parks. We ran on roads or jogging paths which were free of traffic when we were there. The out and back format meant that runners of all speeds had a chance to chat with each other as they ran the route. Since Julie and I run at different speeds, we would not normally see each other during a race. With this race, we had a chance to chat as we passed on each loop.
The single aid station at the start/ finish line made it easy to grab a snack or pickup/ drop items at the end of each loop. The aid station had a wide variety of food for the duration of the race.
The weather was perfect. Cool and overcast skies. They picked just the right time of year to run the series at this location.
There is an award given to the final finisher of each race, each day. It’s the caboose award. Julie got one for her run in Wyoming.
Having never tried anything like this before, we were pleasantly surprised to find out it’s an achievable goal. Throw in a few side trips, and it also makes an amazing vacation.
by Nathan Howard and Julie Candler