There’s a reason the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run is one of the summer’s most popular events in Sheridan County. It’s all in the name.
Ultrarunning has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing sports. According to UltraRunning Magazine, the number of races in the U.S. and Canada jumped from 293 in 2004 to 1,300 in 2014. The sport, which considers any race longer than a traditional 26.2-mile marathon as an ultramarathon, forces competitors to test the limits of the human body against the elements.
As ultrarunning becomes more and more popular, the creators of the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run were ahead of the curve. This summer will mark the 23rd year of the event and the 14th anniversary of the 100-mile race.
Last year’s race featured more than 1,000 competitors in four different races: a 30K, a 50K, a 50-mile and the ever-popular 100-mile. Nearly every state and 16 different countries were represented in the event.
But what attracts these runners to Dayton every summer?
It’s scenic. Beginning at the base of the Bighorn Mountains in Tongue River Canyon, the 100-mile and 50-mile races take competitors up and down the Bighorns, reaching elevations higher than 8,000 feet. The mountains provide a breathtaking backdrop while simultaneously creating a rugged terrain and sometimes treacherous running conditions.
Then, there’s the wild. In a 2009 race, Karl Meltzer hit an unsuspected roadblock at the halfway point. A disturbed moose chased Meltzer down the trail, kicking him in the hand and shin along the way. Luckily, Meltzer avoided any serious injuries and shook the moose on his way to a first-place finish.
As ultrarunning steadily gains popularity, the already attractive Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run will only tighten its grasp as one of the highest rated races in the country.
This year’s race will start on June 19.