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Mt. Rushmore Half Marathon

A race with presidential views! You're going to love this course with gorgeous views of Mt. Rushmore and the surrounding Black Hills! The hill climbing on this course is no joke, but the payoff is incredible. Are you up for the challenge?
  • Location: Keystone, SD
  • Date: September 17, 2021 
  • Terrain: Mixed (trail & pavement)
  • Difficulty: Difficult (4.5/5)

September 18, 2021

Keystone, SD


Mixed Terrain


  • Quick Info

  • Travel & Lodging

  • Explore The Park

  • Sold Out!

Race Info

Date: September 18, 2021

Start Time: 6:30am

Ghost Canyon Getaway 

Hermosa, SD

Expo & Bib Pickup

September 17, 2021

10am - 6pm

Bib pickup available until 7pm

*The expo & start line will be located at Ghost Canyon Getaway. There will be parking onsite race morning, but we recommend taking a shuttle from Keystone.

The Course

Weather: 73° / 52°F

Terrain: This is a challenging, mixed terrain course.

Strollers allowed? Yes

Disability Friendly? Yes

Dogs allowed? No

The 2021 event will likely be our final Mount Rushmore Half.
We are big fans of the Black Hills and epic scenery in South Dakota, but we haven't been able to generate much interest in this race. When we hold this event in 2021, it will probably be our final race there. If you have your heart set on running this race, we highly encourage you to make plans on being there in 2021.

everything was fantastic

"Everything about this race was fantastic! From signing up to crossing the finish line, everything was smooth, organized, and well done. I originally signed up for the 2018 Mount Rushmore Half, but a work conflict made that impossible, so the wonderful people at Vacation Races let me defer to this year. (Thank you!!!) The race info emailed out the week before the race included EVERYTHING I needed to know, which was incredibly helpful for planning the trip from CO to SD.

As for the course, the first 7-ish miles are really difficult, but the views are stunning and the aid stations are spaced out well. (Also, I was 21 weeks pregnant during this race- thank you for having porta potties at every aid station! 🙂 Much appreciated! haha)

The finish in Keystone was great, volunteers were awesome, and the post race snack box was the best (so many gluten free snacks!) I’ve ever gotten. Truly, I loved everything about this race. I mean, even the version of the National Anthem played before the race was amazing. I will definitely be signing up for another Vacation Races event! Can’t recommend enough!!"


Wander Project Final Logo color

Support Our

Park Communities

Fundraise for your chosen race and your registration fee could be waived. All funds go to Wander Project to support efforts in and around the communities that host our events.

Learn more about Wander Project >>

Volunteer with Us!

Our amazing volunteers help runners at the race expo, finish line, merch tent, and beyond! Join us for a 3-4hr shift and earn a $50 or $100 credit towards a future race.

Pro-tip: Volunteer at the expo and run the next day OR ask a friend to volunteer and "gift" you the credit (or use it themselves!)


Know Your Guidelines

- Read your race details! Following event rules helps us to put on safe, sustainable events.

- We are a zero-waste event. Please stick to reusable water bottles and avoid bringing disposable items to the race.

- Be courteous towards fellow runners on and off the course.

Join the Community

Vacation Races is honored to have a community of runners who actively support one another! We highly recommend joining one our Facebook groups to get input from other runners, share stories, and learn about the latest updates.

Mount Rushmore Half Details

Come here to prepare for your race! Want this info on-the-go? Download the race guide>>

Course Details

All runners will have 4 hours to finish the entire race from the time they start their run. This is an 18.5 min mile - plenty of time for walkers! 

To be clear, this race doesn't take place inside the National Park. (It's difficult to get permission to conduct private business activities on national land, and rightly so.) Having said that, this is about as close to the park as it gets.

The race will run in reverse from our inaugural course. The Mt. Rushmore Half marathon begins at the Ghost Canyon Getaway on a well-packed dirt road for about 3 miles before turning into pavement. This is a challenging course with lots of gorgeous views of Mount Rushmore and the surrounding Black Hills! Though this course has a lot of uphill, runners will be rewarded with amazing views and a final downhill stretch before finishing at the Borglum Story Museum in the town of Keystone, SD! You are going to love this course!

We'll have parking at both the start and finish, with shuttles taking any runners who parked at the start back to their cars after the race. 

Course Records

Our course record holders receive a FREE RACE ENTRY every year that their time remains the course record! The current course record holders are:

Male Overall: Phillip Duncan  1:14:58 (2019)

Female Overall: Allie Oban  1:33:16 (2019)

Male Masters: Michael Osterholt  1:38:04 (2021)

Female Masters: Varinka Esminger  1:40:52 (2021)

Aid Stations

Expect about 6 aid stations on the course at around mile 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12. A medic will be stationed typically at the aid station at or near mile 7. Keep in mind, the exact location of each aid station may vary from race to race. Aid stations include toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate, Honey Stinger gels, basic first aid supplies, and sometimes more. 

All stations are cup-free so plan to bring your own hydration solution or request a free HydraPouch when you register. 

Additional Details

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Race Expo & Bib Pickup

You have a couple of options for picking up your bib and race packet including at the race expo or or we can mail it to you. When you register, we ask you to indicate when you plan to pick up your bib. If you plans change, don’t worry about it. We only ask to help us plan in terms of numbers.

Option #1: Race Expo
We’ll have our race expo the Friday before the race. We’ll have our merch table set up, so be sure to stop by and say hi!

Option #2: Race Morning (not recommended)
We will have limited race morning packet pickup. We do not recommend waiting until the morning, but if it cannot be avoided - we understand.

Race morning bib pickup will start at 4:30 and is located at the shuttle loading site. 

Option #3: Shipped Before the Race
There is a cost of $30 if you want to have your bib and shirt mailed to you. We do this as a convenience for runners not wanting to drive to the area early. You can add a shipped bib to your registration until one month before the race by logging into RunSignup, clicking Manage Registration, and Add Ons.

Refunds: Once your package is shipped, you are officially checked in to the race and no longer qualify for our refund, deferment, or transfer options.

Bib Pickup/Race Expo

Date: September 17, 2021

Location: Ghost Canyon Getaway (Keystone, SD)

Hours: 10am - 6pm

This is a great opportunity to pick up your bib, check out the area, and meet fellow runners. We’ll have our merchandise table set up, so be sure to stop by and say hi!

Expo ends at 6pm, but bib pickup will stay open until 7pm.

Bring Your Own Bag
In our ongoing effort to eliminate waste during our races, our expos are bagless events. We encourage you to BYOB (bring your own bag) to hold your bib, race shirt, and any goodies you pick up from the race expo!

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Race Day Schedule 


The race starts in Hermosa, SD but finishes back in Keystone. Runners may park at the start line (shuttles available) or walk to the start line shuttles in Keystone on race morning to avoid any driving.

4:30 AM - Parking areas open and shuttles start from Keystone to start line
5:00 AM - Morning bib pickup begins (at starting line)
5:05 AM - First prize raffle

(every 5 min. until 6:15 am)
5:20 AM - Last shuttle from Keystone heads to the start line

6:15 AM - Runners line up/Last call for gear check
6:25 AM - National Anthem
6:30 AM - RACE START - all divisions!
8:30 AM - Last shuttle from the start line to finish line departs
9:15 AM - Award Ceremony
10:30 AM - Race time limit

Parking & Shuttles

Parking Lots

Start Line Lot: Ghost Canyon Getaway

Lot Opens: 4:30 am

The race will start at Ghost Canyon Getaway, and finish in the town of Keystone.

For those staying in Keystone - a great option is to walk to the shuttle pick-up location in town and ride a shuttle to the start on race morning. 

If you are arriving from out of town - plan to park at the start line as there is limited parking in Keystone. All cars should be parked by 5:45 am.

Don't worry - runners who parked at the start line will be shuttled back after the race. 

Rushmore Start line Staging

Parking, Drop-off, and Shuttles

Shuttles & Runner Drop-off

Morning Shuttle - Keystone to Start Line

Shuttle Pickup: Ramada Hotel ((115 Swanzey St, Keystone, SD 57751)

Shuttle Hours: shuttles leave regularly between 4:30-5:20 am

*Parking is for hotel guests only.

Shuttles will take runners in Keystone to the start line in the morning. The shuttle loading area is within walking distance of every hotel in Keystone.

If you are staying in Keystone, we encourage you to leave your car at your hotel and walk to the front of the Ramada on Swanzey St to load a race shuttle. If you are not staying in Keystone and wish to park close to the finish line we have a few options for you. These parking lots open at 4:30 am:

1. The lot on the NW corner of Reed St and Winter St

2. The National Presidential Wax Museum

3. Keystone Tramway Adventures4.Any available street parking

Please do not park in private parking areas! When necessary, look for public street parking.

Keystone Staging 2
Rushmore Keystone Finish Line Staging

Parking, Drop-off, and Shuttles

Runner Drop-off
Runners can be dropped off in Keystone to grab a shuttle before 5:20am or at the start line by 5:45am.

Dropping off in Keystone? To avoid congestion in front of the Ramada, drop off runners in front of the Holiday Inn Express (321 Swanzey St, Keystone, SD 57751). The Holiday Inn is just East of the Ramada in town. Shuttles will load and leave beginning at 4:30 am with the last shuttle leaving at 5:20 am.


Spectators are welcome around the finish line to cheer on runners. If you are staying in Keystone, we suggest walking over to the finish line at the Borglum Story Museum. Parking is limited in Keystone, so look for street parking or park in one of the designated lots for the race.

Shuttles have limited capacity and are for runners only!

Please note: Iron Mountain Road will be closed for the race so spectators will need to take the route via SD-40 West to get back to Keystone once the race has started. 

From Ghost Canyon Getaway, spectators will drive east for a few miles where you will take a left on Box Canyon Rd. You will then take a left on Bender Ridge Rd. Then a right on Battle Creek Rd. Then left on SD-40 West. This will help the runners not get dusted out by vehicles for the first 2.5 miles of the race.

We recommend downloading the RaceJoy app to track your runner's progress and send them cheers along the way! Once your runner has crossed the finish line, please exit the runner recovery area to avoid crowding. The beverages, supplies, and medical tent at the finish line are for runner use only - thank you!

Zero Waste

As nature lovers, we are committed to keeping our events sustainable and managing negative impacts on the environment. Our goal is to send less than one bag of actual “trash” to the landfill after each event. We have managed to meet this goal at events with over 3,000 participants!

Here's how you can help us:


Single-use plastic is a huge source of waste at any public event. We have reduced that impact by making our events "cup-free". 

What does that mean for you?

Coolers of Water and Gnarly Hydrate (electrolyte drink) are available at all aid stations, but cups will not be provided on course or at the finish line. In order to stay hydrated, we ask you to bring one of the following:

1. Reusable water bottle

2. Hydrapouch - These light-weight cups clip onto your clothes. You can order one for free when you register OR purchase one at the expo ($10).

3. Hydration pack - These are refillable backpacks meant for running that allow you to access fluid via a built-in straw.

Person using hydrapouch to get water from a cooler

Stay hydrated on the go with a hydrapouch!


You can help us reduce trash by sorting disposable items into the appropriate container. 

You’ll notice three containers at our events:

  • Compostables: Organic goods like banana peels and most food items (without the wrapper please!)
  • Recyclables: Paper, aluminum, cardboard, steel, and glass. Please dump out any liquids into the compost bin BEFORE recycling the container.
  • Everything Else: Non-recyclable food wrappers like from used gel packets and styrofoam. Please dump out any food matter BEFORE throwing away the container.

Please avoid putting organic waste and compostable items in the wrong bin. It gets gross to sort through.

Race Results and Photos

Race Results

Visit RunSignup for current and past race results.

Runner times are available ~20 minutes after you finish the race. Keep in mind, the results are not official until all runners have crossed the finish line, and have been reviewed by the event director. Because our age group winners are based on chip time, it is possible to cross the finish line before someone else in your age group while still finishing with a slower time than them. 

Top Finisher but missed the awards ceremony? You can request to have your place medal shipped to you!

Got questions about your placement? please email


Race photos are typically available for FREE via RunSignup the Friday following the week of the race. We will send out an email when they're posted to the album. Past races are available via the link

Share your experiences with us! 
Be sure to use #RushmoreHalf in any photos you post from the race or your adventures exploring the park so we can share in the fun with you!

Race Merchandise

Exclusive Mount Rushmore Half Marathon merchandise will be available both at the race expo and near the finish line! When possible, we'll have race merch for sale in our online store after the race is over. Please allow time for us to add items online.

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