In 1763, europe powers to be vying for manage over what would become the Midwest of the USA. France had just been defeated in the seven Years’ War, leaving the british in regulate of locations east of the Mississippi yet Spain, with a power facility located in brand-new Orleans, has the top hand west the the Mississippi.

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Two year later, a Canadian-French fur trapper and also trader, Julien Dubuque, had actually put under roots amongst the Mesquakie (better recognized to background as the Fox) ~ above the west financial institution of the Mississippi, developing what would eventually be the very first European negotiation on Iowa territory. Dubuque listed the Mesquakie were properly pulling command from pit mines in the area approximately Catfish Creek and also applied because that a give from the Spanish to start his own mining operations. The approve was made listed the 189-square mile tract of land it is in designated “the Mines of Spain.”

Today, we have actually Dubuque, Iowa, which actually owes component of the prosperity to the mid-nineteenth century mineral mining the continued past Julien Dubuque’s day. We likewise have the 1,432-acre Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, i m sorry stretches southern of Dubuque over rugged, wooded Mississippi flow bluff lands, which includes the iconic rock tower high above the river that dwellings the gravesite that Julien Dubuque.


Krista Wilhelmson of Duluth, Minnesota keeps her feet dry crossing a stream early on in the 100-mile race. Photo: Rick mayo | Mile 90 Photography

The Mines of Spain 100 makes wonderful use that the area’s colorful history, and the beauty beauty and variety of habitats of the natural human being there v a 20-mile, loop course the is repeated for the 100k and also 100-mile distances. Add to that, stellar race organization, great volunteers and exceptional jogger support, including a an excellent menu at the aid stations (pulled pork sandwiches!), and also it all adds up to a cool occasion that is most likely to become a fixture in Midwest

The course is about in a figure-eight pattern, v out-and-back sections and also other components being shared by runners going opposite directions. As a result, during the very first 20-mile loop, runners tend to happen by the same world over and also over again, however as time walk on and also all the tide of runners law both distances get mixed together, brand-new faces start showing up right through to the end. In fact, i finished the last mile the the race through a couple of runners that I hadn’t watched the whole 30 hours I to be on the course.

The usual COVID precautions were in place: temperature checks, buffs mandated in collection areas, staggered starts, less crew access, no-touch food/water, fall bag taking care of protocols, hand sanitizers, spaced-out plots for crew, distancing top top the course, and no awards ceremony, but these were tackled conscientiously and with good humor.


Andie Bennett the Sioux Falls, southern Dakota gets her temperature checked at the begin line, just one that the Covid-19 precautions initiated this year by the gyeongju organization. Photo: Rick mei | Mile 90 Photography

The start/finish was positioned in louis Murphy Park. Runners leave the park and immediately drop under a serpentine bicycle path into Riprow Valley, named for the practice of take it rows of planet aside to disclose the command beneath. A brief stretch that asphalt road caused a tunnel, and also past the was the Mines the Spain Recreation Area. It offered a wonderful view across the Mississippi through a glimpse of the handsome Julien Dubuque leg upriver, and Illinois and also Wisconsin in the distance. Quickly we do the climb up the bluff to Dubuque’s tower and also then back down the various other side past imposing Horseshoe Bluff to the vast network that dirt, grass and rock trails that run throughout the hilly park which had numerous to adjust of steps developed of calcite rocks, metal grates, heavy wooden beams, pink or cement.


Nataly Stenzel of Hales Corners, Wisconsin (left) and Justin Stenersen the Sioux Falls, southern Dakota run by Horseshoe Bluff, an old quarry in Mines the Spain State Park. Photo: Rick mei | Mile 90 Photography

The gyeongju is not without that challenges. All the hills, repeated five times because that the 100-mile, do for a substantial 14,000 feet of elevation acquire with a bulk of that coming in the kind of steep stairway climbs. Not lot of the follow is technical, however there are long stretches with the forest where jutting rocks and roots integrate with a sprinkling of autumn leaves to collection up hidden trip hazards. I took an ext than one fall, consisting of one crash that was so disorienting, I gained up and also ran off the not correct direction down the trail.

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Race director Joshua Sun, that was a sparkplug that enthusiasm, suspect on the Mines that Spain website that the race would certainly be “safe and also rewarding.” i think the race staff and also volunteers earned a huge check on both counts.