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April 2015 – Mark Zwaschka

I was born and raised in Comfrey, Minnesota, growing up on a dairy farm. I have two degrees in geology from UM-Duluth and Auburn University, Alabama and have spent most of my career in exploration and mine geology at various areas all across the US. My wife, Jessica, and I moved to Spearfish from North Carolina in May of 1996 when I took a geologist position with a gold mine that I had been consulting for. After that job ended, I then worked for Homestake as a surface and underground mine geologist. For the past 13 years, since the mine closed, I have
been doing site reclamation on the Homestake property. My wife teaches Chemistry at Spearfish High School and we have two children, Zachary (15) and Alexandra (12). When I am not running, I keep up with my children’s activities and like to do family hikes when we can fit them in.
I did not participate in track during high school but started running consistently about 23 years
ago while living in North Carolina, mainly for stress relief from my job. When we moved to
Spearfish, I became more serious about it and started increasing the number of runs each
month along with the distance. I decided to try a 4 mile race in early 2001 and much to my
surprise I placed in 3 races that year. The following year I did the inaugural Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon to push my boundaries. I celebrated my 50th birthday by doing the Bighorn Wild & Scenic 50K.
The Trail Running Series has a great set of races with the Deerfield Lake Loop, Victoria Secret Dirty Half Marathon, and Sundance 30K (hope it happens this year) among my favorites.
I didn’t become a Runner’s Club member until about 4 years ago even though I had done a lot of their sponsored runs over the years. I have met a lot of great people at all those races that are now my friends. I enjoy seeing everyone just as much as the race itself.
I train alone on a mix of roads and trails but generally race only on trails now. Running has
always been my “me” time to go out to de-stress, think, and enjoy nature. The Tinton Trail and Lookout Mountain Trails are two of my favorite places to run in Spearfish.
My advice to new runners is to have fun with running but “listen” to what your body is telling
you and gradually ramp up your running. I set goals each month with my running but don’t
push past any pain and have remained relatively injury-free. Keep a running log to track your runs and how you are progressing along. One will have to realize that there will be good days and bad days with training/racing. Come to the races and get to know the great group of runners that reside here in the Black Hills.
I am getting ready for the Trail Running Series and dedicating this racing season to the memory of my Dad who passed away in January. Enjoy the beauty of running in the wonderful Black Hills.