NXN got it right when it set the Heartland Regional Meet in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After all, Sioux Falls calls itself “The Heart of America.” The city is in the Great Plains, right in the middle of the USA and joined by other Plains states, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas to form the Heartland Region. The weather is heartland too, with blizzards, wind and cold temperature in November. Already western South Dakota had 4 feet of snow and the temperature for Saturday in Sioux Falls was a high of 34. So Heartland runners are tough and can take any weather Portland dishes out in December. The Plains provide a lot of open, unpopulated areas.
But in those populated towns, and metro areas, there is a lot going on. When not running in Sioux Falls, there are 6 minor league sports teams to watch, the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum to visit or the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra to listen to. For variety, there are 65 parks and 20 miles of bike trails and home to public and private golf courses.
The city of Sioux Falls and the surrounding area has a population of about 225,000. It’s been growing rapidly and boasts a low unemployment rate even as the rest of the country is experiencing job loss. The city was named for the falls of the Big Sioux River. The Big Sioux is a tributary of the Missouri River which flows south and southeast, and is 295 miles long. It runs south of Sioux Falls, SD and becomes the boundary between South Dakota and Iowa.
The river has been the focus of life and livelihood for a long time, starting with Native Americans, riding out the Civil War days, going through the transitions of the industrial age and the thriving with the impact of the train. The river was the site of the Queen Bee Flour Mill and a source of electrical power. Today, the river runs through Falls Park, in the heart of Sioux Falls. The park is 42 acres in size and a focal point for numerous activities from concerts, to festivals year around. One of the most popular events is the Winter Wonderland for which 13 miles of lights are strung to anything that does not move and Santa and live reindeer and ice sculptures arrive.
The view of the falls from on top of the 5 story Visitor's Center.
Each second an average of 7,400 gallons of water drop 100 feet over the course of the falls. It makes for a splendid sight.
The stone around the falls is called quartzite. It is the bedrock of the falls. Quartzite is a very hard stone, harder than granite and almost as hard as diamonds. Mining quartzite at the falls was one of the early industries in the area. The rock was mined, sold and used in buildings in the area. Today quartzite is still mined in the area, but not at the falls.
A nice spot to enjoy the falls in any season.
As I stood on the porch of the Falls Café, I imaged enjoying the view on a warm day while sipping a cold drink. But, the winds of November quickly brought me back to reality, so, I ran inside to warm up with my tea.
Phillips Avenue in Downtown, Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls is a city of about 151,000 and like many old cities, it has revitalized its downtown. It has some of the most interesting art work that line Phillips Avenue, one of the main streets in Downtown.