Simply Dakota Uprising » Inspiring a Life of Love + Adventure in the Black Hills

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Kyle Kranz is one of those people I immediately recognized as having that extra special drive and passion for what he does. He’s a go-getter, a positive force, and a unique person to get to know in the Black Hills. He is a professional running coach, having been through it all himself, from the beginning stages of never having run a race before to completing multiple ultra-marathons and an Ironman. With the start of the new year, and since so many resolutions revolve around getting healthy and back into shape, get to know more about Kyle below and if you’re interested in getting started with running or simply want to get some pro tips or improve your race times, contact him for some personal, one-on-one coaching.

The Basics

Name: Kyle Kranz

Any nicknames? My mom calls me “Bud”, but that’s about it!

Birthday: September, 1987

Where are you from? Originally from Kranzburg, SD. (named after an ancestor)

Where do you live now? Rapid City, Love it here!

Tell me about your business.

I work with busy working adults all over the world to improve their running. Think of a personal trainer at the gym, but for running, and all the work is done via skype/email/messaging/etc.

What is a typical day like for you?

I love my days, I would have a hard time going back to a 9-5 type job. I wake up with my wife (a Spanish teacher in Rapid) and go into my home office with a yoga mat always in the middle of the floor and do a bit of meditation and/or strength and mobility work. I’ll make breakfast for us and her lunch. Once she leaves I typically work at home or a coffee shop until noon at which time I’ll go for a run. When I come back home I’ll do some more strength & mobility work, clean myself up, eat, and then I typically do a few chores and eventually get started on dinner. Many evenings if my wife needs to do some correcting I’ll work some more when she does, but evenings are typically pretty relaxed for both of us since I’m able to do a bit of house-work in the afternoon.


What is one favorite thing you thoroughly enjoy about your job?

The Dalai Lama said that the purpose of life is to contribute to the happiness of other people, and I look at my job as doing a bit of that. I get to help people achieve goals and improve at something they care enough about to pay me to mentor them in. I’m very grateful for this.

List three random things you use/eat/drink/watch/read/listen/do on a daily basis.

1) I listen to my guinea pig (Gary the Guinea Pig) chirp whenever I open the refrigerator. 2) I use our alarm clock that makes coffee right away in the morning (ok, it’s just an automatic coffee machine in the bedroom. Way better to wake up to than an alarm bell). 3) I’ve been loving overnight oats lately.

Tell me one thing about you that (maybe) no one knows.

I gobble at turkeys when I see them while out running. Sometimes they gobble back.

Black Hills

Where is your favorite spot in the Black Hills region?

Skyline Drive in Rapid City. I know, not terribly exotic or out there but having such a scenic drive right here in town and have it surrounded my so many trails is such a special treat for the people of Rapid City. I can run for 5 minutes from my front door and be at the closest trail and be up at the top in about 10 minutes. The view of the city at night is spectacular and the view of the hills during the day is enough to get me to stop running and just take it in.

What inspires you most about the Black Hills area?

That there is so much left to explore!

Tell me one little, favorite story from your adventures in the Black Hills.

I was out running in the hills west of Black Hawk with my wife mountain biking a little behind me. I was a bit ahead of her, turned a corner and a mountain lion was sitting on the path less than a block distance away from me. We both remained still and watched each other for a few moments and then she wandered off.

Name one amazing place to eat in the Black Hills and why you love it.

The Katmandu & Everest restaurants in Rapid City! My wife and I love the Nepalese food and the workers are so nice. One of them even sat with us once to show us how to properly eat the food:)

What’s your favorite trail and why?

The Flume Trail starting near Rockerville. The still visible history of the trail is so interesting, you can see where they built the route, and you can even view Rapid City from the top!

What’s one lesson you’ve learned about adventuring in the Black Hills?

Don’t think that just because there’s little or no snow in some areas the same is true for others.

What is one impression you wish you could change about the Black Hills?

That we all ride Harleys?

kyle kranz, running coach

How does living in the Black Hills impact your life (or creativity or business)?

I had never really gone camping, trail running, or hiking before I lived here. There’s just not that much of these activities where I lived for the first 23 or so years of my life. These activities have really changed me as a person.

Tell me one thing about the Black Hills that (maybe) no one knows.

You can still see old railroad spikes on the Mickelson Trail from when it was a railroad. You have to be watching, but they’re there!

Being Creative / Leaving a Legacy

Is there anyone in the community that you turn to for inspiration, advice, or creative collaboration?

Being an active member of the Black Hills Running Club gives me so so many people that I can turn to. It’s incredible to me the variety of people you’ll find on group run or at the meal afterwards. Doctors, students, people with advanced degrees, school dropouts, military, and people who run in kilts. I know that if I have a question or problem there will be someone I know through running who can help. In regards to my running and coaching this group certainly gives me ideas, experience, and thoughts to ponder.

Have you had any mentors along the way?

I’m a running coach who has been coached in the past, not only were they improving my running but they were examples for my own business. I’m also a part of an online trainers support group with thousands of members and we’re constantly giving and receiving advice.

Have you ever taken a big risk for yourself or your life or your business? Was it worth it?

Being an entrepreneur is always a bit risky. I figure if it does not work out I’m still young and if it does, then hell yeah it’s worth it.


What’s your best advice?

Figure out what you would do for fun if you won a billion dollars and didn’t have to work another day in your life, then figure out how to get paid to do that.

Are you creatively satisfied?

I’m growing creatively, so I’m satisfied in that aspect 😉 I spent two months filming, editing, and publishing a Youtube video almost every weekday. That was a huge learning experience and a great way to improve my skills in that aspect.

What could the Black Hills use more of?

Vegetarian restaurants! My wife and I house-sat / pig-sat in Seattle for a few weeks last summer and took advantage of a few great vegetarian eating locations. Oh, and more advanced / widespread recycling programs.

Do you feel an obligation to contribute to something greater than yourself?

What could that possibly be? I try my best to contribute to the heath of the planet, every little bit counts. I pick up garbage while running on Skyline Drive, recycle what I can, try not to waste water. I hope that in the future I can do more. I’d love to have a more eco-friendly house.

What type of legacy do you hope to leave?

I hope that people look at me as inspiration for what can be. In high school, I was obese and depressed. Now I’m a sub-elite athlete who is successfully working for myself at a job I consider a hobby. If you work hard, do it right, and have patience, you can do just about anything!

Show Kyle some love:

About this Series
I’ve started the In Good Company portion of the Dakota Uprising initiative because I think it’s important to highlight the creative and good souls of our area. I love putting the spotlight on other people, hearing their stories, and learning from their experiences. If you’d like to know about these souls too, read on my friends.

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It was too beautiful not to go outside on Monday, January 3, 2017. We went up a road a dirt road in Summerset, skirted along the trees and stopped to snap a few shots. We then went to Piedmont and found the entrance to Piedmont Trail and walked that road in the 12-degree weather.

The Black Hills are beautiful.

All photos shot on my iPhone 5s and edited with the VSCO app.

the rockerville burnWe were heading south on Highway 16 before the sun had risen. We got to Rockerville early and the dozen or so firetrucks had already beaten us there. We stumbled through the deep snow and circled the old historic buildings on last time and then patiently waited for the burn to start. Understandable for the land owners, but just a sad situation to lose a piece of history like that.

It’s a reminder to live in the moment, live for your current season, and do your best not to take anything for granted because tomorrow it could be gone.

the rockerville burnthe rockerville burn


the rockerville burnthe rockerville burn

For those of you that asked, the buildings that were burned down were the ones directly across from the Gaslight Saloon, one directly west of those buildings, and one directly west of the Gaslight Saloon. I believe these were the buildings from the 1950s. The other historic buildings (east of the Gaslight saloon) are still there.

For more info on why the burn happened, visit the Black Hills Travel blog or the SDPB post about it.

From Wikipedia:

Rockerville was founded in 1876 as the result of a gold rush.[1]

It was a tourist town in the 1950s and 1960s because of its key location on US Highway 16 between Rapid City and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It had a variety of tourist attractions, including a “Mellerdrammer” (Mellodrama) live theatre, a “Ghosttown” of various buildings with tourist shops and small amusements, “It’s a Small World” Museum (featuring an 1880 Tiny Town model and other miniature collections), a motelcampgrounds and RV parks. However, in the conversion of US Highway 16 to four lanes in the mid-1960s, the original townsite was placed literally between the two separate roadways, as there was no way to widen the original highway through the town without completely destroying it. Despite the construction of at least three exits into the town from both directions, the town virtually died because travelers on their way to and from Mount Rushmore never saw the town when whizzing past at 55 miles per hour. Every business closed, and many remain abandoned to this day, although the “Gaslight Saloon” remains a local restaurant and attraction. 

It was always my goal with Westward Wandering to “do good” with the business. Profit isn’t a thing. I have an 8-5 job. Westward Wandering is and always has been for fun. So thank you for supporting the business, buying my tees, liking my posts, and straight up being awesome.

I stumbled upon an amazingly cool nonprofit organization called One Tree Planted, and I am happy to announce that you will have the opportunity to plant one tree for one dollar when you checkout on How kickass is that?

One Tree Planted has the mission to reforest our planet and provide education, awareness and engagement on the importance of trees in our ecosystem.  Their goal is to make it simple for you to take part in reforestation – a cause most everyone seems to care about, but don’t have an opportunity to actually make happen. Well, now you have that opportunity.

With climate change such a huge topic these days (and I highly recommend watching “Before the Flood” – plus, you know, Leonardo DiCaprio), planting trees is more important than ever. Did you know that 80,000 acres of forests disappear from the earth every day? And did you know that 4 out of 10 trees will be chopped down for paper products?  Read more tree facts here. The stats are staggering.

One dollar. One tree. Let’s do this.

a year in review - dakota uprising

What a year it’s been! From my first print ads and interviews to a crazy holiday season to gaining over 3500 followers on Instagram – 2016 was an exciting year. The bar has been set high, and it’s a goal for 2017 to raise that bar even higher (in my own little Dakota Uprising world, kind-of-way).

Thought I’d do a little post with some stats from the year. Mostly so I can do this again in one year and see what’s been accomplished.



Social Media Stats:

  • Instagram followers: 3,538
  • Facebook followers: 852
  • Instagram total likes: 65,600+
  • Instagram total comments: 1,500+

The “Most Liked Photo” on Instagram in 2016 was by @laurophyll:


The “Most Commented Photo” on Instagram in 2016 was this one, which is cool, because I totally listened to your guys’ feedback and the bottom design is now printed on the back of your shirts, and I can’t tell you how much easier ya’ll made that decision for me:





Dakota Uprising was featured in a few different places this year, which was super fun, and I appreciate the support each of these places gave to me this year:

dakota uprising real deal

605 Magazine
A South Dakota-based, youth-focused magazine featuring South Dakota culture, entertainment and events, and people making a difference.

Black Hills Lifestyle Magazine
Celebrating local women and businesses with a fun splash of fashion, design, health, and other local topics.

Couture in the Suburbs
An inspiring blog out of Phoenix, New York City, Sioux Falls and Tuscon seeking to expose talented individuals excelling within the fashion, beauty and culture industries.

DakotaChic Blog
A local South Dakota lifestyle blog that brings together all of Sarah’s favorite things – food, fashion, beauty and home decor.



The Shop

The top product of 2016 was the BLCK HLLS Sweatshirt:

blck hills sweatshirt

Your second favorite Dakota Uprising tee of 2016 is the Cities and Towns tee:

cities and towns tee



2017 Goals

My goals for 2017 include a steady social media following growth (similar to this year), organizing a few fun meet-ups, collaborating more with talented local people, and getting into my first shop (selling wholesale).

If there’s something you’d like to see from Dakota Uprising in 2017, comment below.

Thanks for all the positive vibes you’ve sent this year – from likes on social media, to personal messages, to sharing posts, to buying shirts, to doing photoshoots. I know who you are, and I appreciate you.

And just to see if you were listening, here’s a coupon code for TEN DOLLARS OFF the BLCK HLLS Sweatshirt: BYE2016. (Today and January 1st, 2017 only). Surprise and happy new year.
Shop now.

Cheers to 2017.