Every February, hundreds of super athletes from around the world come to Black Mountain to challenge their minds and bodies to the max. The Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge is a yearly event that sends athletes up to the highest point East of the Mississippi. Mt. Mitchell stands at 6,684 ft in elevation! The elevation gain for this 40-mile run will be 4,324' - in the first 20 miles!
The race was founded by Black Mountain local David Begley from Black Mountain Savings Bank and Trent Thomas from Black Dome Mountain Sports. It was their vision to create a race that was physically attainable and mentally challenging while battling the unpredictable elements. A portion of the proceeds go to support local charities that support land conservancy and protecting local heritage.
The marathon runners begin side by side with the challenge runners. The marathon runners break off and turn back at the Blue Ridge Parkway and head back towards Black Mountain. The Challenge runners continue the additional 1,300 ft to Mt Mitchell before coming down the mountain. While Black Mountain has mild winters, there can still be feet of snow and ice throughout the majority of the race course.
Injuries happen frequently on this course. Injuries can range from small cuts and bruises to hypothermia to animal encounters! You have to be prepared for anything that Mother Nature may throw you! Runners must complete the race prior to 5 pm and the safety officials will be the judge based on weather conditions for that day. There will always be plenty of emergency personnel stationed along the race course to assist with first aid and water supply.
While this race is not for the faint of heart, it is incredible to see what these amazing athletes can accomplish! It is so fun to walk to Lake Tomahawk and cheer on the athletes that are finishing the race. You would be amazed at how quickly some people make it down the mountain. ESPN has talked about covering the race and hopefully in the future it will be a showcase to the world what a special place we have here.
Best of luck to all the racers this February 25!
Eddie Colley on