We want to give you good news on race day!. After having to shorten the Challenge twice in its 25 year history, due to Mount Mitchell park access issues on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we have strategized a way to give good news, rather than bad, on race day. All runners will sign up for the Marathon and if the Summit is available and covered with aid stations on race day, the first 250 runners that want to go to the summit for the full Challenge, and have reached the Parkway Marathon turnaround within the cut-off time, will become Challenge racers and will have the option to continue to the Summit. Summit racers will continue to be allowed to head up until the 250 racer capacity is reached or the cut-off time of 10AM has passed. Once one of those two thresholds has been reached, subsequent runners reaching the Parkway turnaround will continue normally as Marathon finishers.
In a typical year, there are less than 250 runners that reach the Parkway within the cutoff time, so this solution should give anyone who is capable, the chance for a Summit, if it is available to us.
We feel this is a better solution that having to deny folks the chance of a Summit because of a closure at the last minute.
The Challenge is this: Begin at dawn in Black Mountain, the quaint "front porch of Western North Carolina", and follow trails to the "rooftop" of Western North Carolina, the 6,684' summit of Mount Mitchell - eastern America's highest point - then return to the start/finish area! With a starting altitude of 2,360', the elevation gain for this 40-mile run will be 4,324' - in the first 20 miles!
Race founders Wendell Begley of Black Mountain Savings and Trent Thomas from Black Dome Mountain Sports saw a need for this kind of event for both the elite athlete and the weekend warrior. Their goal was to design a race that was attainable physically while offering the opportunity to test oneself against the often-uncooperative forces of nature!
The Marathon runners start side-by-side with the Challengers and duplicate their course to the Black Mountain Gap overlook on the famed Blue Ridge Parkway. Here, at an elevation of 5,340' and with an extraordinary view of Mount Mitchell as a backdrop, Marathoners will turn and retrace their course to the Start/Finish area in Black Mountain.
While you are required to carry all the gear you will need to complete the race for the entire distance (no drop bags or outside support allowed)...There will be a number of aid stations offered along the course where food and drink will be available...There you will find: Gatorade, water, salty chips, cookies, energy food, pretzles, oranges, bananas, some Endurolytes, and a few stations will have Ibuprofen and Vaseline...
Local time: 3:06 AM