THE BLACK MOUNTAIN MARATHON
and MOUNT MITCHELL CHALLENGE
February 24, 2024 7am
Black Mountain, North Carolina
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!
All runners start together at 7AM and, if a Summit run is available to us, the first 250 runners that reach the Blue Ridge Parkway marathon turnaround, will be allowed to continue on to the Mount Mitchell Summit at an elevation of 5,340' and then back to a Challenge finish. Marathoners will turn at the Blue Ridge Parkway, with an extraordinary view of Mount Mitchell as a backdrop, and retrace their course to the Start/Finish area in Black Mountain. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE DANGERS OR THE DIFFICULTIES INHERENT IN THIS EVENT! This will be an extremely demanding course run over rugged mountain terrain under potentially life-threatening weather conditions. Participants must understand that their safety is paramount in the minds of the organizers and that while all reasonable precautions have been taken, it will be the competitor's ultimate responsibility to insure his or her own safety.
We are proud to say that a portion of proceeds from proceeds will go to several non-profit groups that support land conservancy, wilderness safety and mountain heritage...they include the Black Mountain Fire/Rescue Team, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy...An organization dedicated to the preservation of the wild places in which we love to play...Especially the area containing Mt. Mitchell...Click here to see what the SAHC is doing to protect the land we are racing in... THE MOUNTAIN... Mount Mitchell is, at 6,684, the highest peak in eastern America nearly 400 higher than New Hampshires Mount Washington. Once known by its Native American name of Black Dome, its name was changed to honor Dr. Elisha Mitchell through whose efforts the controversy over that lofty distinction was settled. (It is Dr. Mitchell's stone grave which marks the turnaround of the Challenge at the mountain's summit!). Many visitors (and runners) find it hard to identify Mount Mitchell among the other peaks in the thirteen-mile-long Black Mountain Range...a common problem since six other peaks in the range are greater than 6,500! Due to its elevation, the climate and the ecosystems of Mount Mitchell more closely resemble that of New Hampshire and Maine. The consequence of its elevation provides perhaps the most profound surprise to visitors...especially to those who arrive on foot! Because of the meteorological variability, race organizers have said that there will never be a "course record" for these events as the influences of weather conditions outweighs even the demands of the steep terrain.
SAFETY... Injuries... The rough terrain of this course coupled with the forces of nature make it quite likely that a competitor will suffer some sort of injury during this event...ranging from abrasions, contusions, or sprains as a result of falls... to hypothermia... to animal encounters, as this is still the natural habitat of the wildcat and the black bear. Be prepared to cope with whatever Mother Nature may see fit to send your way. Please note that firearms are not permitted within North Carolinas State Parks. Time Limits... Competitors must complete the Marathon and the Challenge by 5:00 PM; cut-off times will be enforced from the half-way mark onwards depending on the weather conditions at that time. There are designated cut-off times (usually 10am at the Parkway), based on weather and course conditions...Emergency personnel have the FINAL SAY on where we can go and when... Safety... Emergency personnel on the course will make the final determination of a competitors ability to continue. At checkpoints along the race route these safety personnel trained in wilderness first aid and equipped with radio communications will be ready to take action. The Event is self-supported...all gear required to finish must be carried from start to finish. Aid stations will be available to re-supply your food and water. Your ability to prepare for and to properly cope with these and other challenges will be a major part of the event! Your safety is our primary concern... Local search and rescue organizations (as well as the NC National Guard) volunteer their efforts to ensure the safety of the race course with many of the personnel on station in tents the night before! This race provides one way for these local agencies to hone their skills for saving lives throughout the year in this unforgiving terrain. We are in debt to the skilled members of the Black Mountain Fire and Rescue, Yancey County EMS, South Toe Volunteer Fire Department, Buncombe County EMS, Black Mountain Police, Montreat Police, USPS - Blue Ridge Parkway, US Forest Service, and Mount Mitchell State Park for all of their support and protection.