Mark Lundblad wins the 40 mile race from Black Mtn. to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi. 4:52 and change. He won the race in 2009 as well, but didn't race it last year.
Congrats to him! Some day I hope to finish somewhere far behind him.
7. Have fun!
A much better race report sent out via e-mail:
2/26/2011 - Black Mountain, NC
The 14th annual Mount Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon saw some of the finest weather in the history of the event this weekend! Under bluebird skies and warm finish line temps, both races took runners through some of the most spectacular scenery that Western North Carolina has to offer!
The gun went off at 7am in downtown Black Mountain for both events, and it was immediately apparent that the men's Challenge would be the race of the day...2009 champion (and former 50 mile National Champion) Mark Lundblad (Inov8) was on hand, but was sure to be pushed hard by a strong field of new-comers like Team Rock Creek's Dane Mitchell (fresh off a string of course record runs in 2010), Josh Wheeler (also Rock Creek), Sean Messier (Montrail), Jason Friedman (Inov8) and pro triathlete & ultra newcomer Kevin Lisska...A testament to the strength of the group was the presence of Leadville 100 course record holder Paul Dewitt and local studs Scott Williams and Paul Scouten...all of which were thought to be factors, but ultimately not considered contenders for the win...
The large group of leaders solidified quickly on the lower trails and the rocky Toll Rd. climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Setting a blistering early pace, the group reached the 17 mile aid station with Dane Mitchell holding a very slight lead over Lundblad, with the rest of the pack only seconds behind... Entering the upper single track trails of Mount Mitchell, the conditions changed quickly, with runners beginning to encounter the snow and ice that makes this race such a beast. Lundblad continued to press the pace in an effort to close the gap on Dane, and at the summit, was surprised to learn that he was, in fact, the leader...it was later learned that Dane Mitchell had fallen and was extracted from the course by rescue crews with a suspected separated shoulder...After learning he was now the leader...and on record pace...Lundblad stomped the gas pedal to begin the return trip from the 6684 foot summit of Mount Mitchell back to the 2200 foot finish line while, just behind him, the race for second began in earnest as well. Kevin Lisska found himself in 2nd place over the top, with Scott Williams and Josh Wheeler hot on his heels...The decision for places would be worked out on the technical and rocky Toll Rd. descent...
Meanwhile, the women's Challenge race was a hot one as well! 2006 Champion Beth Weathersby (Asheville, NC) spent the majority of the day running alongside 2010 third place finisher Wendy Wright (Asheville, NC) and tracking early leader Elizabeth Callaway (Athens, GA). The Toll Rd. descent would play the selection role here as well...
At the finish, Mark Lundblad put the stamp on an incredible day by flying along the trails for the half mile loop of Lake Tomahawk at 5k race pace and emotionally pumping his fist at the line...His finish time of 4:52:33 knocked nearly 2 minutes off the fastest time ever run on the full Challenge course!
The following places shuffled a bit in the closing miles as Scott Williams was able to continue pressing, passing Lisska for second (5:02:40 to 5:07:53)...Josh Wheeler (5:14:53) hung on for 4thwith some good blood to show after a fall on the ice...and Jason Friedman (5:18:11) rounded out a strong top 5...
The reports for the women's leader at the last aid station came in and it was clear that Weathersby had stopped chatting and started racing...Dropping the hammer on the long downhill, she overhauled Callaway and extended her lead at the finish (6:19:15 to 6:27:17)...Wendy Wright repeated her 3rd from a year ago with a very close finish to Calloway...just 29 seconds back (6:27:46)
Master's winners in the Challenge were Paul Scouten (41) of Black Mountain in 5:23:37 and Cynthia Heady (49) of Finchville, KY in 7:31:24.
The accompanying Marathon took runners to the Blue Ridge Parkway and back...and saw local runners Jared Nielson of Montreat, NC (3:16:06) and Allie Hustead of Black Mountain, NC (3:56:24) take the overall wins. Masters Marathon winners were Robert Taylor from Cary, NC (3:31:19) and Cheri Fine from Atlanta, GA in (4:19:59)
The organizers of the Black Mountain Marathon and the Mount Mitchell Challenge are very proud that this event has grown from humble beginnings to one of the premier trail running events in the East...all while generating important economic benefits in challenging times, during a slow point in the WNC tourist season...We are also proud to use this event to support some very important causes like the Black Mountain Fire and Rescue Department, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Sponsors of the event include Black Mountain Savings Bank, Black Dome Mountain Sports, The Black Mountain Fire Recue Department, Mount Mitchell State Park, Stone & Christy, The Ale House in Black Mountain, the Town of Black Mountain, The North Face, Sierra Designs, Ultimate Direction, Hammer Nutrition...and a host of other individual volunteers!