The 21st Annual Mount Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon comes to town


On Feb. 24, for the 21st time, runners descended on downtown Black Mountain for the Mount Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon. 

Around 500 runners gathered near the intersection of Cherry Street and Sutton Avenue for the event, which began at 7 a.m. 

Both races took runners north on Cherry Street and through the Montreat gate, where the event shifted to the trails. Challenge and marathon runners ran the same course to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where nearly half of the group continued to the top of Mount Mitchell. Marathon runners turned back at the parkway and began their descent back to town. 

Both races finished at Lake Tomahawk, where Morgan Elliott, of Aspen, Colorado, was the first Mount Mitchell Challenge runner to cross the finish line. Elliott completed the 40-mile run in 4:20.48. 

Mike Mitchell, of Mint Hill, was the first runner to complete the Black Mountain Marathon, crossing the finish line 3:07.42 after starting the race. 

Aliza Lepierre, of Williston, Vermont, was the first woman to finish the Challenge, doing so in 5:31.29, while Jennings Gary (4:00.42) of Asheville was the first female runner to cross the finish line in the Black Mountain Marathon.