Runners overcome challenging weather to finish local races

Special to Black Mountain News

Over 350 runners battled rain and cold temperatures to complete the 22nd annual Mount Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon. 

The races began at 7 a.m. on Feb. 23, as the runners took off from Cherry Street and ran north toward Montreat. A steady rain fell throughout most of the day. 

The Challenge, which is a 40-mile race to the top of Mount Mitchell and back down to Lake Tomahawk, was won by Luke Paulson of Asheville (4:29:00). The top female finisher was Amanda Morris of Charlotte (5:21:48). 

A total of 112 runners, including nearly a dozen from the Swannanoa Valley, completed the Challenge. Among them was Chip Craig, owner of GreyBeard Realty, who ran the race for the 20th time. 

The Black Mountain Marathon featured 244 runners this year. The race begins alongside the Challenge with runners turning back toward town after they arrive at the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

This year's winner was Keith Harris of Cincinnati, Ohio (3:23:23). Cynthia Arnold, of Polson, Montana (3:49:04) was the fourth overall finisher of the marathon and the top female.