Mt Mitchell Challenge – Black Mountain Marathon – February 28, 2015

Mount Mitchell Challenge / Black Mountain Marathon
Mount Mitchell Challenge / Black Mountain Marathon

It’s that time again – the lottery for a prized slot in the Mt Mitchell Challenge:


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.


Due to the popularity and limited available spots for the Mount Mitchell Challenge, we have implemented a lottery for the 40-mile Challenge (the Black Mountain Marathon will still be first-come-first-served as usual). The Challenge lottery is meant to give everyone a chance to register over the course of an entire week, starting September 1, 2014. Shortly after the close of registration, the system will randomly select the set number of participants and post the results. To be completely equitable to those that have supported us for the past 15 years, Race Management will reserve some spaces in the lottery for runners that have participated in 10 or more Challenges. You will still need to enter the lottery, and it does not guarantee your entry. But, this should help show the respect and gratitude for those that support us year in and out!

Your credit card will be required to register, but we will not charge your account, until selected. However, if you are using a check card, your bank will lock your funds until we either process your payment or void the transaction.

How it works:

  • The Challenge lottery will open at 9AM EST on September 1st…It will remain open for 7 days…at which time it will close and the Challenge field will be assigned. Emails will then go out to those that have been selected and those that have not. The Marathon registration will remain closed until this process is finished.
  • On September 10th at 9AM EST, the registration for the Marathon will begin and continue until it is full. The Marathon entry process is first come, first serve, so delaying the start of Marathon registration will allow those that do not make the Challenge field the chance to sign up for the Marathon if desired. There will be a chance for Marathon registrants to sign up for the Challenge wait list.
  • The Challenge cap is 200 runners. The Marathon is 250. Most of the Challenge runners are randomly selected from the lottery. There are few reserved slots for long time runners (10 or more years here) or sponsors, etc.  If you think you are special in one of these ways, you still need to register for the lottery.

Some details to know:


Challenge – $125
Marathon – $100


You can withdraw by January 15th and receive a refund minus $30 or a full credit towards the following year. Withdrawals after January 15th will receive no refund or credit.


1. Am I on the “Early Registration” email list?

If you have run before, probably. But, add your email above to be sure. The registration email goes out in August.

2. If I don’t make the lottery selection, do I get a spot in the Marathon automatically?

No. But, we are delaying the start of Marathon registration until after the lottery is finished and the folks that did not get in are notified, that way, everyone has the same chance to register for the Marathon.

3. Will there be a wait list for the Challenge?

Not automatically. But, if you choose to register for the Marathon, there is an option to be put on the Challenge wait list. We generally get a dozen or so drop-outs before February and those spots would be offered to this list in order.

4. Why is there a limit on the race?

Our permitting process and safety standards will only allow so many athletes in the race. While the quality and ability of both the athletes and the emergency personnel have improved dramatically over the years, this is still Mt. Mitchell in the winter, a very remote and dangerous place to be staging such an event.

5. What was the old selection process?

We hand selected runners based on the number of times they had run our event. The more times you had raced, the more likely you got in. This process was fine when the race wasn’t quite so popular. But, with a very strict maximum field number and a 16 year old event, you can see how new runners were feeling as though they would never be able to get in for the first time. Online registration was also something that had been requested for a number of years. Going to a lottery for the Challenge and then a first come, first serve method for the Marathon – while giving a slight nod to past racers – seemed like the best compromise.

6. What is the cancellation policy?

You can withdraw by January 15th and receive a refund minus $30 or a full credit towards the following year. Withdrawals after January 15th will receive no refund or credit.


Online registration is available at Ultra Signup. For more information, visit the race website.

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