2023 Mount Mitchell Heartbreaker 50-miler

Here it is almost 2 months later, so I better write something before I forget it all. This race was three weeks after the Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 miler, and I as I wrote there I was a little disappointed there was so much pavement in that one. So when I heard about this race and saw that it was almost entirely on trail, I signed up — even though it was so soon after the challenge! But I basically ran 5-10 miles per week at most in between, and felt recovered enough.

Tanawha Adventures puts on great races with great course, and this was no exception. The start and finish was at Camp Grier in Old Fort, and I was able to park the van the night before the race, and stay there again the night of the race. There was also great food the night before and at the finish line.

Because it’s been two months, bullet points:

  • Got sick two nights before, finally catching the crud that had been in the house the week prior, which I thought I had avoided. Still decided to drive up with the hope that I would feel better race day
  • Slept horribly due to illness, but still decided to start the race, to see how it goes
  • For the 1st couple miles, really thought I should turn around. But there was an option to drop from 50 miles to 55k at mile 15 (or was it 20?), so I thought I’d give that a go. (There was always the chance to drop at an aid station prior to that decision point, if it came to that.)
  • Eventually I reached a point where I didn’t feel awful, though I never felt great, nor even good. But I was trudging along making steady progress, albeit slowly.
  • The course was really hard — some gnarly technical trails with rocks and roots, some steep inclines and declines, and 3 massive climbs.
  • While the official race info stated 12,000 of climb, my GPS ended up at over 14k! I think that was likely a little high, but it wasn’t too far off.
  • I finally trudged in at 14 hours, 22 minutes, about 2 hours longer than I thought it would take. I attribute a lot of that to not feeling very well, though some was certainly due to the difficulty of the course.
  • And now just some photos:
    • (You may not be able to tell, but it poured in those 1st 3 images!)

Oh, and here’s a relive video:

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