In 2007, Mark Lundblad broke the course record at the Mount Mitchell 40-Mile Challenge–but finished second (the winner also broke the course record).
In 2008, Lundblad was in the best shape of his life, having trained on the brutal Mount Mitchell trails all winter. But he caught the flu just days before the race and had to withdraw.
This year, Lundblad was finally crowned king of the mountain. He won the Mount Mitchell Challenge in 5 hours, 10 minutes, and 40 seconds–which is even more impressive considering the conditions in which he ran. Rain, sleet, ice, and snow pounded Lundblad and the other 200 runners, and 50-mile per-hour winds near the summit nearly blew runners off the mountaintop. Over a dozen runners had to be evacuated by emergency personnel during the race due to hypothermia. Lundblad persisted, holding off Jonathan Basham to win his first Mount Mitchell Challenge.
Organized by elite runner and race director Jay Curwen, the Mount Mitchell Challenge is the epic winter ultra: a 40-mile race to the summit of the highest mountain east of the Rockies–6,684 Mount Mitchell–and back down.