Quick report- placed 3rd overall at Mt Mitchell Challenge. Had felt a bit "blah" all week leading up to the race and was worried it would carry over. It did, a bit. Legs felt flat on the initial 3 road miles, but then I found I could climb ok once on trail and I moved from about 10th to 4th by mile 13, well behind the lead pack of 3 runners. The Toll Road was muddy and had lots of flowing water but minimal snow. Then we started towards Mt Mitchell on a trail with intermittent snow- I had a bit of a low patch and tried to just stay relaxed, moving, and save my energy for the downhill. The last climb to the summit was nuts- it was 900 feet up in 1.4 miles over technical trails that are most comparable to an ice skating rink. Seriously icy- took me 30 min. Paul flew by me here. I summited and enjoyed the views for a minute, then ran down the road back to the Blue Ridge Parkway (normal singletrack path closed due to ice). I was surprised to see previous race leader Jason Bryant just ahead - he started walking down the road, never a good sign. I then played leapfrog with Paul for the next 2 hrs, battling it out for the final podium spot- I passed him, then stopped for a pit stop, then passed him again but he stayed just behind me. I yielded again with another pit stop at mile 31, then pressed hard to catch again, finally passing him at mile 34 just after the 23% grade paved road leading into Montreat. I put a few minutes on him in the last 5k. It was fun to race against him, though- it's been a long time since I had such a back and forth battle for an entire race. I finished the 37.5 miles with 4800 ft climbing in 5:24. Dane finished in CR 4:46, Shaun Pope was just under 5 hrs. Even if I had felt better, I couldn't have caught either of them.
Had a good time eating food and talking to some of the great runners before heading home to my supportive wife and kids.
I've been awake since 3:45 am and it's almost 10 pm. I'm going to bed now. After some ice cream, of course.