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Matt Ragland April 25, 2012 TWEET COMMENTS 8

Run an Ultra Off the Couch

From zero to 40 in six weeks

We were sitting in the restaurant, waiting on our Thai food, when ...

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Photo by Colby Rabon

We were sitting in the restaurant, waiting on our Thai food, when my friend Dan spoke up. “I’m going to have to drop out of the [Mount Mitchell] Challenge this year. My hamstring just won’t hold up for the big runs. Kills me.”

My ears immediately perked up. The Mount Mitchell Challenge (The Challenge for short) is a 40-mile eastern epic that climbs from Black Mountain, North Carolina, to the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Rockies in mid-February. Last year I ran the accompanying marathon, which, in comparison, is like a one-mile fun run.

I missed registration this year. When it opened on October 2nd, I was three miles deep in Tennessee’s StumpJump 50K. That probably didn’t even matter, though, because both races filled up in less than 15 minutes. Besides, at the end of StumpJump I was too fed up with running ultras to care. However, the "fed up" feeling did not last. Since StumpJump, I had run less than 40 miles total. But, for some reason, when Dan said he was out, I immediately wanted in. I asked Dan to check with the race director and see if I could take his slot. I could. The problem: The Challenge was only six weeks away.

Running 40 miles up and down a mountain requires a great deal of physical and mental strength. Could I develop that strength in such a short amount of time? I didn’t know, but I wanted to try.

I simply wanted to see if I could just complete the course, as it is notoriously treacherous, with sub-freezing temps, snow and often, hurricane-force winds.

 



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