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Race Team Member Krissy Moehl Unthaws from her Mount Mitchell Challenge Endeavor

Join Rock/Creek as we share the exciting first hand experiences by Rock/Creek sponsored ultrarunner Krissy Moehl from last weekend’s Mount Mitchell Challenge in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Krissy battled the gusts of sub zero winds as she summited through the mountain elements and had a few heart warming (or should we say, head warming) moments along the way. Rock/Creek is tremendously proud of her early season accomplishment as First Female Finisher Overall in the Challenge with a time of 5:10:38. Below is Krissy’s report from the day.
Photo from: John Fletcher/Citizen-Times“I woke race morning surrounded by pink and purple, buried in the comfort of princess print flannel sheets. My quick trip east to run the Mt Mitchell Challenge brought me in Friday early evening in time for a stop at the local grocery, dinner at my gracious hosts’ house in Asheville, NC and just enough time to buzz over to the prerace meeting in Black Mountain. Race director Jay Cuwen had definitely faced some challenges in the previous couple of weeks with the intense winter weather the southeast has been experiencing. Mt Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi was no exception and the usual trail route up the mountain was inaccessible. Fortunately with some help the crew was able gain access to the parkway which gave runners a path to the snowy and windy summit on a bit shorter route.
Saturday morning came quick as my body was still on PST and didn’t allow me to go to sleep Friday night… the iPhone was also a bit of a distraction. I convinced myself out from between the comfy sheets and into the pile of clothes I’d packed to keep me warm during the run. Coconut yogurt & granola in hand we headed out the door and back into the sleepy town of Black Mountain. I rarely arrive to a starting line early and was surprised to be one of the first. This race definitely has a local feel, most participants can probably walk to the start.
With about 30 minutes to go-time the starting area on a side street in the middle of town started to fill with bundled runners and supportive crew people there to take the extra down layers seconds before Jay sent us off. Marathoners and Challengers start together and weave through town and up the steep, paved street to meet up with the double track trail that would eventually take us to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The double track is rocky and this year was covered with stretches and patches of snow and ice.
The night before, Coral and I stopped at Home Depot and found 3/8 inch hex head screws and with the help of her husband Scott’s power drill and Jeff Browning’s blog post I was able to add the perfect amount of traction to my Vasque Mindbenders (Mindbenders will be available for retail soon!) to keep me on my feet. At the parkway Marathoners turned around and Challengers continued along the parkway and up to the summit. The wind picked up and when I went to pull my beanie out of my waist line I realized it was gone. I added the Patagonia R1 layer but the cold gusts were chilly enough to give me an instant headache. The guys around me were also adding more layers and we dressed and continued to move up the plowed road. My ears were so cold, I stopped to ask a gentleman in a search-and-rescue truck if he had something to cover my ears. He let me borrow his cap with ear flaps (as captured in the summit photos on the Asheville Citizens Times website) it was perfect. How would I return it to him? He said he’d be waiting right there.
Photo taken by: John Fletcher/Citizen-Times
There were protected areas along the way and we had to enjoy the views when we weren’t shielding our faces. We were also climbing into the clouds and the visibility was diminishing quickly. The volunteers along the way were bundled up and super supportive. Once we turned off of the road and on to the last couple hundred yards to the summit the views were minimal, but tagging the summit sign before having my bib signed off was a comforting moment, all downhill from here!
We doubled back and got to cheer each other on, those headed to the summit and those on the way back down. I saw my trail angel and returned his hat. Once back at the parkway-trail junction we started to catch up to some of the marathoners that were headed back down. My water bottle had froze on the way down and I hadn’t been able to drink for a bit. The double track was rocky and rough and I could feel my legs cramping. I was thankful to down a bit of water and more Endurolytes at the aid station. I had to slow the pace a bit to try to get back on top of my hydration. Chewing on the bottle’s nipple to break up the ice only allowed for a dribble of water. It made for beating on my quads and tightening of my hamstrings which led to not feeling as agile on the rocky, icy terrain. But like life, you have to keep moving forward and figuring out what to do to feel better. I kept drinking the little I could from my bottle and gulping at aid stations and listening to my new toy, the Suunto T6c, count off the miles.
The final descent paralleled the road we ascended on a fun trail for a bit. The soft terrain felt good on my beaten muscles, but as we neared town we popped back on the streets and made our way to the Lake Tomahawk Park. Once there we took a lap around the lake with the finish line in sight the whole way around.
It ended up being a great run on a whirlwind trip. I got to visit with Coral and meet her great family and appreciate all of the time we got to spend. Matt and Natalie Sims (fellow RockCreek.com team members and who hosted me at Stump Jump last fall) were there and we got to chat a bit at the prerace and hanging around after we all finished. The post race dinner at Black Mountain’s White Horse was a great gathering of the participants in a fun venue. The Black Mountain Marathon and Mt. Mitchell Challenge are great events, hard to get into, super local feel with a lot of care and attention to detail. I’d love to return to run the full course and see the trails Mt. Mitchell has to offer.”
Great work Krissy- We look forward to a strong season, and more fun experiences. ~Rock/Creek
Read more about Krissy’s previous race memories and future events on her Blog “Life in Motion” >
Here’s Krissy’s Gear List for the event:
CLOTHING:
Patagonia:
-Long Sleeve Capilene 2
-All Weather Tights
-Midweight Hiking Crew socks
-R1 Pullover
-Nine Trails Jacket (tied around my waist, never needed)
-lightweight wool gloves
Vasque:
-Mindbenders – available at Rock/Creek!
Nathan:
-windshield gloves
-Thermal Quickdraw bottle
Suunto:
-T6c
NUTRITION:
Green Foods:
-Green Magma mixed with Emergen-c before and after race
Clif:
-Z-bars
-Shot
Hammer Nutrition:
-Endurolytes
First Endurance:
-Optygen – 3 pills once a day
-Ultragen – recovery drink after race