Assault On BlackRock VII "Run. Walk. Crawl."... or just hike.

In addition to the marathon at Biltmore, prior to the stent procedure I was also registered for the Assault On BlackRock, a 7 mile trail “run” with over 2700 feet of elevation gain, all of it in the first half of the race. I was told by my doctors not to do any “strenuous exercise” for at least 10 days.

This was on day 11.

I also had no intention of “running” the Assault either, so it wouldn’t be near as strenuous.

There is a 101 minute challenge aspect to the assault… if you finish within an hour and 41 minutes, you get a belt buckle. I first attempted the Assault V in 2015 and I missed the time cutoff by a full 12 minutes. I would have been a lot closer, but ended up walking down the last 1-1.5 miles after my knees gave out. Descending BlackRock is nearly as hard on the body, if not harder, than ascending it. (It’s much harder aerobically going up, but the legs take a beating trying to put on the brakes in what amounts to a “controlled fall” down the mountain.

In any case, there was no way I was in any shape for an attempt at beating the time cutoff, so I decided I’d show up, get my t-shirt, and hike the 7 miles. So I invited Monte to join me, and that’s what we did.

And we had a blast. The morning was cold and it had snowed overnight, with just a little bit remaining up above 4000′ elevation.

We got a good cardio workout going up, especially on the muddy upper climb to the peak. Then we had a slick and slippery scramble back down the same upper trail, and at one point I decided that walking down slowly was actually harder than running, so I accelerated things just a bit… it was super fun slippin’ and sliding down thru the mud!

We then hiked more slowly down the rest of the way. And didn’t even finish last! It was the first registered event that Monte had ever done, and our first of what I hope will be many together.

Afterward we had a terrific vegetarian lunch at Guadalupe Cafe in downtown Sylva and a couple flights at Innovation Brewing.

Great day out – and next year I’m going after that damned buckle!