By Madyson Coggins
May 16, 2016 marked the 41st anniversary of the Assault on Mt. Mitchell, which also happened to be the first for me.
It was extremely special and inspiring for me last year because while I was riding to Marion, my father was on the pursuit to the top of Mitchell to accomplish a goal of breaking seven hours. Once I finished in Marion, my sister and I hopped on the bus in order to watch my dad finish at the top.
(The ride to the top of Mount Marion is 75 miles 7,500 feet of climbing, while the route to the top of Mount Mitchell is 102.7 miles and just the 10,357 feet! The field of 1,000 riders starts in Spartanburg, SC.)
About three and a half years ago my dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and after gaining control of the cancer, he was able to achieve this goal of his. Seeing all that my dad had gone through and then watching him defeat Mt. Mitchell in 6 hours and 49 minutes truly inspired me to tackle the mountain with him in 2016.
Once May rolled around this year, I wasn't sure I was in good enough climbing shape to make it to the top. As usual, my dad was there encouraging me and squashed every fear I had in not completing the ride.
The start on that Monday morning was early and the temperature was perfect, which foreshadowed the weather for the rest of the day. My dad and I started out in what was a very large front group.
After trucking along for a while, Dad got a flat right before Bill's Hill. It was a little more difficult finding a group to work together with than we had imagined, so once we got to Marion, I was feeling a little spent. We refueled and hit the road ready for the fun to begin.
With a few pit stops and some stretching along the way, 8 hours and 4 minutes later we were crossing the finish line.
Madyson Coggins is a student at Clemson University studying bioengineering who participates on the triathlon team there.