images     February 22, 2014   The Asheville resort cabins at Willow Winds provide a great place to stay for runners in the Black Mountain Marathon and Mt. Mitchell Challenge. Our luxury amenities include hot tubs to soak in and we are just a short drive away from the starting line in Black Mountain. This year’s races are being held Feb. 22. Both races take runners from the historic town of Black Mountain, elevation 2,360 feet, to the Blue Ridge Parkway, elevation 5,340 feet, via trails and old dirt roads. From there, marathon runners turn around and return, while challenge runners continue to the top of Mt. Mitchell, which at 6,684 feet is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. images-2And yes, they do this in the middle of winter! For those of you not crazy or fit enough to subject yourself to such torture, consider visiting the town of Black Mountain nonetheless. This charming little place sits in a beautiful mountain valley that is home to several religious retreat centers that allow visitors to hike their scenic trails. The historic downtown is home to shops, restaurants, art galleries and the Swannanoa Valley Museum, a small but rich treasure of local lore and history. Black Mountain is also home to two popular Asheville microbreweries, Pisgah Brewing Company and Lookout Brewing Company. The nearby Camp Rockmont is also host to the popular L.E.A.F. Festival, which is held every May and October.