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  1. #1
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    Best 100 miler for a beginner

    I keep telling myself that I am going to do a 100 mile race, and I can't seem to shake it from my mind... I have done BT Epic 2 years in a row (~55 miles and 5k feet of climbing). This year I DNF'd due to a blown knee, but 2016 was actually a pretty good year (finished in 6.5 hours on a fixed gear 29er... don't ask).


    I signed up for Marji Gesick 2017 as soon as the reg opened, and very shortly into the summer I realized that I had made a huge mistake. I didn't do a ton of reading before signing up and came to the conclusion that doing a race like that is not a good intro into the endurance scene.


    What are some solid 100 mile races that are good for getting your feet wet?

  2. #2
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    I guess I should mention that region doesn't really matter... outside of the US would be hard, but I travel to ride new places all the time so I am open to most places.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DualRollers View Post
    I guess I should mention that region doesn't really matter... outside of the US would be hard, but I travel to ride new places all the time so I am open to most places.
    The Flagstaff Barnburner would be a good one for you; the course is relatively flat and non-technical so you can concentrate on just going the distance. The race has a cool vibe and you can camp at the site for the weekend if you want to. It's also a Leadville qualifier so you can skip the lottery and get a decent starting position if you're into that.

  4. #4
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    Subscribing. I have the same idea in my head, though my fitness is far from good enough right now, so I want to work my way up to a few 50-60 milers before eventually doing a 100. Excited to hear about more options!
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DualRollers View Post
    What are some solid 100 mile races that are good for getting your feet wet?
    One great way to get your feet wet in the world of endurance mtb is trying some of the amazing free events. My friend Matt T created the New Mexico Endurance Series many years ago, then moved to Colorado and created the Colorado Endurance Series. Admirers of the NMES from Arizona created the Arizona Endurance Series.

    The idea is very grass roots. Have an idea for a great route in your back 40? Put on an event. The events are not just one thing, not just dirt hundos although you can find those. Each of them is hosted by someone, maybe hosting that event is all they do. Maybe they host others. Some have marked courses, some have maps and queue sheets, some GPX files for route finding. There are no prizes or podiums, just bragging rights.

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    I am curious about this as well. I am just getting started in XCM.

    This was my first year racing, first year training and I wanted a big huge goal for motivation. I decided on attempting the Butte 100. I ended up finishing the on my heavy steel hard tail (it’s so much more about mental than gear imho) in a little over 12hrs of riding and now I’m hooked.

    I feel like the most helpful race I did this year that showed me I could really finish a 100 was the Lolo12hr. Each lap was ~10miles/2200ft and I completed 8. I highly recommend the short lap format for building confidence because the course becomes more familiar with each lap and you’re always pretty close to camp versus some of the more remote section of the 100. The laps let me keep my mind engaged and busy with - ‘this section was easy’, ‘or it’s only a short push then a nice rest’.

    All that said I still have no idea how the different 100s compare. The Marji Gesick sounds insane for example. The next one I am thinking of trying is the Pierre’s Hole...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdcadbiker View Post
    The Flagstaff Barnburner would be a good one for you; the course is relatively flat and non-technical so you can concentrate on just going the distance. The race has a cool vibe and you can camp at the site for the weekend if you want to. It's also a Leadville qualifier so you can skip the lottery and get a decent starting position if you're into that.
    This!

  8. #8
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    Lumberjack 100 in Manistee Michigan is a great starter 100. I raced it for the first time this year. The course is not technical and it's 3 33mile laps. Manned aid station at the back and you are allowed to set up pit areas at the start finish. This allows you to come by a place to re-stock every 15-16 miles.
    Unlike BT Epic, there is one rock on the entire course. It's very sandy soil, so that really zapps you after a while, but the place is 99% rideable. I don't think I'll ever even try fire tower climb.
    It's a very doable race and I'm glad it was my first mtb century.

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  9. #9
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    Dude - I'd just be of the school of go to whatever is closest. If it's halfway decent supported so you don't DNF because of nutrition, just go for it.

    Traveling a long distance for a 100miler and then DNF'ing or something would be a real bummer (unless you just planned it to coincide with a vacation in the area).

    And don't ride fixed or SS for a 100miler. Or stiff. Use equipment to make your life easier if you're worried about stuff like not finishing.

  10. #10
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    Small ring in front makes it easier. Small ring in back makes it harder. That blows my mind.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter85 View Post
    Dude - I'd just be of the school of go to whatever is closest.
    This.

    For the Butte 100 there are ride reports that claim how easy or hard different parts are and it is tough to know if you would feel the same way. Having the race in the same area meant that I was used to the climate, dirt, and elevation. Even though I didn’t get to pre-ride the whole course none of it was far outside my comfort zone since I ride similar trails all the time.

  12. #12
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    I would second the Lumberjack 100. If you can do the BT Epic, you can do the Lumberjack. Just to give some perspective, my BT Epic time was 4:05 for ~50 miles, and my Lumberjack time on a singlespeed was 7 hours for ~100 miles. The Lumberjack trails are flowy and fast, nothing like the BT Epic. I always say that my body feels more beat up after the BT Epic than it does for the Lumberjack.
    [

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    Nothing like starting at the top, flowby! Nice job on the Butte 100 (toughest one for me, living at 500 feet).

    OP, take a look at winning times of various 100s to get an general idea of their difficulty. For example, my young friend and team mate won Butte this year, but I think it took him over 10 hours.

    Conversely, the winning time at the High Cascades in Bend was 7.5 hours, and I think the Lumberjack 100 might be even faster.

    Have fun out there!
    Whining is not a strategy.

  14. #14
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    I did Pierre's Hole as my first 100. DNF'd it in 2016, as I didn't prepare well enough for the climbing involved - where I live, the biggest climb is around ten minutes, which is much shorter than some of the climbing at PH. Also, wasn't mentally prepared for the altitude. I.e. that it sucks going from 600m to 2500m. Finished, slowly, this year. And now I'm hooked.

    PH100 is a great course, mostly singletrack, and nothing technical. If I can ride it, anyone can. And amazing scenery. Awesome people. I think it's relatively small compared with the other races - there were maybe 50 people doing the 100, but the 100k and 50k sold out.

  15. #15
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    I'm hoping to do SM100 for my 1st in 2018. It's certainly not flat, but it is very well supported (8 aid stations). The winning time is typically under 8hrs. This year, the 1st place SS even broke 8hrs.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by notso View Post
    I'm hoping to do SM100 for my 1st in 2018. It's certainly not flat, but it is very well supported (8 aid stations). The winning time is typically under 8hrs. This year, the 1st place SS even broke 8hrs.
    I've done the SM100 a bunch and I would say its not the best for a first timer..yes its well supported but a real-deal MTB ride. I think you have to be a very competent MTB'r ...but then again the guy that i did it with this year did it on a CX bike...so there ya go.
    I would say Leadville is a good one if you:
    a. can get in
    b. altitude does not effect ya that much
    c. are ok with climbing
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  17. #17
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    The Hammerhead 100 in Ocala FL would be pretty doable for a first 100 I'd say. Not a ton of elevation, 2 sag stops per 25 mile lap plus your own sag at the start/finish, just flowing through some of north central FL's rolling hills. I did the 50 last year for the first time and finished just under 4 hours. www.goneriding.com will have more info, usually sometime in April.
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mackdhagen View Post
    I've done the SM100 a bunch and I would say its not the best for a first timer..yes its well supported but a real-deal MTB ride. I think you have to be a very competent MTB'r ...but then again the guy that i did it with this year did it on a CX bike...so there ya go.
    I would say Leadville is a good one if you:
    a. can get in
    b. altitude does not effect ya that much
    c. are ok with climbing
    The SM100 start line is about an hour from my house and we ride in the area frequently. That's a huge part of my choice to have it be my first (maybe only).

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    One great way to get your feet wet in the world of endurance mtb is trying some of the amazing free events. My friend Matt T created the New Mexico Endurance Series many years ago, then moved to Colorado and created the Colorado Endurance Series. Admirers of the NMES from Arizona created the Arizona Endurance Series.

    The idea is very grass roots. Have an idea for a great route in your back 40? Put on an event. The events are not just one thing, not just dirt hundos although you can find those. Each of them is hosted by someone, maybe hosting that event is all they do. Maybe they host others. Some have marked courses, some have maps and queue sheets, some GPX files for route finding. There are no prizes or podiums, just bragging rights.

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    New Mexico Endurance Series - New Mexico Endurance Series
    https://rockyroad5050.wordpress.com/

    Over the years I've met some amazing people and seen some amazing places around various Endurance Series events.
    Do you want a lap race or one big loop. I started my "endurance" racing by first doing the Whiskey 50 a few years back. The started doing all the AES (Arizona Endurance Series) rides I could. I love them. However they are all big single loops self supported. No course markings not bottle drops no sag. You are on your own in often very remote places. Great fun, but not like events like Flagstaff Barn burner where you have 4 laps of 26 mile course that is marked and has Aid Stations and given 4 laps you can re-fuel at you pit stop.

    So depends what you are looking for in your 100 miler? Just bag 100 miles? Racing hard for 100 miles? Backcountry endurance?

    BTW... I have never raced a "100 miler", but I have done 100 mile rides (3 times so far) and raced Arizona Trail 300 bikepack race as well as AES rides ranging from 46 miles to 70 miles.

    The AES rides were in fact perfect to work up to an epic like Arizona Trail 300.
    Joe
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  20. #20
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    Thanks everyone. I am going to look into these Michigan races and a couple others mentioned here... Barn Burner doesn't sound like much fun after reading on the even page. Sounds like it's mostly fire roads and I think it even described it as a "roadies mountain bike race". I am definitely no roadie...


    As for doing the one closest to me, the Ozark Trail 100 is the only one that I would consider "close" and that is supposed to be a mammoth from what I hear.

  21. #21
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    Any opinions on the Mohican 100 as a first timer hundo? Sounds like an awesome event from what I've read. It's definitely on my radar. I'd be curious also about the Couhutta 100 as that's closer to my neck of the woods. Sounds like that one is like 70% gravel and 30% trail, which might be more doable for me but is less appealing than one with more trail.
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  22. #22
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    I did the High Cascades 100 a few years ago. Has 10k of climbing but the elevation isn't very high. I never felt it coming from Texas. Also, not very technical. Well run as well.
    Small ring in front makes it easier. Small ring in back makes it harder. That blows my mind.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    One great way to get your feet wet in the world of endurance mtb is trying some of the amazing free events.
    I agree with Tom on most things endurance, but I'll have to respectfully disagree here. If you are doing your first 100, doing a full blown event with a full suite of drop bags and aid stations is the way to go. Not having to worry about navigation is also nice. You can add those challenges after you've done a few and aren't as worried about 'just' finishing.
    All his points about them being great events are valid, I just wouldn't start there.

  24. #24
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    yet another Lumberjack 100 vote here. It is easy to do logistically which for a first 100 is huge. No need to overthink things set a cooler/food etc out at the start/finish and use the SAG stop halfway thru the laps as its stocked with great options. The hardest part for most is going out on that 3rd lap. They typically reverse course directions each year now to mix things up.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by euro-trash View Post
    I agree with Tom on most things endurance, but I'll have to respectfully disagree here. If you are doing your first 100, doing a full blown event with a full suite of drop bags and aid stations is the way to go...
    Yeah, you're probably right. Unless you're already dialed as a route-finding ninja, that could make the day lots harder. And self-support. Some do have aid stations, but sometimes it's quite a while between.

    Yeah. Probably stick to an organized event for getting started.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by heartland View Post
    Any opinions on the Mohican 100 as a first timer hundo? Sounds like an awesome event from what I've read. It's definitely on my radar. I'd be curious also about the Couhutta 100 as that's closer to my neck of the woods. Sounds like that one is like 70% gravel and 30% trail, which might be more doable for me but is less appealing than one with more trail.
    A very long time ago Cohutta was my first dirt 100, then a few weeks later I did Mohican. Wilderness and Shenandoah completed my four for a series finish that year, several NUE series finishes (including singlespeed) and many 100's later I still enjoy pushing myself in the races when the opportunity arises.

    Cohutta or Mohican would be a good race to test yourself on a dirty 100 miler. I think the Cohutta course has changed a bunch since I did it though.
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  27. #27
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    Cohutta is fairly easy (for a 100 miler) IF the weather is good. Seems like it rains there alot though. Mohican is also doable, interesting trails make the time go pretty quick. Id say either of these would be great starters. The 100k of both of these events are awesome, capture the best single track with less road.

  28. #28
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    Lutsen 99er

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by notso View Post
    I'm hoping to do SM100 for my 1st in 2018. It's certainly not flat, but it is very well supported (8 aid stations). The winning time is typically under 8hrs. This year, the 1st place SS even broke 8hrs.
    SM100 would be a good one. There's a fair bit of elevation gain, but much of it is on fireroad or doubletrack, so you can sit and spin at whatever pace works. The loops are laid out so bailing out is pretty easy, should you get part way through. Sub-10 is the target for many fast weekend warriors. Bishop has the record at a bit under 7 hours. My first attempt was 11:25 and I blew up on the death climb and party-paced it for the final 25 miles.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregmerz View Post
    Lutsen 99er
    Mild derail, but isn't this race infamous for bringing the rain?
    Whining is not a strategy.

  31. #31
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    Lumberjack.

    Easiest one in the midwest. Almost all singletrack, no rocks, less hilly than BT epic. Its a 3 lap race, so if you feel you cant make the whole distance, you can bail after 2 laps. Its also fun.
    Registration usually early in the year, race is in June around fathers day
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by heartland View Post
    Any opinions on the Mohican 100 as a first timer hundo? Sounds like an awesome event from what I've read. It's definitely on my radar. I'd be curious also about the Couhutta 100 as that's closer to my neck of the woods. Sounds like that one is like 70% gravel and 30% trail, which might be more doable for me but is less appealing than one with more trail.
    This was my first ever hundo, so it is doable. Well run event, lots of fun. It is fairly painful though, and expect some amount of hike-a-bike.
    Grit, spit, and a whole lot of duct tape!

  33. #33
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    I'd vote Lumberjack with the exception being a race close enough that pre-riding most of the course is a viable option. Wilderness 101 is another one that might be a good cherry popper.

    IMO, the hardest part of a 100 isn't the physical aspect, it's the mental aspect. SM100 has the Death Climb, which is named that way for a reason. CM100 is a brutal tech fest that gradually whittles away at your mental resolve. I don't have knowledge of Mohican or Couhutta, but I'd say look for a race that has the top guys finishing in low 6hrs that isn't known for a spectacularly hard aspect. (e.g. Leadville has altitude, SM100 has Lynn Trail and Death Climb, etc.) If "you'll need to HAB a good bit" is anywhere in the race description, keep looking.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by DualRollers View Post
    Best 100 miler for a beginner?
    Leadville 100

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by DualRollers View Post
    Thanks everyone. I am going to look into these Michigan races and a couple others mentioned here... Barn Burner doesn't sound like much fun after reading on the even page. Sounds like it's mostly fire roads and I think it even described it as a "roadies mountain bike race". I am definitely no roadie...


    As for doing the one closest to me, the Ozark Trail 100 is the only one that I would consider "close" and that is supposed to be a mammoth from what I hear.
    Ive done Mohican 3 times now, and it was my first 100miler, an awesome race (also ran an Ultra there) well organized some decent hike a bike climbs and technical sections, 11,000’ worth of climbing though. I found when I’d start to get tired of trails I would hit the road and when bored of the road I’d be back on trail - a nice mix.

    Also did the Ozark Trail 100... I strongly suggest against doing that as your first. I think it was my 3rd and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t finish but then I consider all the factors and how far I made it (about 80miles) it wasn’t a bad effort. Lots of climbs, lots and lots of sharp rocks - I believe I passed easily 10 flats in the first few miles ... but was worse were all the water crossings, if it is a cold day you will be cold all the time due to getting your feet constantly wet.

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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by heartland View Post
    Any opinions on the Mohican 100 as a first timer hundo? Sounds like an awesome event from what I've read. It's definitely on my radar. I'd be curious also about the Couhutta 100 as that's closer to my neck of the woods. Sounds like that one is like 70% gravel and 30% trail, which might be more doable for me but is less appealing than one with more trail.
    I did the Mohican 100 this year. It is not "easy" with 10K of climbing. There are only a few longish climbs but one is either going up or down all day. There is quite a bit of punchy single track in the first half which is again not easy. It is a very well organized race with excellent aid stations and volunteers. Also, in June so there is over 12 hours of daylight to get yourself across the finish line. Highly recommended, but definitely not an easy gravel grinder.

  37. #37
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    I have done several NUE's. I think the Lumberjack was the least tough physically - but the 3 laps can make it mentally challenging. The Wilderness 101 is tougher (and very tough at the end). Mohican is a good one - as Osteo said, good mix of single track and dirt roads. I don't recommend the SM100 as a starter --- more climbing than all the others, and longer climbs.

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    Great posts everyone, thank you as I am hoping to catch another event this year.
    I did the lumberjack as my first 100 ever this year and keep in mind I was severly undertrained and at race time easily 25 pounds heavier than i should have been. It is a fantastic race and would absolutely recommend it. Finished it in 12:27 and almost last but that finish was freaking a huge victory as the oct prior the furthest I had ridden in one sitting was 30 or so.
    I slacked off on my training over the summer and burned up at Marji and was flat out broken and beaten at mile 52 or 100. I would reccomend that race after pre riding what the UP has offer as I am not sure how I didn’t get hurt, I crashed more in one day than in ten years.

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