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  1. #1
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    Toughest Endurance Race

    Tough... difficult... epic... whatever.. Consider what you want (technical, length, duration, level of competition, weather, percent of racers who finish, etc.), but no fixed criteria... based on your own perceptions.

    Basically, what is the most challenging race out there for those who like to go long on dirt.

    I'll put out the third stage of the OMD in Portugal this year. OH MEU DEUS :: TRAIL BIKE :: NOTÍCIAS

    August in Portugal with 500km (Euro-miles?),13,000m of vertical and a 66h time limit. Mostly fire roads with some singletrack and a few sections of pavement. First aid station was 90km in... I didn't finish the joint, so I hope they make it harder next year... I don't want any of that "well last year was tougher" after I roll the finish in 2013.

    This thread has probably already been covered, but it is time for a refresher.

  2. #2
    zrm
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    All lot of people would say either CDTR or CTR. Stage races are their own animal and can have difficulty factors based on different reasoning - terrain, typical weather/conditions, time in the saddle, etc. As to one day events there are a of of tough 100 milers out there. The Vapor trail adds another 125 miles onto an already tough course. My home town 100 miler the Breck 100 is considered one of the hardest 100 milers but like I said, there are a lot of tough races out there and there's going to be a lot of opinions/favorites.

  3. #3
    Wrench
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    I'd love to do the Breck 100.

    However, the hardest in terms of logistics and endurance is TD.

    But I'm biased.

  4. #4
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    Tour Divide.
    CyclingCentralVa.org

  5. #5
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    I think for one day, Breck 100. For stage, got to be the TDR.
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  6. #6
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    Iditarod?

  7. #7
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asbury View Post
    I think for one day, Breck 100. For stage, got to be the TDR.
    TDR isn't really a stage race. A stage race is a series of individual races with starts and finishes. TDR and CTR are long point to point races. It' my understanding that TDR isn't necessarily the hardest from a terrain point of view - it's mostly dirt roads (not that that is easy, it's just not 2000+ miles of rocky singletrack). What sets TDR apart is the distance and isolation and all that comes with that.

    If the CTR was the same distance as the TDR.........

  8. #8
    Wrench
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    I agree, ZRM. From a terrain point of view, Tour Divide doesn't compare. Still slightly more complicated than Leadville (Hadn't seen leadville pooped on yet in the thread, felt like it was time.)

    However, the distance (2700+ miles) the distance per day the winners go (170+ miles) and the isolation/logistics needed are the tough part. When you have 200 miles of absolutely nothing, and the only place you have to stock up is an old gas station? Situation gets real, real fast.

    That being said, I'd love to do a stage race.

  9. #9
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by FNFAL View Post
    That being said, I'd love to do a stage race.
    Breck Epic just finished up. Great race.

  10. #10
    Wrench
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Breck Epic just finished up. Great race.
    I know. I've been following it. Sadly, a snapped crankarm on my SS puts me out of the mountain game until Tuesday. Building a new race bike currently paycheck to paycheck. All I have is my Cyclocross bike in road form.

  11. #11
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    One Day: The original Butte 100, with well over 19,000 feet of climbing.

    More Days: Arrowhead 135, with potential camping at minus 40F.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  12. #12
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    TDR and La Ruta are brutally tough but for 100miler, Breck, Vapor and Wilderness are on the Top 3 for me.

  13. #13
    TEAM TOPEAK - ERGON
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    From my experience, my Top 3 are...
    1. Colorado Trail Race
    2. Yak-Attack
    3. Vapor Trail 125

  14. #14
    ccm
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    Iditabike, for a mega distance race
    if you can't walk or bike, you die. when on your own between check points you don't have any help and no options for bailing out

    Northshore Overlord 6 Hour, for a shorter endurance race
    ride as many different steep rocky rooty technical trails as you can in 6 hours. The moment you lose energy and focus and become sloppy, you are done (won't kill you though unless you are really stupid or have too much ego)

    For most of the other races I've tried, the cut off times are so generous, they aren't that hard to finish if you are fit and well prepared (ie, you are more than just a weekend warrior)
    Some ultra high altitude races might be tough too, because altitude sickness can kill you

  15. #15
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    Dirty Kanza 200 has to be in consideration. Just a gravel grinder but still a tough endurance race.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by seabiZcut View Post
    Dirty Kanza 200 has to be in consideration. Just a gravel grinder but still a tough endurance race.
    I finished that one, and am crying myself to sleep at night thinking of Trans-Iowa next april.

    DK200 is a good intro to Ultra-Endurance type stuff.

  17. #17
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    Trans-Iowa is something I do not even want to consider....

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cholopolitan View Post
    Tough... difficult... epic... whatever.. Consider what you want (technical, length, duration, level of competition, weather, percent of racers who finish, etc.), but no fixed criteria... based on your own perceptions.

    Basically, what is the most challenging race out there for those who like to go long on dirt.

    I'll put out the third stage of the OMD in Portugal this year. OH MEU DEUS :: TRAIL BIKE :: NOTÍCIAS

    August in Portugal with 500km (Euro-miles?),13,000m of vertical and a 66h time limit. Mostly fire roads with some singletrack and a few sections of pavement. First aid station was 90km in... I didn't finish the joint, so I hope they make it harder next year... I don't want any of that "well last year was tougher" after I roll the finish in 2013.

    This thread has probably already been covered, but it is time for a refresher.
    Transportugal garmin s also brutal, long stages, 4000mts climb every day, more than 100kms, and very short times, ah!, no support beatiful views, best food and hotels, will try again next year

  19. #19
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    I have never done a 100 miler, but I tried the P111K in Pisgah last May. The winning time for this 69 mile race was 6:57, which is longer than most of the winners' times for 100 milers. The hard part of this one doesn't even start until you already have 50 miles in your legs and then you have a 3,000 ft. climb with multiple HAB sections.

    I didn't finish, along with about 25% of the other starters. Maybe not THE toughest race out there, but it sure kicked my butt.
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  20. #20
    Daniel the Dog
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    This race makes most of us look like little girls:

    Badwater Ultramarathon: 135 miles in 130-degree heat - CNN

  21. #21
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    Trans Iowa is the hardest race I have done so far. Easily twice as hard as DK200. Chalk it up to brutal weather and terrain, navigation, time cuts at checkpoints, and sleep deprivation.

    I hope to go back for V9 next year.

  22. #22
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    Zuma

    Montezumas revenge.. like the breck epic just held in one day or one 24 hour period..Common, you get to climb a fourteener or two as i recall, at night no less...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cholopolitan View Post
    Tough... difficult... epic... whatever..
    That's all up to you. The route does not make a race tough. Tough comes simply from pushing yourself to (and beyond) your limits. This can happen in the local short track race or out on the Tour Divide.

    You can also go easy at the local short track trace or on TDR.

    Tough is what you bring not what the course brings.

  24. #24
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    ~1 day (dirt): Vapor Trail.
    ~1 day (snow): Arrowhead.

    ~3 day: Grand Loop.

    ~5 day (dirt): CTR.
    ~5 day (snow): Idita 350

    ~More = Idita 1000.

  25. #25
    A guy on a bike Moderator
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    This is a tough question to answer, since not many people have raced in all of the potential candidates for "hardest endurance race." Mike C. is probably the most qualified guy to respond so far, since he's done most (all?) of the biggies.

    I also like the way that Mike breaks down the races by the number of days. I've only raced the CTR and ITTed Kokopelli's--and they are actually surprisingly difficult to compare. The CTR is obviously a LOT longer and far more committing, which would make it seem like it should be harder. But the all-out effort required to complete Koko quickly is pretty damn challenging. Apples and oranges?

    I find it revealing that two of the three on Jeff's list are ones that he wasn't able to complete. The unslayed beast is always the most feared. I wonder if his list will change when he knocks these two off!

  26. #26
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    Tour de Burg...

    You have no idea.
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  27. #27
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    Surprised the Pisgah 111k hasn't been mentioned

    Suffering per mile, I would imagine this one ranks near the top. Tis burly.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucid View Post
    Suffering per mile, I would imagine this one ranks near the top. Tis burly.
    As the guy who came up with the course, I asked Eric if we should back it off in 2013 (having just finished totally brutalized).

    He said, "nope."
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by teamdicky View Post
    Tour de Burg...

    You have no idea.
    When you going to come out and ride the Vapor Trail 125, ya Sally?

    (Just kidding, I know your real name is Angela).
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    When you going to come out and ride the Vapor Trail 125, ya Sally?

    (Just kidding, I know your real name is Angela).
    Can I get UCI points at the VT125? Wanna upgrade my license to Über-Pro.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by teamdicky View Post
    Can I get UCI points at the VT125? Wanna upgrade my license to Über-Pro.
    Hmm, sorry no.

    You can score points toward being identified as a reckless person, and I believe the Ministry of Silly Walks will give your application for enrollment stronger consideration as a Vapor Trail 125 finisher.

    EDIT: Almost forgot! This year you can get one of these in your goodie bag:

    Zukes for Dogs - Hip Action, Mini Naturals, Z-Bones, Jerky Naturals, Power Bones, Z-Filets

    A sweet custom wool hat.

    Free Red Bull at aid stations.
    Last edited by TomP; 08-30-2012 at 10:23 AM.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  32. #32
    mutaullyassuredsuffering
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    For one day on Dirt, I don't think it gets harder than Vapor Trail 125. Breck 100 is darn close because of terrain, but the simplicity of not riding 8 hours in the dark (and hiking a 13,000 ft peak with your bike on your back in that dark) makes it an easier event to finish
    Free will is an illusion, people will always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

  33. #33
    mutaullyassuredsuffering
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    Hmm, sorry no.

    You can score points toward being identified as a reckless person, and I believe the Ministry of Silly Walks will give your application for enrollment stronger consideration as a Vapor Trail 125 finisher.

    EDIT: Almost forgot! This year you can get one of these in your goodie bag:

    Zukes for Dogs - Hip Action, Mini Naturals, Z-Bones, Jerky Naturals, Power Bones, Z-Filets

    A sweet custom wool hat.

    Free Red Bull at aid stations.
    Bummed I'm gonna miss it again...2 years in a row thanks to this silly work thing...
    Free will is an illusion, people will always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

  34. #34
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    take care of business

    Quote Originally Posted by used2Bhard View Post
    Bummed I'm gonna miss it again...2 years in a row thanks to this silly work thing...
    We're sorry you won't be there Matt. You'll be back. Sometimes you have to take care of what's important--but it'll come back around.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  35. #35
    Daniel the Dog
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    Test of Endurance 100 in Blodgett, Oregon would be a bearcat of a race. I did the 50 and did 8,500 in climbing. You double that and how a tough race....

  36. #36
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    I nominate the Pisgah 36 (aka The Most Horrible Thing Ever). Starts at midnight on Friday runs till noon on Sunday and is held in February. Lots of cold, lots of darkness, lots of creek crossings. Rarely has any finishers...

  37. #37
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    Remembering some of dicky's old blog posts on the pisgah deathmarches....i dont doubt they are a serious competitor for the hardest out there. Id love to suffer out there someday
    Free will is an illusion, people will always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

  38. #38
    Just Ride
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    For its 56 miles and 11000 ft of climbing I vote Vision Quest in Southern California, happens each spring in the Cleveland national forest!

  39. #39
    Daniel the Dog
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    Wow

    Quote Originally Posted by ssjohn View Post
    I nominate the Pisgah 36 (aka The Most Horrible Thing Ever). Starts at midnight on Friday runs till noon on Sunday and is held in February. Lots of cold, lots of darkness, lots of creek crossings. Rarely has any finishers...
    Sounds miserable but what do I know

  40. #40
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    Cascade Cream Puff has to be on the list - especially this year, total sufferfest. 18,000 feet of climbing

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    If the CTR was the same distance as the TDR.........
    Now that would put the CTR in a world of it's own. One in which I would never ever consider doing. approx 500miles of Hike a Bike
    Rolling on 2 Fat Tires-BlogUpdated when I feel like it or when I get mail

  42. #42
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by used2Bhard View Post
    For one day on Dirt, I don't think it gets harder than Vapor Trail 125. Breck 100 is darn close because of terrain, but the simplicity of not riding 8 hours in the dark (and hiking a 13,000 ft peak with your bike on your back in that dark) makes it an easier event to finish
    People used to ask me why I didn't ever to Montezuma's Revenge. (or some reason I can't understand they thought it was right up my alley ) My reply was "because I have no desire to hump my bike over the top of Greys Peak in the middle of the night".

    I'm the course designer of the Breck 100 and my philosophy has always been a little hike a bike is fine but keep it to not much more than 45 min or so. I think most people don't mind some walking, but most prefer to suffer while pedaling, not walking. When Thane changed loop 1 of the B100 to go up Miners Creek to the crest of the Ten Mile one year, the vast majority of the racers didn't like it because it added so much hike a bike. Yes, it was harder, but that didn't necessarily add any enjoyment to the loop so Thane changed it back to the original layout the next year.

    Of course everyone's different with what they like and want. Pick your poison, there are plenty of sufferfests out there to choose from.

  43. #43
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    One day race - Strathpuffer 24hr. Scotland, just north of Inverness, first weekend of January. It's dark for about 19hrs and usually snowing, quite a lot. You have to be a special kind of stupid to try that.

    Most technical - Transvesubienne, La Colmaine to Nice, France. Less than 100km but took me nearly 12hrs, including the prolouge. 12,000ft of climbs and 20,000ft of downhill, and I was scared for pretty much all of the DH, never ridden anything like that before.

    Iron Bike?

    There was one in Finland that only 3 pairs finished from 100 starters, anyone know what that was? Mate did it and I can't remember the name.

  44. #44
    mutaullyassuredsuffering
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    Interesting reply. We don't often get to hear of such folly as it seems most of us are here in the states. Those sound like fun.
    Free will is an illusion, people will always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

  45. #45
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    Dirty Kanza is the hardest thing I've done on a bike for sure. Is it the toughest out there? Probably not. My vote is for Tour Divide. I can't imagine doing doing those miles day after day, self contained.

  46. #46
    DLd
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    Don't forget the AZT 300. I don't think I've ever heard it referred to as easy, but if it's not enough there's the AZT700.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
    Wow, GJ, Fruita, and Moab trails are riding great. This is a killer spring for riding!

  47. #47
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    Andrewh8877, Offroad Finnmark I think is the race you mean.

    Difficult to decide on toughest race as its very subjective ... My day at Dirty Kanza was far harder than my Arrowhead 135 race as I hate the heat.

    Yak Attack as a stage race is very tough as at 5400m there isn't much air

    Salzkammergut Trophy is also a big day ... 211km and 7050m of climbing.

    I think Trans Iowa willl top everything I have done to date but then I forsee events yet to run that will be tougher
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  48. #48
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    Hi! does anyone of you consider : Craft 1000 miles Trans Czecho-Slovakia ?

    Registration for the race is on the first of January 2013 at 0.00 pm.
    According to 2012 experience all the places are taken within 60 minutes.

    So if you plan a great adventure without any support at all, 1700km long, 38.000m elevation, average speed 10km/h Do not hesitate! The registration fee is only 200EUR and I promise it will be one of the hardest races you have ever riden.

  49. #49
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    Hi Cowan

    I had tried to find this event on the internet a few weeks back but couldn't remember what it was called so thanks.

    Have you ridden it ?? any idea how easy it is to get to the start and back from the finish ???
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  50. #50
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    Hi Paul,
    sure, happy to help
    I´ve ridden the 2011. After few days it is all about your head. One can have a great shape, but when head fails...
    You need a strong motive to keep going really fast. Otherwise you became gastro-tour zombie
    I did not finish the 2012 /resp. finished 500miles only/ because lack of motivation when I arrived there.
    You see, there is an option to finish only 500miles. If you decice so during the race.
    The difficulty: it is very demanding. Even new bikes are wrecked in finish. New top forks stop to work after 3 days, holes in carbon frames, tires, broken alu frames..
    I belive only Alaska Iditarod is tougher race because of the extreme temperatures and dangerous surface.

  51. #51
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    Thanks Cowan

    If I come then it will be with a friend and we would be riding fully rigid singlespeed steel bikes ... extra low maintenance and ultra reliable

    What airport would I need to fly to and how easy is it to get back from finish ??
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  52. #52
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    This is a great thread.

  53. #53
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    Hi Paul, I agree
    Unfortunately the registration is over.

    But I belive if you register and write an request email, you will have a chance to start as VIP or so.
    Jan Kopka does it so when foregin rider applies. Worth the try.

    From finish it is best to take train to Praha and take a plane home.
    How to get to the start? Well some racers take train from Praha.
    You could also fly to Bratislava and take a train from there. But I am not an expert and there could be an better option.

  54. #54
    Daniel the Dog
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    Race Across America is a brutal race.
    Last edited by Jaybo; 01-04-2013 at 07:53 PM.

  55. #55
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    You mean RAAM?
    Yes, it is a different cup of tea. You are absolutely dependent on your support team.

    On the other hand - 1000miles in terrain, all alone.. There are not many races where any kind of support is excluded.
    RAAM distance: 4800km of tarmac, elevation: 32km, support: absolutly necessary - everything - even feeding, time limit: 12 days
    1000miles adventure 2012: 1730km mostly terrain, elevation: 35km, support: 0, time limit: none (best did it in 8 resp. 9 days)

  56. #56
    Daniel the Dog
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    Yaw, RAAM is what I meant to say. Guys break down with all kinds of ailments including kidney failure, pneumonia, etc. Guys seems to die from getting hit from cars. It would be a great accomplishment if you have the ability to do it.

  57. #57
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    RAAM is really beyond my grasp. Racers sometimes do not know even where and who they are. It is like riding unconscious. Really extreme in this way.

    On 1000miles you MUST stay conscious, or you get hurt or die. You can rely only on yourself.

  58. #58

  59. #59
    Daniel the Dog
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    RAAM does seem dangerous! I'm probably not single minded enough to stay on a road bike over 18 hours a day for 12 days. I am sure at some point I would say enough and quit. I just know me and I would....

  60. #60
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    For a "short" race, the old Ouachita 80 mile course (with the two big climbs/descents put at the end of the course instead of the beginning, as they now do on the 60 miler) seemed pretty nasty. Plus, it's always in early April.

    TI can be beyond painful, depending on the weather.

    VT125 sounds painful and amazing at the same time

  61. #61
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    ABSA Cape Epic

    The ultimate in XC events... Cape Epic. This must be the benchmark for all stage races.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cowan View Post
    RAAM is really beyond my grasp. Racers sometimes do not know even where and who they are. It is like riding unconscious. Really extreme in this way.

    On 1000miles you MUST stay conscious, or you get hurt or die. You can rely only on yourself.
    I try to be open minded about things, each to his own and all that.For example, I have no interest in ultra running, but respect that people do enjoy it.

    I have to say though, that I think RAAM is kind of dumb. I watched a documentary on it once, after i felt it was the worst endurance I've ever heard of.

  63. #63
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    Yaw, just grinding away on a road bike would melt my brain down very quickly.

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    Interesting topic - like the breakdown of different style races.

    FWIW 70 miles on > 95% single track I had never ridden (PCPT) seemed harder to me than Puff 100 climb and descend format (although the 2012 version a muddy sufferfest but that's beside the point). What's hard for one person, can be right in another's wheelhouse (more technical/DH versus grinding out miles).

    IMHO the question is what's very hard but still maintains the reasons I love to ride my bike. So far Puff 100, PCPT fit the bill, BC bike and Transrockies are calling.
    Go that way really fast......if anything gets in your way turn.

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    A Couple More For Thought

    Just a couple more to think about (not that I have ever done them/could do them)

    Iron Bike bills itself as the hardest and from what I've seen it looks like it is pretty damn tough. I posted up some video and some links on my work blog if you want to check it out HERE.

    The now defunct Montezuma's Revenge ranked up there for sure too. No one ever actually finished the entire proposed route in the time limit. Although Josh Tostado put in one of the longest attempts during his 2005 win by racing for 156 miles and climbing 32,350 feet in 24 hours.

    Also to reiterate what some previous posters said Yak Attack ranks up there (no pun intended) for sure. That is one sick HIGH elevation race.

    From what I have covered for XXC Magazine and xxcmag.com, some of the hardest races out there now seem to be the self supported ITTs for sure. Colorado Trail Race, Arizona Trail Race, the Grand Loop, Vapor Trail, Stagecoach 400, etc., Great races that are super hard and free. No prizes, no free t shirts, etc., but some BIG ass routes that can be conquered by racers (not me, ha!).
    Former XXC Mag publisher (re)turned amateur bike blogger at The Soiled Chamois.

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingshredd View Post
    For its 56 miles and 11000 ft of climbing I vote Vision Quest in Southern California, happens each spring in the Cleveland national forest!


    Thanks.
    I resolve to constantly assert my honest opinion on anything and everything - whether it is requested or not.
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  67. #67
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    For a one-day event, the 15-hour Patapsco 100 is looking to be brutal (~5,500 ft. of climb over a 33 mile loop x 3). The Mid Atlantic heat in July will take the starch out of some for sure and with that in mind, I'd say it will be tougher than the SM 100.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikej View Post
    Thanks.
    Sells out fast.

  69. #69
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    I have raced p2p, vision quest, Breck epic, 12 hr lap... These are a cake walk compared to unsupported ultras. The stagecoach 400 was very difficult as it is a midrange (relative to CTR) so you are putting yourself into the red but still have a long way to go with variables. In a 24 hr lap race, you can change clothes, have a meal, fix bike, warm up, cool down or even quit. In the ultra ITTs at times you keep riding, moving or perish. There are no course markers which is another physical/mental drain. Things can interesting in the darkness when your Garmin dies and no cell reception in middle of nowhere.

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    The Oh Meu Deus (OMD) is coming up... August 9-11... great time to visit Portugal!

    I'd be happy to host a few people if anyone is making it over.

    More info...
    http://www.horizontes.com.pt/
    500km, 16,000m of climbing 66h cutoff.

  71. #71
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    Absa Cape- epic 15000 meters of climbing

    800 kilometers, 100 degree temps all done in 8 days. The fastest mtb guys did it in 30 hrs. Thats 2 weeks of the Tour of France.
    Absa Cape Epic | The Untamed African MTB Race

  72. #72
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    I still dream about a 150 mile MTB race with a course similar to the Wilderness 101 or SM100. Would have to set qualifications for entry, like finishing the SM101 in under 9:30 or the W101 in under 9:00 within the last year. Cut off times would be harsh and inflexible. Hold it on June 21st for the most daylight. Superfast people would finish in ~11 hours so normal fast and not doped would be finishing in ~ 13 hours.

  73. #73
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    This is how I feel about endurance races. If I want to walk my bike I'll just take up mountaineering and carry it with me.
    When I think about endurance racing that is fun I think of a few things:

    It should be hard, training and being in good shape should be the minimum just to finish.
    It shouldn't kill you, you should be able to complete it tired, sore, but with a feeling of accomplishment. Of course fitness determines a lot of this, but I'm talking about someone in good shape already.
    It should be worthy of a mountain bike, not a road race, but it shouldn't be un-rideable. Anyone can make a course so tough that most people can't complete it, the challenge is to make it a challenge and fun imho.

    I hope to sign up for the Breck. 100 this year depending on my work schedule. It looks like a challenge for me, I feel a little bit apprehensive contemplating it, which is good I think.



    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    People used to ask me why I didn't ever to Montezuma's Revenge. (or some reason I can't understand they thought it was right up my alley ) My reply was "because I have no desire to hump my bike over the top of Greys Peak in the middle of the night".

    I'm the course designer of the Breck 100 and my philosophy has always been a little hike a bike is fine but keep it to not much more than 45 min or so. I think most people don't mind some walking, but most prefer to suffer while pedaling, not walking. When Thane changed loop 1 of the B100 to go up Miners Creek to the crest of the Ten Mile one year, the vast majority of the racers didn't like it because it added so much hike a bike. Yes, it was harder, but that didn't necessarily add any enjoyment to the loop so Thane changed it back to the original layout the next year.

    Of course everyone's different with what they like and want. Pick your poison, there are plenty of sufferfests out there to choose from.

  74. #74
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    Vapor trail 125 sounds like the toughest 1 day on paper. 125 miles, 20k of climbing, all at altitude and a significant amount of singletrack. It starts at 10pm and finishers finish the next afeternoon.

  75. #75
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    Breck 100 is crazy tough....at least for me. I think about half the guys in my class DNF'ed. I'm not sure if I would even consider doing the Vapor Trail. That ride sounds crazy for a one day ride.
    The LPG

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    OMD in Portugal kicks off tonight. Only 10 doing it... the 66h cut-off for 300 miles will be brutal considering that temps are predicted in the 100s.

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    For some East Coast Love...Patapsco 100. 85% singletrack, 15k of climbing, some hike-a-bike. Almost 90% DNF's this year (100 starters)...the first year. I made two laps (66 miles) and it was tough. I'll be back next year.

  78. #78
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    I challenge everyone here to do Iron Bike before giving an answer to this thread. I can't see how any mtb event could be tougher. The stats don't do it justice but an average day out of the eight days would have about 4500 meters of climbing over about 80km, which is around 8-11 hours every day for most riders. Oh, and you'll spend a few hours every day doing hike a bike too.
    "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

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    Love those Patapsco trails! Used to live in Columbia, MD... you're fortunate to have such great singeltrack.

    DNF % is another way to look at it, I suppose. 100 miles on those super-twisted, rooty, slimy East Coast trails is no joke. Your 66 earns you a trip to the Wharf Rat.

  80. #80
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    I rode the A-strecke (211, 7050 meter climbing) of the Salzkammergut Trophy this year. I needed 15 hours to complete the race. It is a very tough race for sure but much is depending on the circumstance you have during the race. This year it was almost perfect and that made it a relative easy race.

    Most difficult race has to be the Ironbike in Italy. You can read a nice race report here from Matt Page who finished fifth : Iron Bike 2013 - Round-up & Photos - A Cycling

    In totally he needed 50 hours to ride/walk the 620 km and climb 29.000 meters.

  81. #81
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    Maah Daah Hey 100
    minimal aid, extreme temperatures (100+ deg this year), and unforgiving terrain

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpman View Post
    Maah Daah Hey 100
    minimal aid, extreme temperatures (100+ deg this year), and unforgiving terrain

    That's on my list....


    I heard its an amazing experience.
    .




    .

  83. #83
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    OMD for 2014 is not on the calendar yet, but won't disappoint.
    We'd like to get more foreigners in the mix.
    Portugal in the summer should be an easy sell.

    Part 1 of my race report linked below... Disclaimer: I'm a total hack at blogging and never found myself "in contention"
    Cycling Rentals

  84. #84
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    Re: Toughest Endurance Race

    Quote Originally Posted by jumpman View Post
    Maah Daah Hey 100
    minimal aid, extreme temperatures (100+ deg this year), and unforgiving terrain
    +1
    I think one would be hard pressed to find a tougher race than this. People look at the elevation profile and think "meh, that doesn't look so bad" and "its north dakota, how hot can it be?" But in reality, its absolutely brutal. I did a section of it last summer in temps in the 70s, and it was much more difficult than I anticipated. Couldn't imagine doing the 100 in 90+ degree heat.....as we say up north.....UFF DA!!

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  85. #85
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    Try this: Get Lost!! Running, Racing this year. It will be 40 hours in two stages in Henry Coe park, night and day. Since this is a rogaine (collect control points in any order), you can go as far or as little as you can. Oh, and you need to find your own way and plan the route. Not the longest of the toughest, but the format makes it more accessible to normal people. Solo, or teams up to five..

    Henry Coe park means a LOT of climbing. And a lot of nice trails as well.

  86. #86
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    Has anyone done the Tahoe Sierra 100? I complete the WS100 running race years ago and would love to do it on a MTB before I go underground.

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    La ruta or cape epic.Ithink so..

  88. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by 8iking VIIking View Post
    +1
    I think one would be hard pressed to find a tougher race than this. People look at the elevation profile and think "meh, that doesn't look so bad" and "its north dakota, how hot can it be?" But in reality, its absolutely brutal. I did a section of it last summer in temps in the 70s, and it was much more difficult than I anticipated. Couldn't imagine doing the 100 in 90+ degree heat.....as we say up north.....UFF DA!!

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 4
    Vapor 125 is clearly tougher. Longer, steeper, more absolute climbing, and it doesn't drop below 9k

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    Cape Epic and Israel Epic.

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  91. #91
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    I did in 2012 in just under 13 hours. Tinker raced too and finished in 9:42 to give you some perspective. Lots of single track and fire road, a little pavement. Lots of hiking. New course for this year. Northlanderevents.com. I'm considering doing it but not sure just yet with all the family stuff going on between now and August 15.

  92. #92
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    Oldie but goodie thread! We should probably separate all-day races and multi-day stage races.

    I would have to vote for the Tour Divide for toughest stage race - no one has mentioned an actual MTB race with more mileage or elevation yet. It goes from Banff, Canada to the US/Mexico border, no support allowed. 2,745 miles and 200,000 feet of climbing, mostly high mountain passes in the Rockies. RAAM is insane, but the racers all have a whole crew following them - doctors, massage therapists, coaches, moral support, people to manage your nutrition, navigate, shine headlights in your path at night etc. Interesting book "Hell on two wheels" chronicling the lives of several racers doing RAAM one year (I think, 2009). On the Tour Divide, you have to navigate yourself, feed yourself, carry all of your water, tools and food, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, repair your bike yourself, charge your own lights, set up your tent or bivvy at night, manage your own pacing and race, sometimes dig your own toilet pit, run from grizzlies, etc. If you crash out in the middle of nowhere, there is no one there to give you first aid or take you to the hospital.

    Fun stuff.
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  93. #93
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredchic View Post
    Oldie but goodie thread! We should probably separate all-day races and multi-day stage races.

    I would have to vote for the Tour Divide for toughest stage race - no one has mentioned an actual MTB race with more mileage or elevation yet. It goes from Banff, Canada to the US/Mexico border, no support allowed. 2,745 miles and 200,000 feet of climbing, mostly high mountain passes in the Rockies. RAAM is insane, but the racers all have a whole crew following them - doctors, massage therapists, coaches, moral support, people to manage your nutrition, navigate, shine headlights in your path at night etc. Interesting book "Hell on two wheels" chronicling the lives of several racers doing RAAM one year (I think, 2009). On the Tour Divide, you have to navigate yourself, feed yourself, carry all of your water, tools and food, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, repair your bike yourself, charge your own lights, set up your tent or bivvy at night, manage your own pacing and race, sometimes dig your own toilet pit, run from grizzlies, etc. If you crash out in the middle of nowhere, there is no one there to give you first aid or take you to the hospital.

    Fun stuff.
    Tour Divide isn't a stage race.

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Tour Divide isn't a stage race.
    Sorry, I was confusing a stage race with a race completed over multiple days/weeks.
    Half the planet is deep into bloody tribal mayhem. We’re just riding bikes (and drinking beer) here.
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  95. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrewh8877 View Post
    One day race - Strathpuffer 24hr. Scotland, just north of Inverness, first weekend of January. It's dark for about 19hrs and usually snowing, quite a lot. You have to be a special kind of stupid to try that...
    I'm that special type of stupid and on a rigid singlespeed.

    I don't think it can be compared to one of the USA long distance epics, it's a different sort of beast. However in 24 hour circles it's held in high esteem, and solo positions sell out in under 2 minutes when it opens for entries.

    The race depends on the weather. It's been a bit soft lately IMO, but it's been run on blizzard conditions and 80mph winds. Other times almost the entire course was sheet ice, and that was before we could get studded tyres.

    As far as 24 hour races I've ridden, it's harder than the national 24 hour solo championships I've ridden - I also did the world 24 hours solo last year, and it's tougher than that IMO.

    It's at its worst when the weather is "warm", ie sleet. It's really difficult to keep any heat in your body because there's usually wind too, and the mud become epic - I've seen an entire bike get submerged when the rider fell off on the wrong line.

    It is on the bucket list of just about every 24 hour racer in this country, and the dread list of support crew because it is truly miserable for them. It's not in a trail centre, so there's no provided facilities or shelter other than the event marquee. I do it unsupported for this reason, just leave a pile of gear and food beside the track and just try to survive.

    It is a notorious component wrecker. It's not unknown to get through several sets of brake pads - granite mud is abrasive - and some folk end up having to replace their entire drivetrain midrace.

    Edit: just to clarify - all races are tough, because even if it's a flat loop you drive your body too hard, it's the conditions this one is run in that make it special. For example, a midsummer 12 hour race used to be run on the same loop as the StrathPuffer, and in the 12 hour I used to do as many laps in the 12 hours as I could do in the 24 hour.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Tour Divide isn't a stage race.
    This. And, it's done on dirt roads, and frequently won on drop bars and full rigid bikes with ~slick tires . Basically glorified road bikes.

    It is an incredibly hard race, no doubt. But it is not mountain biking.

  97. #97
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    The absolute toughest endurance race is always the last endurance race you did

  98. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    This. And, it's done on dirt roads, and frequently won on drop bars and full rigid bikes with ~slick tires . Basically glorified road bikes.

    It is an incredibly hard race, no doubt. But it is not mountain biking.
    It's a mixed terrain route, basically. But what race of that length is 100% singletrack anyway? Not even the PCT is 100% ST.


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  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredchic View Post
    It's a mixed terrain route, basically. But what race of that length is 100% singletrack anyway? Not even the PCT is 100% ST.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    The divide has 0% singletrack, and extremely limited trail of any sort. It is a dirt road route/race. Nothing at all wrong with that--as evidenced by the sheer volumes of people interested in or out actually riding/racing it.

    It's just not accurate to call it mountain biking, and as such it shouldn't be considered when discussing the toughest mountain bike races.

  100. #100
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    It's certainly more mountain biking-specific than RAAM, which was also mentioned here, and the reason I posted in the first place.


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