True Grit Epic 100 Mile

A Day of Firsts for True Grit

This year’s True Grit Epic in Santa Clara, Utah, represented an exciting new chapter for the southern Utah race. 2019 was it’s first sellout year with an impressive 800+ riders taking the start. It also represented the first year of the True Grit gravel grinder.

Riders enter the Zen trail

As race morning broke it seemed to be following a now-familiar pattern, early forecasts of cold temperautres and rain turned into pleasant skies and ideal riding weather. Rain throughout the week had left some puddles on the trail but nothing a seasoned True Grit rider couldn’t handle.

The hundred milers start first just as the sun rose over the cliffs of Zion.

True Grit defending champion and endurance-veteran Taylor Lideen (DNA Cycling/Pivot) was a heavy favorite for the men’s category as fellow Arizona rider Chase Edwards (CZ Racing) was favored for the women who was determined to improve on her fourth place from last year.

As the riders rolled out a puddles and standing water from the previous rains splattered the field until they exited the opening wash and the climbing started. At the front Lideen moved to the front with Pete Karinen.

Karinen kept the heat on the defending champion ensuring he wouldn’t ride away for an easy win. The lead duo rode together throughout the opening 50-lap and the early climbs of lap two.

It wasn’t until the steepest climb of the day up to the dreaded waterfall descent that Lideen was able to open a gap. A small advantage was all Lideen would need as his riding skills took control on the highly challenging Barrel and Zen trails.

It certainly wasn’t an easy day for the defending champion. At the finish Lideen said, “some days you feel great and just ride away and other days it feels like you really have to work for it. Today was one of those days.”

But despite not feeling his best Taylor Lideen was able to control the day and finish the 100 miler in just over six and a half hours. Nine minutes in front of challenger Pete Karinen.

After the race the repeat race winner had this to say:

It was a blast riding with Pete throughout the day as he is a super talented and skilled rider. I was able to make my move on the longer climb up to the waterfall early into the second lap. You never know how the day will go on such a rough and technical course out there but I was fortunate enough to grab the win. I am always blown away by how awesome and friendly every racer is out there no matter the distance they are competing in. It’s always a pleasure to race in this event. Mary (Mrs. Lideen) of course was my everything with her aid in the pits. I am one lucky dude to have her in my corner. Big thanks to all of the volunteers out there as well! Races like this wouldn’t happen with great people like that!

Timon Fish (Sticky Racing) finished in third with a time of 7:00:12 after a close battle with Stefano Barberi (Serious Cycling).

Chris Alstrin (Carborocket) grabbed the final podium spot in fifth.

With the win Taylor Lideen takes the lead in the NUE series but will not likely feature in the final series picture as his goals for the season are outside the NUE leaving the door open for others to challenge for the NUE title.

The women’s race appeared to be starting as expected with Chase Edwards opening an early lead through the big climbs on the opening lap. She held the lead heading into the technical slickrock jungle of Zen trail but St. George local Shirley Leydsman (Team Redrock) closed things down in the rocks and pulled ahead.

Once out front Leydsman stayed focused on riding her own race and erasing the disappointment of crashing and badly injuring her wrist in last year’s True Grit.

Her motivation showed as she opened a big gap finally crossing the line over 30 minutes up on Edwards who had this to say after the finish.

True Grit is a brutal NUE season opener! Shirley, the local gal who won, caught me at Zen, took a line I was unfamiliar with, and dropped me on the first lap. It was a great warm-up to the season as the techy sections on the course forced me to keep my head in the game and to also acknowledge skill sets that got a little rusty over the winter. I’ll be chasing other NUE races this season while representing Construction Zone Racing. I’d also like to say thanks to Paragon Athletics for helping to keep my body strong and injury-free, to Coach Kata for continuing to work with me on this ongoing journey of balancing work stress and training, and Honey Stinger for fueling all the adventures. 

Julie Thumel (Race Pace Bicycles) finished in third place followed by Becky Edmiston (Steamboat Velo) in fourth.

In the singlespeed group, Mark Schafer improved on his bronze medal from 2018 with a race win at this year’s True Grit. Schafer dominated for most of the race finishing almost a half hours clear of runner up Johnathan Ciampa (DRT/Cycological).

Ciampa put together a strong race chasing down Nathan Whipple after the opening 50 miles and opening a gap in the second half of the race. Whipple started out strong but a tall gear and a long New England winter effected his performance. The third place rider had this to say about his day in Santa Clara:

Early season weather in New England didn’t let me get out on the SS as much as I’d have liked. Just days before the race, Boston got a fresh 18” of snow even.  Add in an optimistic gear choice for the race and I did a great job setting myself up for an Epic amount of hurt. It was hardly noticed though, what with the amazing trails and spectacular vistas constantly trying to one-up each other. 

The gear choice did help early positioning, but by the start of the 2nd lap the damage from the low cadence grinding started to show. I found myself forced off the bike to avoid having the wheels fall completely off. I had nothing to counter with when the second place finisher caught me and I watched him motor away from me up the first climb on Zen. I rode by myself for the majority of the second lap after that and soaked in the views and amazing trail. 

The men’s master group saw Cary Smith once again crushing the hopes of all competitors. Smith, who had the fifth fastest finishing time of all the 100 mile riders dominated from the starting gun leaving no doubt he was going to repeat as master’s champion short of major catastrophe.

But Smith avoided any complications to his race and finished a full 2 hours clear of runner up Gerry Hatcher (Santa Cruz).

Hatcher turned in a strong effort in his first True Grit experience and had this to say after the finish:

The Santa Clara/St George area has intrigued me for a while and I’ve never ridden in Utah so learning of the “True Grit Epic” race gave me the push I needed – Road Trip!  I brought my 2018 Santa Cruz Highball CC 29’r hardtail.

Having never ridden in the Santa Clara area before, and my introduction to it being the most gnarly sections of the True Grit rattled that confidence and made me immediately re-calibrate my race strategy. 

I dialed everything back from “go fast” to “just make damn sure I finish.”  Having fitted relatively thin walled & fast rolling tires thinking because I’m a small framed lightweight rider it was “probably worth the risk”, didn’t help with my anxiety. Sidewall tearing, rim & tire destroying geology was lurking everywhere! It wasn’t until I got through Zen Trail on my second lap that I relaxed a bit. Until then I had to constantly remind myself to stay focused, keep good lines, and to not take unnecessary chances.  I used my cyclo-cross skills to shoulder the bike and trot over, around, or down more sections than I’m proud of, but hey I finished! And, un-expected icing on the cake, with a respectable second place too!

Jim Miller finished third after enjoying his day and improving after a broken frame almost ended True Grit in 2018.

He had this to say at the end:

It was a great day, I love this race and plan to come back again and again.  The trails are nearly 100% sweet single-track, the race vibe is competitive but fun and friendly, the event is well run, the volunteers are great, and the setting is so very beautiful! Thanks to Joe’s Bike Shop in Baltimore for having my Trek Fuel EX in tip-top shape.

Click Here for full results from True Grit Epic 2019

Riders were treated to food a live music after the finish

True Grit Epic – Santa Clara, Utah

Fast Times Posted at NUE Series Opener in Southern Utah with Biggest Ever Field

Saturday’s True Grit Epic saw it’s biggest-ever field with over 600 racers taking on the treacherous, rock-strewn course tucked in the south west corner of Utah. The record-setting participants were rewarded with some of the best race conditions possible with calm winds, temperatures in the low 60s and overcast skies keeping the sun at bay.

All this allowed racers to post some of the fastest times around the notoriously techy True Grit course.

Gwendalyn Gibson (Norco) had some fun while destroying the marathon event. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

The NUE opener experienced a youth infusion with riders like Gwendalyn Gibson (Norco) and Hannah Finchamp (Clif Bar) who just recently left the junior ranks. 50 miles was not too much for these youngsters though as the powered away from the outset battling each other most of the day.

Gibson took the win with Finchamp just minutes back. It wasn’t all about the kids though as Jenni Smith (Kenda/Cannondale) who just turned 45 rallied all day and finished just behind in 3rd. Nicole Tittensor (Scott) and Liza Hartlaub (GU Energy Labs) finished off the podium in 4th and 5th.

Nicole Tittensor (Scott) leads Jen Hanks into the Waterfall. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

The men’s marathon was a showdown between Justin Lindine (Apex) and another youngster testing out the long distance scene, Zach Calton (Spry/ LPB Sotheby’s).

The two rode wheel-to-wheel through the most technical first half of the race before Lindine opened a gap and took the win after just missing it last year in a sprint finish.

Justin Lindine (Apex) showed his early-season form taking the men’s marathon title. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

Former winner Alex Grant (Maybird/Cannondale) took third followed by Nic Beechan (Trek) and Clayton Otto (Giant).

The kids came out in force for the 2018 True Grit. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

Dave Harris won the 50+ marathon event but had to leave part of his face on the course to do so proving that even living in St. George and riding these trails everyday doesn’t give you a free pass on the True Grit course.

Local speedster and 50+ marathon champ Dave Harris left some blood on course. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

100 Mile 

Taylor Lideen charges toward the finish. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

100-mile winner Taylor Lideen (Pivot/DNA Cycling) turned in one of the most impressive rides at the True Grit taking the win just three weeks after winning the solo race at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. When asked if he considered doing the 50 mile event instead he said, “Never, I don’t have that kind of fire in my legs right now – my goal was just to set my pace and see how it went.”

Lideen was challenged throughout the opening lap and a half by Pete Karinen (Broken Spoke Racing) before a flat, on the second pass through Zen trail, sent him back in the pack and Brazilian Stefano Barberi (Team Barberi) took up the chase. He couldn’t catch Lideen as he finally finished second followed by David Krimstock (Pearl Izumi/Pivot). Pete Karinen rallied after his flat to finish fourth with Coulton Hartrich in fifth.

2017 NUE marathon champion Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) traveled out from Ohio the NUE opener. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

Larissa Connors smashed the True Grit course winning by 30 minutes over Sparky Sears (First Hand MTB) and Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop). Connors was so fast she would have placed just off the podium in the open men’s category in 7th.

Chase Hansen (CZ Racing) finished 4th followed by Lauren Cantwell.

Hannah Finchamp (Clif Bar) making an impressive debut at True Grit. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/ MTB Race News

By far the most exciting part of the 2018 True Grit Epic despite the great weather, amazing views, brutally fun course, and fantastic volunteers and staff was the number of young racers on hand.

The number of participants under the age of 21 was truly impressive and a testament to the success of the NICA high school racing league in the southwest. Dozens and dozens of kids strapped on their helmets and conquered one of the toughest endurance events in the country with many even contending for race wins. It was an exciting development I hope we continue to see for years to come.

Riders have to decide between riding or taking in the incredible views at True Grit. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

 

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True Grit Marathon – Santa Clara, Utah

Keegan Swenson and Jenny Smith Win NUE Opener in Utah

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

 

In it’s second year as an official NUE event the True Grit 50 or marathon event showed significant growth and stacked fields to compete in the series opener.

Once again riders from all across the country made the trek to Santa Clara, Utah, to take in the desert singletrack oasis tucked in the southwestern corner of the state. Warm weather and ideal trail conditions greeted the 500 riders registered for this year’s True Grit Epic.

The fact that the NUE series finale would be moving out west in 2017 provided extra buzz as many of those in attendance would be making a run at the series title, a challenge that is typically out of reach for most racers out west who have a hard time traveling to the east coast for the series final. This year’s finale will be located in Big Bear, California.

Keegan Swenson leads Justin Lindine on course.

Open Men

The opens men’s race featured some of the fastest legs in the United States. Two-time U.S. national championship runner-up Keegan Swenson (Cannondale) was making his first appearance at this 50-miler. Swenson would be going up against longtime friend and teammate Alex Grant (Cannondale) who was making his return to mountain bike racing after being sidelined for almost all of 2016 after suffering a foot fracture in the world cup opener.

Last year’s NUE marathon champ Alex Pond was on hand looking to defend his title as was Justin Lindine (Apex/NBX) who always finds his way to the front of the pack.

Off the start it was Keegan Swenson and Justin Lindine providing the watts early on. Driving the pace and easily shedding the majority of the field in the early miles. The early pace was too much for Grant but California rider Menso De Jong (Clif Bar) and youngster Zach Calton (Competitive Cyclist) emerged from the pack staying close to the leaders. Calton surged ahead bridging the gap to the leaders.

After the race’s early climbs Swenson and Lindine led into the slickrock labyrinth of Zen trail. Both talented bike handlers, the lead duo flowed over the rocks like a flashflood pulling away from everyone including Calton who had worked hard to match the leaders pace.

Now the duo forged ahead, pushing the pace once again and opening big gaps behind them.

In the final miles, Lindine and Swenson traded attacks with neither rider getting an advantage. Late in the race the lead duo stayed together approaching the 1-mile paved finishing straight into downtown Santa Clara.

Lindine took the lead out with Swenson tucked behind waiting to make his final surge, which came just feet from the finishing chute as the Cannondale rider popped ahead just enough to take the win by one second.

Behind them Alex Grant had worked through his early cobwebs and traded the third spot with Calton. He made his final move on the Barrel Roll trail just miles from the finish securing a third place finish.

Calton rolled in for fourth followed by De Jong for fifth.

Riders flows over the rocks on Zen trail. Photo by: Crawling Spider

Open Women

The 2017 women’s field represented the most competitive bunch ever assembled at the NUE opener. Over twenty women registered for the race including mountain bike speedsters like Alexis Skarda (NoTubes/Kenda), Jenni Smith (NoTubes/Kenda), last year’s runner up Nicole Tittensor (Scott/Jan’s), collegiate cyclocross star Sofia Gomez-Villafane (Assos/Pivot), Arizona speedster Erin Osbourne (Flagstaff Bicycle Revolution) and ’16 podium finisher Jen Hanks (Pivot/DNA Cycling).

A mixed start with the open men’s group meant a fast start for the ladies. Alexis Skarda showed the most power off the start opening it up early. She was joined early on by Gomez-Villafane.

Jenny Smith managed to find her way up to the lead group before being gapped again just before a notoriously technical section called “the Waterfall.”

Skarda managed a small gap that widened at Sofia Gomez-Villafane missed a turn and ended up off course. This put Smith in second position chasing her teammate Skarda.

“Alexis was climbing so well today,” said the always-cheery Smith after the finish. “She would pull away from me on the climbs and I would have to claw my way back on the flats and downhill sections.”

Lucky for Smith she stayed close enough throughout the race to pull ahead in the closing miles and take advantage of the rolling downhill terrain leading to the finish line.

An impressive effort throughout allowed with race winner to cross the line with a smoking fast time of 3 hours 50 minutes; fast enough to beat more than half the open male riders.

Alexis Skarda came in about 5 minutes back after being in close contact with Smith for most of the day.

Sofia Gomez-Villafane soldiered on for third place after encountering some confusion on the notoriously tricky racecourse. “I didn’t have the luxury of pre-riding the course so I got off track about four times out there… Overall a hard day on the bike, but it was a good day.”

Nicole Tittensor secured the fourth spot after trading her position with Jen Hanks several times throughout the day. Ultimately her strong climbing gave her the advantage over the Pivot/DNA Cycling rider.

Start of the True Grit Marathon

Singlespeed

A moderately-sized crew signed up to race one-speeders in the southern Utah desert. Ten in all, decided riding 50 miles of rugged terrain would just be too easy with gears.

The favorites included 2 podium finishers in the 100-mile True Grit event in 2016. Shannon Boffeli (Pivot/DNA Cycling) and Corey Larrabee (Kuhl) finished fourth and second respectively in ’16 and spent much of the race wheel to wheel last year.

The 2017 race got off to a quick start with several of the singlespeeders spinning their way to the singletrack with the lead group of geared 40-49 racers. Once on the dirt Larrabee and Boffeli were joined by Brent Cannon (Team Elevate) as the three leaders made their way through Cove Wash and onto the early climbs in Green Valley.

When the uphill started Larrabee showed a clear advantage being marked for a short time by Boffeli but eventually opening up a solid advantage on the climb to Zen trail.

Now riding with the fastest of the geared riders Larrabee kept putting time into the chasers pushing a 32 x 20 over the 50-mile course.

In the end the Kuhl rider passed all but two of the geared riders he started with and posted a time that was over 10 minutes faster than last year’s winning 50-mile finisher.

A satisfied Shannon Boffeli took second suffering a bit in the heat. “Even on my best day I couldn’t have matched Corey on the climbs,” Boffeli shared at the finish. “I could get close on the flatter stuff early on but he just crushed me when it started to get steep.”

Brent Cannon solidified the third spot with a strong finishing time well ahead of the next closest rider.

Both Larrabee and Boffeli have eyes on the NUE marathon title so expect to see them at more NUE events throughout the season.

 

50+ Masters Men

The master’s event turned out to be a battle of local talent with local legend Dave Harris (LW Coaching) taking the win over fellow Utahns Zan Treasure (Bountiful Bicycle) and Dave Smith (Red Rock Bicycle).

Although once active on the race scene Harris has been absent from competition for years focusing his efforts on youth mountain bike coaching and desert moto riding. After Saturday it was clear the years away from racing haven’t slowed him much as he posted a time of 3 hours 51 minutes, which would have put him in the top-30 of the open male category.

Once again the True Grit epic did not disappoint. Riders taking on the True Grit challenge know they can expect a tough, technical course with incredible views, great weather, enthusiastic support crews, and a hefty dose of spring-time singletrack riding.

Cannondale rider Alex Grant’s thoughts after the race captured the overall feeling well. “It felt so good to be back out racing the mountain bike. It has been almost 11 months since my last MTB race. It felt so familiar yet so strange getting ready. Last year’s injury definitely gave me some perspective, when I was laid up and couldn’t step on my foot for 3 months I had plenty of time to think about how I would never take just being mobile and active for granted again. Every race I do is all just gravy because at the end of the day I unclip and walk away on two feet.”

 

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True Grit Epic (NUE #1) – Santa Clara, UT

Taylor Lideen and Angela Parra Take NUE Series Opener in Santa Clara

Written by: Jen Hanks

With the 2016 National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series set to kickoff Saturday morning things were not looking good in Santa Clara, Utah. Following a dry winter in southern Utah, rain began to fall just past midnight Saturday morning, the rain came down hard for several hours. Water ran down many of the same washes the True Grit Epic would be conquering just a few hours later.

The rains finally stopped about 90 minutes before race time and just before the 100-mile competitors were about to start they received news that the course was draining quickly and the muddiest sections should be clear by the time racers would arrive.

With good news fresh in their minds the more than 100 riders entered in the 100-mile True Grit Epic left the quaint, peaceful setting of Santa Clara for the rugged desert of the True Grit.

With the roads still damp and temperatures in the 40s riders hit the road out from Santa Clara and the leaders were soon stringing the pack out behind them.

As many as 15 Costa Rican riders traveled to Utah for the first race of the NUE series. The “Tico Invasion” served to drive the pace in the early stages as did Cary Smith (The Hub), Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz), and Taylor Lideen (Pivot/92 Fifty Cyclery), who finished second, third, and fourth respectively in 2015.

When the dust settled the lead group, included the three Americans and two Coast Rican riders Luis Anderson Mejia and Jonathan Carballo, teammates on the Coopenae Extralum Economy team.

Luis Anderson Mejia and Taylor Lideen. Photo by Ryan O'Dell

Luis Anderson Mejia and Taylor Lideen. Photo by Ryan O’Dell

These five riders stayed close throughout the entire first 50-mile lap. After the halfway mark the fireworks began as the Costa Rican duo broke away. What appeared to be the most significant move of the day was rather quickly neutralized as one of the leaders suffered an untimely flat and his teammate made a wrong turn getting him off course.

This put Lideen in the driver’s seat and the Pivot rider proved more than capable of steering his way to the finish. Lideen has a unique history of racing ultra-endurance events and enduro/downhill races. The technical skills he’s acquired in his downhill pursuits served him well in conquering the tough, technical terrain of the True Grit 100.

Taylor Lideen proved untouchable for the rest of the race and crossed the line in just under 7 hours to take a very emotional victory – his first at an NUE event.

Mejia and Carballo recovered from their unfortunate turn but it cost them a chance for a race win. Mejia rolled in to the finish in second place just in front of Cary Smith.

Carballo ultimately took fourth with Josh Tostado claiming the final podium position in fifth.

The women’s race provided some South American fireworks of their own with Angela Parra (Coopenae Extralum Economy) representing the Tico squad up front.

Parra appeared to have no concerns about the long mileage or technical terrain of the day as she set off with a fast pace right from the start. She got out front early and proved formidable on the early climbing sections of the course.

Christy Olsen (Crazy Pedaler Fast Fish) limited her losses in the early going occupying the second spot on course for the entire day.

Behind the lead duo a rotating group of Liz Carrington (Pale Goat), Chase Edwards (Flagstaff Bike Revolution), and Marlee Dixon (Pivot/DNA Cycling) battled for who would occupy third spot on the podium.

Dixon opened up a lead toward the midway mark leaving the others behind on the Barrel Roll trail.

Just a few miles into lap two Carrington and Edwards got off course accompanied by several male racers. Edwards decided to backtrack to rejoin the course while Carrington searched around and after seeing some course markings returned to the course. In doing so Carrington had unwittingly cut out a significant climb and after finishing realized her mistake and was disqualified.

Despite all the action back in the pack Angela Parra continued to power her way through the course and ultimately took the win in just over 8 hours.

Angela Parra crosses the finish line. Photo by Ryan O'Dell

Angela Parra crosses the finish line. Photo by Ryan O’Dell

Christy Olsen proved up to the challenge riding steady in second and claiming a few hundred dollars for her efforts.

Marlee Dixon stayed strong for the second half of her race taking a satisfying third place after she had to DNF in 2015.

Chase Edwards’ decision to backtrack cost her some time but ultimately paid off as she claimed fourth on the day with NUE series champion Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) coming home in fifth.

Of all the days racing the 100-mile singlespeed event may have been the craziest. It started early as NUE series champion Gordon Wadsworth (Pivot/Blue Ridge Cyclery) and Steven Mills powered away in the lead group.

Wadsworth flatted early on, losing serious time to Mills and the large chase group that included Mike Montalbano (Ride 4 Rescue), Kip Biese (KJ Bike Coaching), Corey Larrabee (Kuhl/Fezzarri), John Haddock (JA King), and Shannon Boffeli (Pivot/DNA Cycling).

Mills was well off the front and by the end of lap one had well over 10 minutes on the chase group who in turn had another 10 minutes on Wadsworth.

By this time the lead group had winnowed it’s way down to Montalbano, Boffeli, and Larrabee. But Wadsworth quickly spoiled the party by turning in an impressive surge of speed that saw him eat up those 10 minutes in no more than 15 miles.

The defending champ was now in second with Mills off the front and seemingly out of reach, which is when things really got out of hand.

Mills held off Wadsworth for the rest of lap two and cruised into the finish assuming he had won but he and race officials quickly discovered that he had inadvertently missed a section of the course about 10 miles from the finish. So Mills rode back out onto the circuit to complete the missed section of trail, backtracking many miles to do so.

This meant Gordon Wadsworth was now in the lead with clear sailing to the finish line. No mistakes or missed checkpoints would derail his day as he rolled into the finish taking another win at the True Grit Epic.

Corey Larrabee couldn’t hang with the race winner but stayed well clear of the other competitors to take a resounding second place on the day.

Corey Larrabee and Gordon Wadsworth congratulate each other at the finish. Photo by Ryan O'Dell

Corey Larrabee and Gordon Wadsworth congratulate each other at the finish. Photo by Ryan O’Dell

Meanwhile Mills rejoined the course on the Barrel Roll trail not far behind third place rider Shannon Boffeli. The almost-race-winner Mills had plenty of juice left in his legs to pass Boffeli and secure a third place finish despite the extra mileage.

Boffeli held on for fourth in front of North Carolina rider John Haddock.

The master’s 50+ proved to be a truly epic competition as the top spot wouldn’t be decided until a last final sprint to the finish line.

Eventual winner, Greg Golet (Team Chico), got off to a good start jumping in front of top competitors Roger Masse (Rare Disease Cycling) and Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) early.

That is until he encountered a vicious clay bog that had claimed several riders in it’s deep, sticky goo. Golet, like other riders, diverted around the worst of the clay but confusion about some downed course markings led to him rejoining the course on a climb he had already completed.

After riding the climb for a few minutes he realized his error and backtracked again. By now he had lost several minutes and found himself chasing Clayton, Masse, and David Jolin (Stark Velo).

He caught Jolin first, followed by Masse but Jeff Clayton still stayed out front.

With just a few miles left in the 100-mile race Golet finally made contact with the leader and the two raced the last several miles wheel-to-wheel back to the finish.

As they approached the line it appeared Clayton would lead out the final sprint but he missed the turn onto the final chicane leading to the finish allowing Golet to slide through for the win.

Clayton ultimately crossed the line in second.

David Jolin overtook Roger Masse to claim third with Masse fourth. Sten Hertsens (Muleterro) took the final podium spot in fifth.

New to the NUE series for 2016 is the 50-mile classification. Several races on the NUE calendar will be offering a 50-mile option this year that will be part of the NUE overall series titles. True Grit is the first of these 50-mile events.

Since the True Grit 100 course consists of two 50-mile laps the 50 milers would simple complete one. And as the open groups left the start line it was obvious that one lap would be a fast one.

Endurance racing grandmaster Tinker Juarez (Cannondale/360Fly) and Justin Lindine (Hyperthreads) were the first to take off, getting a solid gap on the chase group until Drew Free (Kuhl) bridged up to Juarez in the technical rocks of the Zen trail.

Lindine was out of sight as Juarez sped away fro Free on the smoother trails following Zen. Another Kuhl rider, Chris Holley joined Free at this point and the teammates rode the second half of the race together but were never able to close the gap to Juraez or Lindine.

Justin Lindine was clearly the class of the field taking the win with a healthy margin of around 2 minutes. Never really being challenged for most of the day.

Juarez had no problems hanging onto second place while Chris Holley dropped his teammate on the final techy climb of the day to finish third.

Drew Free held on for fourth place with Roger Arnell (Endurance 360) finishing out the podium in fifth.

Jen Hanks and Karen Jarchow celebrate after the finish. Photo by Ryan O'Dell

Jen Hanks and Karen Jarchow celebrate after the finish. Photo by Ryan O’Dell

The women’s 50 included several strong contenders who got things going right from the start with Karen Jarchow (Topeak-Ergon) climbing away early with Jenny Smith (NoTubes) and Jen Hanks (Pivot/DNA Cycling) close behind.

Unfortunately for Smith, a fast downhill led to a flat tire and once that was fixed a malfunctioning dropper post would ultimately bring a premature end to her day.

While all this was going on Nicole Tittensor (Scott/Reynolds) moved into the second spot ahead of Hanks.

Once out front though Jarchow could not be stopped. Karen made several trips to St. George this winter to dial in the most challenging sections of the True Grit course and it showed. The Ergon rider breezed through the drops and slickrock on Zen and charged through the remaining miles of the lap taking a well-deserved win.

Nicole Tittensor finished second followed by Jen Hanks.

KC Holley (Kuhl) and Isnaraissa Moir (Juliana/MRP) took the final podium spots in fourth and fifth respectively.

Whether completing the 50 or 100 mile race the True Grit Epic again proved to be every bit the long, tough, and technical challenge it is advertised to be.

Next the NUE series heads east for the Cohutta 100 in Tennessee on April 30th. Be sure to follow MTB Race News for full reports and results from Cohutta and all the 2016 NUE series.

Click here for full results from 2016 True Grit Epic