NUE Wilderness 101 Marathon

Written by: @JenToops

Photos by: Bryan Lewis

The Wilderness 101 is a classic on the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series and is know for its rolling hills through amish country, long gravel roads, rail trails, tunnels and rocky east coast singletrack.  This year a new Marathon distance was added which is part of the NUE marathon series. W101 is hosted in Coburn, PA and organized by Shenandoah Mountain Tours.

One of two tunnels racers ride through near the finish line. Photo credit: Kayla Randolph

Flooding the previous week had racers wondering if racing was going to be possible, but the high waters receded and the weather was perfect on race day!  Camping was provided at the race start/finish which added to the overall race weekend experience.

Men’s Open

Petrylak gets FIRST NUE marathon win

Men’s Open- 1st-John Petrylak, 2nd-Dereck Treadwell, 3rd-Chris Shannon, 4th-Tyler Weston, 5th-Chris Tries

Taking the top step in the open men’s marathon race was, John Petrylak (Bike Factory/Norco Bicycles/Esi Grips), with a winning time of 5:01:38.  With this win, Petrylak now leads the NUE marathon open men’s division.

“After several days of heavy rain the clouds parted and the sun came out for race day at the Wilderness 101/101K!

On the first climb less than 5 minutes into the race Chris Shannon went mid-evil on the opening climb! This quickly dissolved the front group down from 6 riders down to 4 and eventually to just Dereck Treadwell and I chasing Chris to close the gap. Chris had a significant gap as he went over the top of the climb.
Dereck and I put in some big efforts and took some chances on the descent to close the gap. At last we all came back together at the bottom of the mountain; we were now a group of 3!
We worked very well together on the 27 miles of gravel through AS1 (27 miles in). After the aid station a long climb began to test out our group; Dereck Treadwell started up the climb at a serious pace. The elastic began to stretch and eventually it was just Dereck and I as we crest the top of long gravel ascent. We shortly entered the first piece of typical rocky single track together.
I was very comfortable in the technical stretches of trail and got around Dereck and just started having fun!
I was having so much fun I was able to get a little gap between myself and Dereck. Still feeling well I went for it solo for the last 35 miles. My risky plan worked as I was able to hold a few minutes on Dereck and Chris Shannon. At just a few seconds past 5 hours I was able to get my first NUE marathon series win!!!!!
Thanks to; Bike Factory Charlottesville, Norco Bikes, Athlos Sports, ESI grips, Carbo Rocket and Ride100%. “

About seven minutes back, Dereck Treadwell (Dr. Naylor, Treadwell Training, Kona), took second place in a time of 5:08:41.

Chris Shannon (Think Green, Bicycle Face), who set a blistering pace on the opening climb, claimed third place with a time of 5:19:25.

Women’s Open

Blanchard gets the top step

Women’s Open: 1st-Bryna Blanchard, 2nd-Jen Toops, 3rd-Olivia Shannon, 4th-Marilyn Rayner, 5th-Kayla Randolph

After finishing second at NUE Iron Mountain and NUE Mohican, Bryna Blanchard (BMB Racing), claims the top step in a time of 6:17:09.

“I finally got to put 2 hands in the air standing on the box this past weekend at the Wilderness 101 NUE marathon race. Every race is a learning experience and I tried to apply some new strategies based on past mistakes. Apparently the marathon distance is a bit subjective and open to race promotor’s interpretation. The Wilderness 101 inaugural “short” course was the longest single day mountain bike race I have completed. The distance concerned me based on my past two NUE performances, or lack there of, loosing a position in the final miles of racing. This time a few small changes in nutrition and pacing may have made a difference, by less than 1 minute over Jennifer Toops after 6+ hours of racing. The competition was tight as Jen attacked and disappeared up the first climb. With heavy legs I had to let her go, I needed to pace myself and hope my legs would open up. I rode next to Lara Richardson up the initial road climb and settled into my own pace, reminding myself of my goal to avoid the big slow down at the end. I knew I felt a bit overtrained going into this race and I had no idea how my body would react to another long hard day on the bike. During the first 20+ miles of dirt roads I found myself riding mostly alone, testing my legs and spinning out the lead at my own pace. Once I hit the first section of rocky slippery single track I felt good and happy to be riding the sweet familiar trails of central PA. At the end of each single track section I found myself wishing for more, even after sliding off the edge of No Name and landing 20 feet down the steep left bank. Luckily my bike landed on me instead of rocks and a very kind racer who witnessed the crash from behind offered to help me climb back up onto the trail. I’ve been down that trail many times with never a clean run, maybe next time. Despite the crash I felt my confidence increasing on the downhills and I was somehow able to stay ahead of Jen who is a mad descender. A few small mistakes at the end cost me some time, including an unnecessary water stop at the final aid station as a drank none of that bottle, missing a turn, and hitting a rock in the second less dark tunnel. Once again, live and learn, and improve for next time which may have to be the final NUE race at Big Bear Lake. Originally I was planning on completing just 4 races in the series but this is too much fun and I don’t feel like I’m done. I’m feeling very happy and satisfied with this win. Thanks again to the promotors, volunteers, fellow racers and friends for making these experiences possible and awesome. Thanks as always to Barker Mountain Bikes, team BMB, for the support and encouragement. Also thank you to Thierry Blanchet, my partner in life and riding, for always supporting me, putting up with my weird food and training schedule, organizing travel, driving me around, and being genuinely more excited for my results than I am.”

Finishing only under a minute back from Blanchard, 2017 NUE Marathon champion Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles), finished in 6:18:03.

“Going into wilderness I didn’t know what to expect. Word was it was mostly gravel except for about 10 miles of super rocky singletrack. I opted to ride my Pivot Les and put a little extra air pressure in my Continental cross kings for smooth sailing on those gravel roads.

The past month I spent some time out West and was feeling mentally refreshed. I was ready to race. We had a lead out car and were let loose on the first climb. I hung on to Lara’s wheel briefly but was feeling really good. I decided to “go” for it.

After being out of view, I worked with Scott Burrill for a bit on the gravel. Knowing Bryna was a powerhouse on road I tried to keep working hard. It was the first singletrack section  that I caught sight of Bryna’s pink helmet lingering behind me. I bombed the singletrack down hill opening up another gap. Bryna again fired back and ended up passing me on a double track climb.

I tried my best to keep her in sight, but she was slowly pulling away after the second aid station.  For some reason I was having terrible heartburn. It was unbearable. I got off my bike and found some CarboRocket Rocket Lytes, praying they would help knowing they had ginger in them.

Within a half hour, I found my second wind and the hunt was on! I pushed and pushed and pushed all the way to the finish, even setting some new power records along the way. I never saw her again in the race but ended up being less than a minute back on Bryna! Congrats to Bryna on a super strong race!

Next race: Pierre’s hole in Wyoming.

Sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot Cycles, CarboRocket, Ergon, Rotor, Stans, Continental, Xpedo, Honeystinger, Kasks Helmets, 100%”

Getting her first NUE podium spot, Olivia Shannon (Against the Grain Brewery), took third with a time of 6:39:31.

This race was different for me. I had raced two other NUE races and knew the competition was on a very high level. I chose to race my own race. Once I found out I was racing 75 miles instead of 63, I decided I was going to stick to my plan and focus on pacing and nutrition. That first climb quickly separated the pack. This was the toughest part of the race for me because I had to hold back so I could finish the strong. I tried to hold on to 4th place on the gravel section but was soon overtaken by three women. Knocked down and starting to get an upset stomach I came into the 1st aid station at a low point. My race changed when I finally reached the singletrack. I caught Marilyn Rayner in the first bit and soon caught up to Kayla Randolph on the next rocky section. I was shocked to see them on the trail. It lit my torch and my low point turned up quickly. After the second aid station (mile 45), I eventually passed the last female I would see the rest of the race. I crossed the finish line in third place in open women and was ecstatic. I accomplished my yearly goal of getting on the podium in an NUE series race. Thanks so much to my sponsors Against the Grain Brewery, Goose Creek Cycles, and Sword. Also a huge thanks to my husband and coach Chris Shannon of Progressive Endurance. Excited to see these ladies at Marji Gesick for the 50 miler in September!”


Toops makes in three in a row

Singlespeed- 1st-Anthony Toops, 2nd-Eli Orth, 3rd-Yianni Pimenidis, 4th-Josh Kunz

Getting his third consecutive NUE singlespeed marathon win,  Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing), finishing in a time of 5:36:07. With this win Toops now leads the NUE marathon singlespeed division.

“This was my first time racing wilderness and going into it I didn’t really know what to expect. I was told it was mostly gravel and some technical single-track with great climbs and fast descents. It turns out that was pretty accurate!

The race started off fairly relaxed until Josh started pushing the pace on the long first climb. My plan was to keep him in site and monitor my power so I didn’t push too hard at the start. I was able to tag on to a couple of geared racers and get pulled along, eventually catching up to Josh on the descent.

We all rode together for a while until the first singletrack section. I managed to get into there first so I upped the pace in an attempt to give myself some breathing room. The plan worked and I exited that section out of site. Eventually I was caught again by the geared racers from earlier which was a blessing! This race you definitely can benefit from a buddy, especially if you only have one gear!

The rest of the race I just tried to keep the pace high and stick with the small group. Eventually I managed to catch up to some of the 100mi single speed crew which was some much need motivation to get up those final climbs. After some rail trail soul searching and a couple dark tunnels I rolled across the line in first only a few minutes ahead of Eli Orth who was had been hunting me down.

This course can really beat you up with the rocky terrain and punishing climbs (stillhouse climb🤯). I may have to copy Jim’s ss setup for next season.  I used 32×19 gearing which worked well.

Race day was fun and the event was really well organized. Thanks to all the volunteers which were awesome and Paradise Garage for the continued support!

Next race is Pierre’s Hole in Wyoming.

Four minuts back was,  Eli Orth (Team Hungry) taking second with a time of 5:40:32.

“Wilderness was my 4th NUE marathon race of the season. Going into the race I had no idea what to expect. The marathon distance was new for Wilderness and was longer than the usual distance at 76 miles.

With the first looong climb Josh Kunz attacked it pretty hard while Anthony Toops and I hung back. Anthony then started to pull away from me on that same long fire road climb.

After the first 20 miles I settled in and started to turn it up a little more. I ended up catching up to Josh and passing him around mile 35 on a single track section. I felt like Josh would be back on my wheel at any time, so I continued to push hard hoping to also catch up to Anthony at some point, but I never did.

Overall it was a fun race with some tough climbing and some technical rocky sections. I was happy to get 2nd and improve on my 3rd place finish at Iron Mountain, and have a clean race with no mechanicals.

I ran a 34×20 gearing which I felt worked well. I was able to climb everything and still spin up and keep good speed on some flat sections.

My next NUE races will be Shenandoah and then Marji Gesick.

Sponsors/team: Team Hungry, Absolute Black”

Rounding out the podium in third place, Yianni Pimenidis finished in 6:22:04.


Clayton gets his fourth win

Masters: 1st-Jeff Clayton, 2nd- Scott Burrill, 3rd-Chris Torrance, 4th-Bruce Moore, 5th-Nate Cross

Getting his fourth NUE masters marathon win, Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) finished in 5:44:58. Clayton now leads the series with a perfect score of 4!

“I had hoped there would be a sizable masters turnout for the marathon Wilderness race, but a few days before the race only 10 had signed up. I was glad to see Scott Burrill was one of them since he has been a great competitor. Despite the creeks and low lying areas being inundated by runoff from the recent heavy rain most of the trails and roads I was able to preride were in pretty good condition. I expected a pretty tame first hour or so of racing based on my last time at wilderness in 2016, but an immediate solo attack and subsequent response by a few of the fastest guys made for a quick splitting of the group. I stayed in contact with the leaders for awhile but had to back off when the road kicked up even more. A short while later the usual single speeders came cruising by, led by Anthony Toops. The good news was Scott was not tagging along with them. I settled into my anaerobic threshold pace and enjoyed the scenery, especially on the descents. Sooner than I expected the course merged with the epic course and I immediately started passing riders…a nice morale booster! Even though I’m not a great rock garden rider, I enjoyed the challenge of the sass and sasspig trails and did my best to stay on the wheel of Scott Mormon and another guy when they passed me. The subsequent road climb and climb/descent of beautiful/no name trails went well enough and I anticipated picking off more riders on the long climb up  still house hollow rd. It shouldn’t have surprised me to see Eli Orth grinding up the road right behind me…he is a singlespeeder who I usually end up riding with a bunch in races. We passed Chris Tries near the top and Eli pulled away never to be seen again. I gapped Chris for awhile, but on the flat rail trail section he motored up to me even though I was hammering in my 34-9 gear. We chatted a bit and he slowly pulled away on the last significant road climb of the day. From there it was awful hike a bike, lots of muddy puddles, pedestrian avoidance, scary tunnels and on to the finish. I enjoyed racing the marathon distance this year, especially since it meant doing a couple of really fun marathon distance only races. Thanks to the race promoters, volunteers, fellow competitors, and especially my wife Jodi, who is so supportive of my racing escapades.”

Scott Burrill ( took second with a time of 6:45:07 and Chris Torrance rounded out the podium in third finishing in 7:04:18.

Click here for full results.

Click here for event photos (by Bryan Lewis of Cutaway USA)

What’s next on the NUE Epic and Marathon Series? NUE Pierre’s Hole in Alta, WY on August 4th, 2018. Click here for info on Pierre’s Hole.