Pisgah Stage Race- Stage 5 and Overall Results

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

Photos: Icon Media Asheville

Saturday, April 16th, 2022

The final stage of the 2022 Pisgah Stage Race is Industry Nine’s The Land of Waterfalls Route, named for the 250+ waterfalls in Transylvania County. The scenic route is 27 miles with 2301 feet in elevation gain that hits Butter Gap and Davidson River trails. Racers had a cold & wet morning to start but by the end of the stage the sun was shining bright. The final descent heads down the enduro, Bracken Mountain, and racers finish at Brevard Music center for awards and dinner.

Chris Tries (Men’s Masters) congratulated by Race Director Todd Branham of Blue Ridge Adventures
2019-PisgahStageRace-Online-Stage5

Stage 5 Results

Women’s Open:

Kaysee Armstrong had a strong lead heading into the final stage. It was a battle for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th overall positions between Kait Boyle, Jocelyn Stel, and Taylor Kuyk-White who were only separated by a few minutes. It was unsure if Jocelyn Stel would be racing the final stage as she broke her frame on the Pilot rock descent on stage 4, but she was able to rent a bike for the day.

Kaysee Armstrong is all smiles after 5 stage wins!

Kaysee Armstrong took the stage 5 win, crowning her the overall cross county women’s winner. Kait Boyle finished strong and took 2nd, moving into 2nd overall. Taylor Kuyk-White was able to take Jocelyn on the final stage and finished 3rd moving her into the 3rd overall position.

Stage 5 women’s open podium: 1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Kait Boyle, 3rd Taylor Kuyk-White

1st-Kaysee Armstrong 2:08:40

2nd-Kait Boyle 2:20:29

3rd-Taylor Kuyk-White 2:27:46

Men’s Open:

Kerry Werner had a comfortable lead heading into the final stage and was able to finish just a minute behind Carson Beckett and take the overall win. Carson Beckett was able to win stage 5 and finished 2nd overall. Cypress Gorry had another impressive finish taking 3rd on stage 5 and holding onto 3rd overall.

Stage 5 men’s open podium: 1st Carson Beckett, 2nd Kerry Werner, 3rd Cypress Gorry

1st-Carson Beckett 1:55:09

2nd-Kerry Werner 1:56:18

3rd-Cypress Gorry 1:57:22

Bracken Mountain Stage 5 Enduro

The final enduro was held on Bracken Mountain with a 1733 foot descent and 4.75 miles long. This was a fast flowing enduro with switchbacks and long pedal sections finishing at the Brevard Music Center.

Women’s Enduro:

Stage 5 women’s enduro podium: 1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Kait Boyle, 3rd Jen Toops

1st-Kaysee Armstrong 24:16

2nd-Kait Boyle 26:30

3rd-Jen Toops 27:09

Jen Toops- racing co-ed duo with husband Anthony Toops snags a 3rd place enduro podium on the last stage.

Men’s Enduro:

Stage 5 men’s enduro podium: 1st Carson Beckett, 2nd Cypress Gorry, 3rd Kerry Werner

1st-Carson Beckett 21:15

2nd-Cypress Gorry 21:46

3rd-Kerry Werner 22:20

Watch the video recap!

Overall Pisgah Stage Race results

Women’s open:

Overall Cross Country women’s open podium: 1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Kait Boyle, 3rd Taylor Kuyk-White

1st-Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) Knoxville, TN 13:02:40

2nd-Kait Boyle (Industry Nine- Pivot Pro Backcountry Team) Victor, ID 13:52:43

3rd-Taylor Kuyk-White (Philly Bike Expo P/B Industry Nine) Philadelphia, PA 13:59:14

4th-Jocelyn Stel (Cyclepath Oakville) Burlington, Ontario 14:08:11

5th-Nina Machnowski (Brevard College/Pivot Cycles/Pearl Izumi) Brevard, NC 15:42:53

Overall Pisgah Stage Race results

Men’s open:

Overall cross country men’s open podium: 1st Kerry Werner, 2nd Carson Beckett, 3rd Cypress Gorry

1st-Kerry Werner (Kona Adventure Team) Vinton, VA 10:39:44

2nd-Carson Beckett (Brevard College/Dirt Camp Devo) Brevard, NC 10:52:18

3rd-Cypress Gorry (Ride Kanuga/Specialized) Pisgah Forest, NC 11:21:02

4th-Nick Bragg (The Black Bibs/Starlight) Asheville, NC 11:26:55

5th-Kurt Refsnider (Industry Nine-Pivot Pro Backcountry Team) Prescott, AZ 11:43:43

Overall Women’s Enduro results:

1st-Kait Boyle (Industry Nine-Pivot Pro Backcountry Team) Victor, ID 1:08:51

2nd-Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) Knoxville, TN 1:09:12

3rd-Taylor Kuyk-White (Philly Bike Expo P/B Industry Nine) Philadelphia, PA 1:13:48

4th-Annie Schwartz (Team Noah Foundation) Saint Louis, MO 1:15:01

5th-Jen Toops (Pearl izumi/Pivot Cycles MTB Race Team) Marion, OH 1:17:08

Overall women’s enduro podium: 1st Kait Boyle, 2nd Kaysee Armstrong 3rd Taylor Kuyk-White

Overall Men’s Enduro results:

1st-Cypress Gorry (Ride Kanuga/Specialized) Pisgah Forest, NC 54:37

2nd-Kerry Werner (Kona Adventure Team) Vinton, VA 57:31

3rd-Carson Beckett (Brevard College/Dirt Camp Devo) Brevard, NC 58:55

4th-Ian Blythe (Flow Formulas TranPerfect) Broomfield, CO 1:00:29

5th-Nick Mackie, West Palm, FL 1:01:41

Overall men’s enduro podium: 1st Cypress Gorry, 2nd Kerry Werner 3rd Carson Beckett

CLICK HERE for overall stage results

Thank you to Blue Ridge Adventures team for putting on a great event!

Pisgah Stage Race- Stage 2

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

Athletic Brewing CO’s Promise Land Route

Stage 2: Todays stage started with a police escort out of the Black Mountain trail head on 6.2 miles of pavement leading racers to the Turkey Pen area where the race started full gas. From here stage 2 showcased that true “Pisgah” style with technical roots and rocks. This stage had the highest amount of single track and included popular trails such as Mullinex, Squirrel Gap and Buckhorn Gap. Racers endured a long hike-a-bike up to Buckhorn Gap but were rewarded with the full Black Mountain decent all the way to the finish line.

Women’s Open:

1st- Kaysee Armstrong 2 hours 53 minutes

2nd-Kait Boyle 2 hours 59 minutes

3rd- Jocelyn Stel 3 hours 2 minutes.

Kaysee leads the overall women after stage 2 with Kait Boyle moving into 2nd and Jocelyn Stel 3rd.

Women’s Stage 2 Open Podium: 1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Kait Boyle, 3rd Jocelyn Stel

Men’s Open:

1st- Carson Beckett 2 hours 18 mintues

2nd- Kerry Werner 2 hours 19 minutes

3rd- Tyler Clark 2 hours 20 minutes.

In the men’s open Kerry Werner takes the overall lead, followed by Tyler Clark 2nd and Cypress Gorry in third.

Men’s Stage 2 Open Podium: 1st Carson Beckett, 2nd Kerry Werner, 3rd Tyler Clark

Stage 2 Enduro was the Black Mountain descent. Black Mountain is one of the most popular trails in Pisgah with a mix of flow and technical riding losing 1320 feet over 2 miles.

2015PisgahStageRace-OnlineEnduro-Stage2

Women’s Open:

1st- Kait Boyle 9 minutes 12 seconds

2nd- Hannah Arensman 9 minutes thirty-five seconds

3rd- Kaysee Armstrong 9 minutes thirty-six seconds

Kait Boyle took the lead for the overall enduro going into stage 3. Hannah Arensman in second and Kaysee Armstrong in third.

Women’s Enduro: 1st Kait Boyle 9:12, 2nd Hannah Arensman, 3rd Kaysee Armstrong

Men’s Open:

1st- Tyler Clark 7 minutes thirty-seven seconds

2nd- Kerry Werner 7 minutes forty-three seconds

3rd- Cypress Gorry 7 minutes forty-six seconds.

Heading into stage 3, Tyler Clark is leading the overall enduro, Kerry Werner in second and Cypress Gorry in third.

Men’s Enduro: 1st Tyler Clark, 2nd Kerry Werner, 3rd Cypress Gorry
Cypress Gorry

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

Photos by: Icon Media Ashville

CLICK HERE for full results from each stage

Pisgah Stage Race- Stage 1

Blue Ridge Adventures

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

Squirts Looking Glass Route

For 2022, a new opening stage was unveiled, making it logistically easier on everyone. This allowed racers to start and finish in the same location for 3 days in a row. The new opening stage had a 5 mile warm up ride from the on the Brevard pathway. After arriving at the Railroad Depot park, the 15.5 mile adventure begins with a heart pumping climb up Bracken Mountain, a mix of machine built trails, showcasing the newest trail Stoney Knob, and a high speed Enduro down Joel Branch.

  • 15.5 miles / 25 km
  • 2,200 ft / 670 m  elevation gain
  • Named for Looking Glass Rock – a nearly 4,000′ tall piece of exposed whiteside granite

Women’s open:

Coming off racing the Cape Epic and the Lifetime Grand Prix, Kaysee Armstrong (Liv), from Knoxville, TN, took the win with a time of 1:20:30. Taking second with a time of 1:23:14 was, Jocelyn Stel (Liv), making the trek down from Canada to race. Rounding out the women’s open podium was, Taylor Kuyk-White (Philly Bike Expo, Industry Nine) with a time of 1:24:55

Women’s Open Podium-1st: Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd: Jocelyn Stel, 3rd: Taylor Kuyk-White

Men’s Open:

A very close race in the men’s open division. Local Cypress Gorry (Ride Kanuga Specialized), took the win on stage 1 finishing with a time of 1:08:09. Hot on his heels was another local, Tyler Clark (Brevard College), taking second with a time of 1:08:11.0. PSR veteran, Kerry Werner (Kona) from VA, rounded out the podium with a time of 1:08:11.04. This will be an exciting division to watch over the next few stages!

Men’s Open Podium- 1st: Cypress Gorry, 2nd: Tyler Clark, 3rd: Kerry Werner

Enduro: Within each stage of the Pisgah Stage Race there’s a timed Enduro segment. Racers are competing not only for bragging rights but also a cash purse given out to the overall top female and male riders at the end of the 5 stages.

Todays enduro was an all-out attack down the Joel Branch gravel forest road. Riders had to manage maintaining speed throughout the segment, with a lack of traction in the corners. The gravel definitly presented a new challenge for an enduro win.

Women’s Enduro:

1st: Hannah Arensman 6:16.4, 2nd: Kait Boyle 6:16.6, 3rd: Jocelyn Stel 6:22.3

Women’s Enduro podium-1st: Hannah Arensman, 2nd: Kait Boyle, 3rd: Jocelyn Stel

Men’s Enduro:

1st: Cypress Gorry 5:35.5, 2nd: Kerry Werner 5:35.5, 3rd: Tyler Clark 5:36

Men’s Enduro Podium: 1st: Cypress Gorry, 2nd: Kerry Werner, 3rd: Tyler Clark

CLICK HERE for full results from Stage 1

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

Life Time Grand Prix Sea Otter Classic 80k

Moriah Wilson & Keegan Swenson Life Time Grand Prix Round 1

Moriah Wilson (Specialized) turned in perhaps the most impressive ride of the day in Monterrey, California, being known as more of a gravel rider, she was able to drop a mountain bike olympian and a reigning mountain bike national champion on her way to the finish.

Wilson rode strong in the front group all day coming into the final climb with US marathon national champion Alexis Skarda (Santa Cruz HT Squad) and Argentine olympic rider Sofia Gomez Villafane (Specialized) before turning the screws opening a gap that she held to the line.

Gomez Villafane held on for second just in front of Alexis Skarda.

In the men’s event Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz HT Squad) controlled the race from start to finish. Swenson’s early pace created the first selection trimming the field to a select group of seven with Russell Finsterwald (Specialized), Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz HT Squad), Andrew L’Esperance, Cole Paton (Orange Seal), Lance Haidet, and Alex Wild.

The relentless pace trimmed the lead group even more until Swenson, Wild, and Finsterwald coalesced at the front. On the final climb another acceleration from Keegan Swenson decided the race with Wild dropping off first followed by Finsterwald.

Open Women

  1. Moriah Wilson (Specialized) 3.24.16
  2. Sofia Gomez Villafane +0.20
  3. Alexis Skarda +0.29
  4. Lea Davison +0.59
  5. Evelyn Dong +1.30
  6. Haley Smith
  7. Hannah Otto
  8. Rose Grant
  9. Savilia Blunk
  10. Katerina Nash
  11. Kaysee Armstrong
  12. Sarah Sturm
  13. Anna Yamauchi
  14. Melisa Rollins
  15. Emily Newsom
  16. Hannah Wood

Click Here for Full Results

Open Men

  1. Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz HT Squad) 2.55.23
  2. Russell Finsterwald (Specialized) +0.18
  3. Alex Wild +1.07
  4. Tobin Ortenblad +4.27
  5. Andrew L’Esperance +4.29
  6. Lance Haidet +4.29
  7. Cole Paton +4.30
  8. Kyle Trudeau +4.31
  9. Alexey Vermeulen +4.31
  10. Robert Britton +6.15
  11. Lachlan Morton
  12. Ryan Standish
  13. Stefano Barberi
  14. Taylor Lideen
  15. Alex Howes
  16. Adam Roberge
  17. Dylan Johnson
  18. Bradyn Lange
  19. Geoff Kabush
  20. Blake Wray

Click Here for Full Results From All Categories

Nash and Kabush win Moab Rocks!

The final stage of Moab Rocks was a close one for the pro women and men. In today’s stage racers do a lollipop course that hits some of the best riding in Moab – the Mag 7 trail system. 

For the first half of the race, riders are climbing up road and single track for 14 miles.  After a challenging climb, then the fun begins as they descend the rocky and fast Bull Run Trail.  This is a rip-roaring descent that takes in some breath-taking views all the way to the La Sal Mountains.  After a long descent, there is one final road climb out and then it’s a fast coast to the finish line. 

Photo Credit @liketheglew

For the pro women, Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) won the women’s race by 3 minutes while second through sixth place all finished within 3 minutes of each other. 

Lauren Cantwell (Orbea/ Velocio) and Karen Jarchow (Revel Bikes) were climbing together in 2nd & 3rd position before Jarchow sent it on the Bull Run descent; gapping Cantwell.  Lauren Aggeler (Team Segment 28) caught Cantwell at the bottom of Bull Run but Cantwell fought back on the road and caught both her and Jarchow. 

Aggeler put the hammer down on the final climb out of the Gemini Bridges riding area and caught a draft on the final flat, catching Cantwell just 200 yards from the finish. Cantwell and Aggeler sprinted finish for second place with Aggeler crossing the line (2:23:49) and Cantwell 2 seconds behind at 2:23:51.

For the overall, Nash dominated the 3 days finishing over 20 minutes ahead of second place.

Jennifer Gersbach finished fifth on two of the stages but her strong race on stage 2 at Klondike Bluffs placed her runner-up overall.

Karen Jarchow finished fourth on stage 3 by less than a minute and solidified third overall for the stage race.  It was a strong women’s pro field with new women on the podium each stage.  

Photo Credit @liketheglew

For the pro men, Stephan Davoust (Giant-Maxxis-Fox) pushed hard trying to take on the reigning Moab Rocks champion, Geoff Kabush (Yeti-Maxxis-Shimano-Fox).  Davoust won today’s stage in a time of 1:56:55.  His time however, was not enough to win the GC with Kabush finishing in second only 16 seconds behind him.   Bradyn Lange (Cycle Progression) finished in third (1:59:01). 

For the GC, Kabush remains the Moab Rocks Champion winning the overall by a mere 15 seconds.  Davoust finished right behind him with Lange 2 minutes back in third place. 

The 2022 Moab Rocks race featured another year of strong competition, a great race atmosphere by TransRockies and epic Moab single track that keeps racers coming back year after year. 

Full Results: https://zone4.ca/event/2022/29F4F1AE/

Photo Credit @liketheglew

Moab Rocks – Stage 2- Katerina Nash Widens Her Lead While Geoff Kabush Moves Into 1st Place 

Early this morning racers shuttled to the Klondike Bluffs trail system 20 minutes north of Moab where they battled through 25 miles of vast rocky trail system racing with a combination of slickrock trails and fast flowy single track.

Peter Stetina leads the pro men’s field onto the slickrock. Photo by: Noah Sears

Today’s course, on the Klondike Bluffs trail system, had over 2200’ of elevation gain in the most XC stage of the race.  Racers mentioned their favorite parts being the incredible views on Alaska Ridge and the awesome Moab experience of climbing and descending grippy slickrock!

For the pro women, Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) increased her overall lead finishing 6 minutes ahead of the women’s pro field (2:12:56).  Jennifer Gersbach finished a strong race today in 2nd place (2:18:06) only 13 seconds ahead of Lauren Cantwell (Orbea/Velocio) (2:18:19).

Jen Gersbach crushed stage 2 moving up 3 spots in the GC. Photo by: Noah Sears

Nash took off from the start with Cantwell in 2nd place.  Cantwell was in 2nd place for most of the race but at the end of the last descent she made a technical miscue that let Gersbach flash by. She lost the group she was riding with and with a strong headwind heading to the finish, Cantwell wasn’t able to catch back on finishing 3rd.

 For the GC, Nash leads by 16 minutes while Gersbach moves from 5th into 2nd place. Karen Jarchow (Revel Bikes) rounds out the top three women’s podium only 1 minute 20 seconds back from 2nd place.   

Bradyn Lange looks to shake things up in stage 2. Photo by Noah Sears

For the pro men, Geoff Kabush (Yeti-Maxxis-Shimano-Fox) won today’s stage by over 40 seconds. Starting off the race Kabush was in a large lead group in the early slickrock sections.  Bradyn Lange (Cycle Progression) and Carter Nieuwesteeg (Santa Cruz) were leading on Baby Steps trail followed by Kabush then GC leader Stephan Davoust (Giant-Maxxis-Fox)  and Ivan Sippy (Team Durango). 

In the middle sectors of the race Kabush pushed ahead taking a huge lead and finishing solo in 1st place. A multi-time Moab Rocks winner, it’s not surprising to see Kabush on the top step of the podium as he holds off his younger challengers for the GC.  Lange finished close behind in 2nd place (1:54:08) with Stephan Davoust less than a minute back in third place (1:54:12).

Geoff Kabush going solo to win stage 2 and jump into the lead on GC. Photo by: Noah Sears

 Kabush moves into 1st overall leading the pro men’s field by 30 seconds (3:35:01).  Davoust is in 2nd (3:35:32) with Lange only 4 seconds back in 3rd place (3:35:36).

Tomorrow is the final day of Moab Rocks as racers compete on the Mag 7 trail system.  With shake ups in both the men’s and women’s field, it will be exciting final race.

Full results at: https://zone4.ca/event/2022/29F4F1AE/

Carter Nieuwesteeg rallies on the Klondike Bluffs trails. Photo by: Noah Sears

Moab Rocks 3-Day Stage Race – Stage 1

The legendary Moab Rocks 3-day stage race started this morning in downtown Moab, UT.   It was a beautiful day with warm temperatures as racers started off to the classic Transrockies tune of “Highway to Hell”.  The course began with a difficult 13 mile climb up Sand Flats Road as riders gained over 3000’ of elevation.  Once at the top they turned onto Porcupine Rim where they were rewarded with an exhilarating 10-mile descent down one of the most iconic mountain bike trails in the world. 

Photo Credit @mnykphotos

For the pro women, Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) started strong and stayed in the lead for the entire race finishing in a time of 1:58:51.  Helena Plasschaert was 2nd up the Sand Flats climb but was passed by Karen Jarchow (Revel Bikes) on the descent.  Jarchow finished 2nd in a time of 2:05:49. Liza Hartlaub finished in 3rd place, less then a minute back from Jarchow (2:06:28).

Photo Credit @mnykphotos

For the pro men, the lead 15 men stayed together up the Sand Flats climb until two miles from the top when Peter Stetina started to attack and the group was split up.  It was reigning US marathon national champion Stephan Davoust (Giant-Maxxis-Fox), who won the stage in a time of 1:41:19.

Less then 10 seconds back, Bradyn Lange (Cycle Progression) finished 2nd place (1:41:27) followed by multi-time Moab Rocks winner and Olympian, Geoff Kabush (Yeti-Maxxis-Shimano-Fox) in 3rd place (1:41:37).  With the top three men less than 20 seconds apart, it’s going to be an exciting race.

Photo Credit @mnykphotos

Stay tuned as tomorrow racers take on the Klondike Bluffs Trail System.

See full results at: https://zone4.ca/event/2022/29F4F1AE/

Photo Credit @mnykphotos

True Grit Epic 2022

Melisa Rollins & Danny Van Wagoner Open Endurance Season with Big Wins at True Grit Epic 50-Miler

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

After two years of snow storms and mud, True Grit race director Cimarron Chacon was more than pleased to see clear skies and warm temperatures as racers approached the start next to the red rock walls of the historic Santa Clara courthouse for the 8 AM start.

Melisa Rollins powered her way to a win in the True Grit 50. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

With more than 850 starters, True Grit represents the first leg of the National Ultra Endurance series and the first mass-start mountain bike event of the season. For more than a decade True Grit has challenged riders with technical desert singletrack riding that will both punish and delight.

Offering distances from 15 to 100 miles, in the warm desert of southern Utah, True Grit is the first opportunity for riders from across the country to stretch their legs and test their abilities on the dirt.

With most riders electing for the 50-mile distance, a tough battle was on hand as idyllic conditions promised lightning fast finishing times.

Riders weave their way through the rocks at True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Women’s 50-Mile

The women’s event promised tough racing with a host of elite athletes returning to battle in this early-season test.

Melisa Rollins (Virginia’s Blue Ridge/Twenty24) took the early lead out through Cove Wash and the undulating climbs of Green Valley. The duo of Liza Hartlaub and Mya Graham (Waite Endurance) chased close behind followed by Sparky Moir (Fezzari/MRP/Ergon), Nicole Tittensor (Jans/Scott), Lauren Zimmer (Bingham Cyclery/Peak Fasteners), and Jen Hanks (Pearl Izumi).

Jen Hanks flows through the rocks on Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Despite previous crashes at True Grit Melisa Rollins rode without fear through the daunting Barrel and Zen trails never relinquishing her lead.

After exiting Zen, Rollins held just over a minute lead on Hartlaub who had opened a gap to Graham.

Now at the halfway mark, Melisa Rollins upped her pace, hammering out some hard miles through the long Stucki Springs climb and onto the final Barrel Roll trail system.

By the finish she had doubled her advantage on second-placed Liza Hartlaub, and crossed the line in a blistering 3:55:50.

Hartlaub came home just 3 minutes back with an equally impressive time of under 4 hours.

Mya Graham takes on Zen trail on her way to third place for the day. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Mya Graham crossed the line with a well-deserved third place.

Sparky Moir rode strong in fourth throughout the day. Moir showcased her desert riding skill holding off Jen Hanks, while both shed Tittensor and Zimmer through the treacherous Zen trail before settling in with a steady pace to the finish.

The final podium spot was decided in the finishing miles after Hanks flatted on the last descent of the day allowing KC Holley (Kuhl) to sprint past less than a mile from the finish line.

Men’s 50-Mile

Things heated up fast for the men as an elite group powered at the front from the very start. After a rapid opening climb and a safe pass through Cove Wash, Danny Van Wagoner (Johnson Elite Orthodontics) moved to the front as the singletrack started in Keyhole wash, a deep ravine where riders are forced to ride single file.

Chris Holley leads the chase group on Zen trail. Zach Calton crests the slickrock. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Feeling confident, Van Wagoner opened a gap and kept the pressure on throughout the opening miles. “While it felt early to roll solo,” Van Wagoner said, “I looked at my numbers and felit I was riding sustainably. I was hoping the hard pace would allow some margin for error through the technical sections of the Waterfall, Barrel, and Zen trails.”

Van Wagoner’s early pace paid off as Zach Calton (Calton Coaching) suffered a flat while trying to keep his gap to the leader at a minimum on the Barrel trail. This left Cameron Larson (Summit Bike Club) second on course dangling between 1-2 minutes from the leader.

With his flat repaired, Calton started moving his way back toward the front eventually picking up Chad Berentsen (No Ride Around). The duo focused their effort on bringing back Van Wagoner who had pulled away from Cameron Larson on the false flats of Stucki Springs.

MTB legend Dave Wiens challenged himself with the 3-day stage race in Santa Clara, Utah. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Eventually the chasers caught and passed a fading Larson with only Van Wagoner left out front.

The solo leader had gauged his efforts well and showed no signs of slowing on the final lap around the Barrel Roll trail. Attacking the final climbs and slicing his line through the technical rock features Danny Van Wagoner finished off an impressive day taking a solo win in Santa Clara.

Zach Calton and Berentsen kept it close in the final miles of the race with Calton opening the smallest of gaps to take the runner-up spot just 23 seconds in front of Berentsen.

Nick Gould attacks the rocks. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Fourth went to Colorado ultra-endurance strongman Nick Gould (Mazda Lauf Factory Gravel) who was battling in a 3-man group for the podium. After Chris Holley (Kuhl) missed a final turn to the finish Gould and Blair Perkes (Kuhl) snuck through with all three finishing within seconds of each other.  

Gwendolyn Sepp and Nick Bragg Win the 100-Mile

The 100-mile race in Santa Clara saw smaller than normal numbers as most of the 865 racers opted to compete in the 50-mile distance or the stage race that included a gravel race on Sunday.

The women’s 100-miler saw mother/daughter duo to Allyson and Gwendolyn Sepp both take on the challenge of 100-miles on their home trails in southern Utah. Gwendolyn, a college athlete for Utah State University, took the win over her mom with a time of 8:54:30.

Allyson (Red Rock Bicycle) came home at 9:26:17.

Roger Arnell takes on the 100-mile True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Nick Bragg (Sycamore Cycles Collection) took the men’s title in a nail-biter over Utahn Roger Arnell (Johnson Elite Orthodontics).

Bragg’s winning time of 7:05:17 was just 2 minutes faster than Arnell, an impressively close race after 100 miles.

Brian Elander (No Ride Around)  finished third ahead of Jonas Woodruff (Next Wave Development). Joshua Tootell took the final podium spot in fifth.

Tony Rago hits the tuck position on Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

The masters 50+ group went to local speedster Jonathan Davis (Elevated Legs) with a finishing time just under 8 hours.

Second went to NUE veteran Greg Golet (Team Chico/Carborocket). Golet finished with just over a minute in hand from Amir Mattiyahu (Trail Head Racing) who took third.

Race Notes

Massive junior numbers were on hand for the 2022 True Grit Epic with hundreds of kids under-18 taking part in junior men’s and women’s categories as well as the open.

Large junior fields were on hand for the 2022 True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

True Grit Epic offers a 3-day stage race which includes a 90-mile gravel race on Sunday. Melisa Rollins and Zach Calton took wins in the 3-day event.

MTB legend Dave Wiens challenged himself with the 3-day stage race in Santa Clara, Utah. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Justin Holle doing damage to his competitors in singlespeed. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Liza Hartlaub navigates Zen trail at the 2022 True Grit. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Bob Saffell takes on the 100-mile. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Jeff Kerkove enjoyed his time in the saddle in Santa Clara. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Jen Hanks flows through the rocks on Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Brad Keyes braved a day on the singlespeed. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Holly Haguewood puts her local knowledge to the test in Santa Clara. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Riders charge through the desert with Santa Clara in the background. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Riders navigate rocks above and below on the Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Large junior fields were on hand for the 2022 True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Shannon Boffeli grunts his way to second place in the SS race. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Tony Rago hits the tuck position on Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Halle Britton on her way to second place in the junior women’s 50 miler. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Riders had fun while challenging themselves in the southern Utah desert. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Bri Hoopes shows the way through Zen Trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
A feeling shared by most riders at the 2022 True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Click Here for Full Results From All Categories

You can follow Shannon on Instagram @ Shan__Solo

NUE- Marji Gesick 100k

NUE Series 2021-Marji Gesick 50 mile

September 18, 2021

Written by: @Jentoops

The Marji Gesick is a point-to-point endurance race located on the upper peninsula of Michigan. It starts in Marquette and ends in downtown Ishpeming. The one-hundred mile and fifty mile mountain bike races are part of the National Ultra Endurance Series. There is also a one-hundred mile run, fifty mile run and one-hundred mile duathlon option. It’s quickly gaining popularity as one of the toughest endurance races in the United States and sells out in less than twenty four hours. This GPS required race is self supported, and racers are required to collect tokens at random checkpoints along the course.

Race director Todd Poquette collecting tokens from finishers. Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

The course was designed by Danny Hill and made to push riders to their absolute limits. The one-hundred milers having around twelve-thousand vertical feet of climbing, and the fifty milers around seven-thousand.  In both courses, racers have to navigate through sand, roots, rocks, off camber climbs, drops, jump lines and technical descents, all while saving enough energy to get through the grueling last fifteen miles.

Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

Racers in the one-hundred mile course finishing under twelve hours for mountain biking, under twenty-eight hours for runners and under twenty-two hours for duathlon, will earn the coveted belt buckle handmade by blacksmith Gordon Gearhart.

Marji Awards hand forged by Gordon Gearhart. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Women’s open- Lowery gets the top step

No stranger to the Marji Gesick races, Carey Lowery of Tennessee, won with a time of 8:14:19. “The 50 started in Marquette at the Ore Dock.  The first two miles were flat, paved, and faster thanI wanted to go so early into the race so I let the front go and settled into a comfortably hard pace.  After climbing Marquette Mountain, I settled into a rhythm of attacking the climbs, recovering on the flats, and finding my flow state on the descents.  I had no idea how many women were ahead of me, but I thought maybe 2 or 3.  I did not chase them, but let my legs and lungs dictate my efforts.  I have done enough of these endurance events to know to be consistent and conserve.  I felt great heading into Jackson Park, where I stopped to grab my hydration pack. I caught Kim Heintz a little ways after the first stop in Jackson.  I elected to keep my GPS screen on the breadcrumb trail and not watch “the numbers.”  I raced more by feel and knew how far I was by distinct landmarks.  I rolled back into Jackson Park, rewarded myself with an ice cold Coke, refilled my nutrition and fluids, and headed back out for the last 15.  I had pre ridden this two days before, so it was comforting to know just how far (both time-wise and distance) I had to go.  As I approached the rock slab hike a bike, I cried out, “My favorite section!,” which helped to stoke the fires for the final miles.  I did not pass any other women.  The last bit of single track was a real bugger, as the fatigue monster was riding piggyback.  I was all smiles going up Jasper Knob, as I was smelling the barn now.  I rolled through the finish line in 8:14, not knowing how I placed.  It wasn’t until after I had gotten cleaned up and changed 15 minutes later that I realized I had taken the win.  That was just icing on a wonderfully delicious Marji Gesick cake! Sponsors:  Rescue Racing, Scott’s Bikes, Industry 9, Chamois Butt’r, Christopher Bean Coffee, Trucker Co”

Women’s 50 mile podium: 1st Carey Lowery, 2nd Amy Schultz, 3rd Kim Heintz

About thirteen minutes back, Amy Schultz from Wisconsin, took second in 8:27:09. “This was my first time racing Marji Gesick 50, my longest mountain bike event ever, and honestly my longest bike ride ever (road, gravel, or mtb!). The longest I had ridden my mtb prior to Marji Gesick was about 5 hours for a non-race ride. I do put in a significant amount of volume on bikes throughout the year, but typically focus on shorter XCO races (such as the WORS series in Wisconsin) and cyclocross races. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I would have fun as I love technical singletrack. And I was right, I just loved the course. It suited me well. I started out near the back at ~200 of 240 racers. I was worried about going out too hard and not pacing myself. So I thought this was a good idea. However, when I reached the first climb, a gravel road, and a lot of people were walking already or riding pretty slowly, I realized I should maybe change my strategy. I decided to push the effort a bit to get ahead of as many people as I could before the first stretch of single track, Off Grade, a black rated uphill. However, I didn’t quite get ahead of enough people. I ended up behind a train of ~30-40 people on the singletrack. It was painful to walk and not rip that stretch at the speed I wanted. But, it allowed me to chat with some local riders, something I never get to do in shorter, hard-effort races. I met Trent and Luke and we eventually hit some double track, passed the rest of the group, and rode the iron ore trail to Ishpeming together. Luke didn’t stop at the checkpoint and I lost track of Trent, but it was so nice having them to ride with! I stopped at the drop bags to eat and refill. I was pretty strict about eating something every 30 min and drinking 1 liter an hour. I caught the wheel of Dan in the next techy section. He asked if I wanted to pass, but I decided it was probably a good strategy to stay with people. Time went by fast when I followed a wheel and chatted, also, when I went solo I tended to go too hard up hills and I was worried about bonking. I really enjoyed loved riding with Dan. He was a good technical rider and I rode some steeper parts I probably would not have otherwise. I eventually passed him and caught a few more wheels. The next guy I rode with told me I was only about 30 min from first place female, and I thought, “no way! I started in the way back and was so slow through the first 12 miles of single track” I decided I couldn’t and shouldn’t push the pace though. I should just ride a comfortable pace. I still had a lot of miles left – about half the race left. At the second pass through Jackson park to get my drop bag for the last time, about mile 40, the lady working there told me the 1st place woman just left the stop 5 min ago. I couldn’t believe I had potentially made up some time.  I sort of wanted to try to catch her, but I was tired and knew I had a long way. I also just wanted to eat and refuel in the moment. Furthermore, I was convinced I was maybe disqualified as I had not seen any checkpoints with tokens, which are needed when you cross the finish line. I carried on and decided I would stop at all remaining aid stations (I had skipped all up until then, except the Jackson Park drop bag stops). I stopped and had brownies, cookies, licorice and even stopped at the beach aid station and took a shot of whiskey with the crew there! I think it was the pick-me-up I needed, because after that stop, I had a second wind and some fast segments on the last single track stretches. Thank you aid station volunteers!  I think next time I will start near the front next time, but who knows, maybe it will help me pace and not fade towards the end! OTherwise, I wouldn’t change much. I really enjoyed the vibe and energy from the volunteers, staff, and riders. I would do Marji again, but would also like to try the Cascades 100 (I used to live out on Mt Hood, Oregon), or Mohican 100. Thanks to Neff Cycle Service (Sponsor and bike shop) and Josh McKinney (friend) for ensuring I have a mountain bike that works well and that I love to ride!”

Women’s open finisher Kim Rudd with masters finisher Diana Munger

Taking the third step on the podium, Kim Heintz from Illinois, finished in 9:17:47. “This year’s Marji 50 was my third time racing it and my first race in exactly two years. The last time I raced was this same race in 2019.I went into this race not knowing what to expect, I was hoping for a top 3 finish. I’ve spent most of this year focused on shorter, harder efforts and also out of practice with racing. The previous two times, I had just come off of racing Leadville, so I had everything dialed.I was assigned bib #666, and normally you’d think you’ve been dealt the worst luck every, but in the Marji, it’s kind of like winning the lottery. That’s their brand – and it definitely got a lot of attention! I was hoping it’d bring some good luck for the day!When we started, we were on a paved path for a couple of miles, and then we took a turn away from Lake Superior and started climbing. It was a long and sometimes steep climb. I saw that I was in second place and worked hard to try to keep 1st in my line of sight.  For most of the first hour or so, I figured I was only about 45 seconds back.  However, I think my lack of practice in racing the last couple of years got the best of me and I think I went out too hard.I didn’t realize it for a couple of hours but then it kind of hit me.I came into Jackson Park the first time, where I had my drop bag, about 6 minutes faster than my best time there. I was still feeling good but about an hour later, I could feel my legs starting to seize up a bit and cramp. My heart rate wouldn’t come down, and that’s when I realized I had gone out too hard. I slowed things down quite a bit for the next hour or two and got a little bit of positive talk from my friend Bryan who was out there with me and tried to get my heart rate under control and to also get my legs to stop seizing up.During this time, several other women had passed me, and I assumed my run for the podium was over. So, I just spent the rest of the race enjoying the super technical trails, fun descents, and insane climbs.

It was an absolutely picture-perfect fall day in the Upper Penninsula, and what a great way to spend it!You’re supposed to pick up hidden tokens along the race course as you go. Usually these are just randomly placed throughout the course. I never saw any this time but just as we did the final climb up, which is always an out and back, I saw the first one.  I kept going up and saw another one and then another.  In total, there were 4 tokens to pick up on this short, steep section.From there, I headed to the finish line, crossing in 9:17. One of the race directors, Todd, came up to me to congratulate me. And I said I’d hoped to have done the 666 number justice by taking a podium spot but I thought I was in 5th or 6th. He said “are you sure about that?” and pulled out his phone to show me I finished 3rd.I was in disbelief and overjoyed! I didn’t know it at the time, but the tokens each had a word on them – and they spelled out “Finish What You Start”.  How fitting for the type of day I had.Marji is such a cool race. Extremely hard and makes you feel all sorts of emotions, but such a satisfying and rewarding experience. Sponsors: PSIMET Racing and Roots Racing”

A couple minutes back, Kim Rudd of Minnesota, took fourth place in 9:21:34. Finished in fifth was, April Beard of Wisconsin, in 9:42:06.

After texting #quitter in 2019, Ella (pictured left), came back more determined than ever and finished the 50 mile course in 23 hours. She is only 13! Photo credit: Ella Clement’s mom.

Men’s Open

Getting his first NUE win of 2021, Anthony Grinnell of Pennsylvania, won with a time of 6:04:30. “I travelled to Michigan’s UP with my teammate Jim Litzinger with one goal in mind- to get Litz another single speed win so he could wrap up the championship.  The race started off at a very reasonable pace on the opening flat 2 to 3 miles.  This was the best possible scenario, allowing Litz to stay on my wheel until we got to the opening climb.  As we started up the first climb, a few overly ambitious riders got aggressive.  I looked down at my Garmin and was pushing over 400 watts as I watched several riders gap Jim and I on the climb.  Two of them blew up before the first climb was even finished, leaving one racer out ahead of us.  Even though we’d never done the Marji race, we heard all the rumors of tough, grindy single track and new better than to overdo it in the early stages of the race.  Single speed or not, Litz is one of the best technical single track riders I know.  All I had to do is pull him through the early flat gravel and paved sections and then follow his wheel as he lit up the single track.  We caught a glimpse of the leader just prior to the second stop at Jackson Park about 40 miles in and I could tell he was hurting.  With 20 miles of mostly super fun, grinder, old school single track left, Jim and I felt right at home and knew we had two wins in the bag, barring any flats or mechanicals.  We ended up pulling a 40 minute gap for Jim to seal up the Single Speed Marathon Championship and for me to take the Men’s Open win.  I’ve done a lot of NUE races, but this is one of my favorites now.  What an awesome event with an excellent course and an unbelievable crew who organizes it all.  If you haven’t done this race, you need to.  Huge thanks to Pirelli tires for taking a massive beating and not even thinking about flatting.  As always, Flow Formulas kept my energy up and legs feeling strong throughout the race.  I’d also like to thank Shorkey Auto Group, Pro Bike & Run, KOO Eyewear, KASK helmets, Extreme Nano Chain Lube, Starlight Apparel, Industry Nine, Wolf Tooth Components, ESI Grips, and Horizon Orthopedics.”

Forty-five minutes back, John Burmeister of Michigan, took second in 6:45:05. “The morning of the race was no different than many other races I have participated in.  I was anxious to start and the nerves were firing.  Being my first Marji event there were a few unknowns that helped fuel the anxiety.  I had heard many stories from previous racers about how grueling the course can be.  Especially near the end..  I had put in a fair amount of training this summer, had a handful of successful races this season, and did some pre-rides of the 2019 course.  I was feeling hopeful to be in the mix for a podium position. With so many names unknown to me I wasn’t sure who the competition would be.  My plan for the start of the race was to go out with a moderately hard effort to see who would give chase.  At the gun we rolled out fairly quick but the pace quickly slowed with no attacks being made for the lead position.  My next plan was to put in a good effort on the first real climb.  We hit the Mt. Marquette road climb and the group quickly broke up. I made it up and over solo and continued on to the first “checkpoint”, Jackson Mine park, with a 5+ minute lead on the 2nd and 3rd position riders. My pace felt good and I felt like I was going to be able to maintain it going forward.Having ridden most of the course I knew things would slow a bit once we got on the RAMBA trails.  With my lead I figured I would save some energy on the climbs and make up time on the descents.  Slowly but surely, I started to get the sense that a rider may being closing in on me.  On occasion I could hear what I thought was another rider somewhere in the woods.  Sure enough the 2nd and 3rd place riders caught up to me just before our return to Jackson Park.  We all stopped for feeds and I was first to leave the park heading for the finish. The other 2 racers caught up to me fairly quickly.  Seeing how well they were still moving along I told them they were looking good and let them by without any hesitation.  At about mile 52 I was starting to feel some real fatigue.  I decided I was going to ride the rest of the race for 3rd and I was OK with that. Things started to get dicey shortly after.. My legs were feeling fine but the rest of my body and mind were suffering.  For the remainder of the race there was a lot of walking on stuff I would normally ride.  (There really is “no free trail” out there. Even the descents make you work!)  At this point I was having lots of self-thought and contemplation about the choices I had made.  The typical thoughts and conversations one has with themselves when they’re deep into a grueling event! I just kept telling myself to “keep moving forward”, and that is what I did.At the end of the race, I finished in 3rd place but ultimately was more pleased with just finishing the event.  It was more than just a race but also a challenge of overcoming physical and mental limits .  There are always things we could have done differently when thinking back on our choices but at the end of the day I can say the outcome would have been the same.  The 1st and 2nd place finishers absolutely crushed it!  Hats off to the 2 of them for an exceptional race and kudos to everyone else who completed the race and to those who simply attempted it.  Easily one of the hardest events I have ever participated in.Thank you to all of the event coordinators, “trail angels”, and my support crew.”

John Burmeister. Photo credit: Rob Meendering

Taking third was, Rick Hatfield of Michigan, with a time of 6:50:59. “I had been looking forward to Marji all year. My wife and I traveled “up-north” several times from the Ann Arbor, MI area to pre-ride some of the course. She had raced Marji in 2019 so I had an idea what to expect. My J-Tree Teammates and I rode the few miles to the starting line from the place we had been staying at in town. The weather was perfect, low/mid 50’s and bright sunshine. At the start its always the same thing, everyone looking around squaring up their competition while trying to look calm while the race jitters set in. I do a final check of my bike feeling pretty confident that Wheels in Motion bike shop had my set up correct on my Trek Top Fuel right. The race starts and it’s a pretty chill start. I stay with the top 5 leaders on the road when we hit the first big climb, Marquette Mountain. The lead rider decides to put in a big effort, the rest of us look at each other decide not to chase. I crest the mountain and enter the trail in 4th place. I am caught by the 5th place rider and we work together pacing to Jackson Park for the first aid station. My wife was my pit crew for the day and had me in and out of aid station faster than a Nascar pit stop. I dropped off my 2 bottles of infinit and grabbed camel bak pre-filled with infinit which worked well. From there is was back and fourth working with the 5th place rider. We eventually caught the third place rider, but I got separated when I second guessed a turn onto a road. At about 45 miles in we hit Jackson Park for the final leg. The 5th place rider and I leave the aid station and begin working together again. With about 10 miles to go the 5th place rider begins to have stomach and cramping issues. He pulls to the side of the trail and lets me lead. At this point I see him start to fall back a little, so I decide to burn one of my last matches and push hard to gap him. The trail is not forgiving whatsoever, you are hit with hill after hill. You think, alright this is the last climb and you are hit with another. With 5 miles to go am I am getting really worried I hadn’t seen any tokens. I pass a few of the 100 mile runners and ask if they had seen any and said no. With about a ½ mile to go the final climb has all the tokens with about 50 yards apart. At the last token is mannequin of Todd holding the last token with his middle finger out – I laughed and rode into the finish. I loved this race! I thought for sure I would get lost with all the twisty turns and on-off-on again trails but it was pretty well marked. The chunky, rooty hilly terrain is not like any other NUE race I have done in the past and Marquette is such a great town to hang out afterwards.”

Taking fourth place was, Paul Fox from Michigan, with a time of 7:02:19. About ten minutes back was, Jason Kloptowsky of Illinois, with a time of 7:12:04.

Singlespeed- Litzinger with the WIN

Placing second overall and taking the singlespeed win by over two hours, James Litzinger of Pennsylvania finished in 6:04:31. ” My first time to the UP did not disappoint.  I really wasn’t sure what to think about the Marji Gesick after reading race reports, watching race video, course reviews, and talking to the few who have earned the coveted buckle.  My gathering was that it was a load of single track that will slow down your average speed and wind you through the punchy climbs of the forest.  I have enjoyed this type of race in the past so I was all set to go.  It started at the Marina in Marquette, at a casual pace, before climbing up a freshly graded climb at 10-12% grade for about 7 minutes.  This is when the race started and there was a flyer of the front, my teammate and friend Anthony Grinnell said he is either a rocket or he will fade back to us.  Anthony and I decided to make it a day by using each other to pace ourselves.  Anthony pulled and worked on the flats and double track then I would jump in the front navigating the fun single track.  These races are so fun but they are even better when you get to have your friend there with you to push you!  Our race was uneventful until I spotted the leader at the top of one of the punchy climbs.  From there Anthony and I reeled him in around mile 38 or so.  From there we kept our pace, while enjoying the trails, which lead us to the finish just over the 6 hour mark.  It was a blast to  The Specialized Epic was the perfect race bike that Pro Bike+Run keeps in tip, top shape for the grueling demands this race has.  Flow formula in the bottles was once again top notch considering fueling was difficult to come by with the rough trails.  Thanks to Jim Shorkey Auto Group and Dr. Bryan Hooks for their support of the Syndicate to make these trips possible.”

Litzinger takes the singlespeed 50 mile win.

Coming all the way from Utah, Benjamin Modic, takes second place in 8:35:28. “After moving from Grand Rapids and living in Salt Lake City for the past 6 years, I had an itch that only the Marji Gesick could scratch. My journey back to Michigan reconnected to me with old friends, introduced me to new ones, and allowed me to ride the trails where my passion for cycling began 12 years ago. This was my first time ever doing a race on a singlespeed, so I felt like to 50-mile race would be enough of a lesson for me. For gearing advise, I turned to community pages, discussing it with previous finishers. There is no perfect gear on a singlespeed so you can’t overthink it. I went with 30×20. I knew the start of the race and paths in between Marquette and Negaunee would be a high cadence punishment, but it made more sense once I got to the good stuff. I felt strong up until the last 10 miles of the race. Shortly after the suicide hill ski jumps, I found myself walking more and more. The last few miles gave me inspiration and overwhelming joy hit me at the finish line. I love this sport. Thanks to all my friends and my family for making this trip so memorable, especially my dad (pictured below) for helping crew for this race and all the previous races while I lived in Michigan. I will be back at some point to try the 100-miler… and I’ll be bringing the singlespeed!”

Ben Modic taking second place.

Taking the last podium spot, Dan Packer of Michigan, finished in 9:47:56. “I was surprised to come in 3rd out of the single speeders.  I rode with my City Bike Shop brother who unfortunately had to text #quitter a few years ago, so the goal was that we get him to the finish.  It was such an awesome day, we were both thrilled to just keep crankin.  I rolled a 30:20 gearing on my mulletted, slacked-out RSD Middlechild.  It was perfect for a long, slow day of spinning pedals through the endless steep, rocky, rooty, ribbons of singletrack.  I can’t thank/blame Todd and Danny enough for the effort they put into these events. Kept the rubber side down (for the most part)!”

Fourth place went to, Samuel Haglund of Michigan, crossing the line in 10:05:51. About an hour back, Cory Christener of Michigan, finished in 11:06:41.

Women’s Masters

First place in the women’s masters category went to, Martha Flynn of Minnesota, with a finish time of 10:09:36.

Taking the second podium spot was, Diana Munger of Minnesota, crossing the finish line in 12:51:30. “High time for some seriously #unfinished business in the Munger household. But first- let’s backtrack – to almost 5 years ago. Our intrepid gang of friends with a peculiar taste for masochistic epic adventures convinced us to sign up for a crazy new race in da UP. Completely self supported, hills upon more hills, upon more more hills, ridiculously hard old school singletrack – what the hell were we thinking? Blame Danny. Blame Todd. What does that even mean?! Well, we trained hard together and were ready to conquer. But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men. My husband, John, suffered a horrible crash with less than a month to go. So we forged on without him. Marji 2017 was a brutal year. Heat, humidity, and endless climbs, mosquitoes and flies. That is, racers dropping like flies left and right. Incredibly, my friends and I all managed to finish. Such relief and happiness to be done but mixed with a twinge of sadness that John couldn’t be there with us to share. Next time, we all wanted him along for the ride. Flash forward four years to the present. John’s injury was slow to heal and his mountain bike mojo took even longer to return. Pandemic and just life in general also slowed our return.Same gang -ready to try it all once more. Miraculously, we were able to snag coveted race entries- ‘cause now, of course, it seems like everyone who’s anybody wants to do Marji. But even after all this finagling, my beloved spouse waffled endlessly and and dragged his feet about biking.Race time drew near. Emails were flying in.  ‘Are you in or out?’ was the question from the race director.I posed this query over and over again to my husband.
‘Maybe’ was the reply. The date to transfer to the shorter race came and went. Wifely nagging was of no avail, yet a single word from a buddy sealed the deal- just two weeks before the race. Too late for Marji camps at this point. With just 14 days to go, a high intensity training plan was instituted. Not easy to accomplish in the flatlands of Minneapolis, but somehow he managed.Race morning dawned spectacularly. Not sure why, but I actually thought it would be easier this time round- maybe because it was about 35 degrees cooler. Sheer hubris. It was much worse, of course – way more gnarly singletrack, sheer drops, hills (mountains?) that never ended. So many more rocks and roots than I remembered- where had they all come from? Lots more runners and bikers. Spectacular views and fall colors popping helped to ease the pain a bit. Not to mention a course that was so well marked, I actually started wondering why I had spent so many hours trying to load the gpx file on to my Wahoo. And at the heart of it all-  still the same race. The same camaraderie and good will out on the trails. Every racer was super friendly- all working towards the same goal- to finish. Every volunteer I talked to had a Marji story they were eager to share. Was I actually hallucinating when I glimpsed the Marji mannequin giving me the finger on the very last climb? How very apropos. The last 5 miles seemed truly endless and somewhat terrifying as night fell. Not quite believing I was finally at the finish with my friends cheering me on. And not long afterwards, my husband also triumphantly crossing the line. How could he possibly ride 100 plus to my 60 plus miles and finish so embarrassing and so damn close to me?! But never mind, we were finally able to experience the legend that is Marji, together (well, sort of, anyway).The very nice race official lady who asked for this report told me to be sure to include my sponsors. Sorry to report that no one wants to sponsor me.  But I do happen to have oodles of amazingly supportive friends and family who nicely look the other way and sweetly pretend that I’m not just a little bit unhinged when I tell them that I worked so dang hard for just four wooden tokens. Blame Danny. Blame Todd. Thank Danny. Thank Todd, and thank all those awesome volunteers and the incredible community who make this ridiculous and over the top race possible.And by the way, both my husband and I had a marvelous time. As I knew he would.Marji Gesick 2021- check.Mission accomplished.”

Diana Munger all smiles at the finish line.

Rounding out the podium and taking third was, Dawn Steinmann of Wisconsin in 14:11:51.

Men’s Masters

50 Mile masters podium: 1st Jeff Adamcik, 2nd Todd Mcfadden, 3rd Dave Jolin. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Taking the win in the masters division was, Jeff Adamcik of Michigan with a finish time of 7:49:06. “It was nice to finally come into a race this year where I felt my left knee was up to the task. I rode most of the race with Dorel Stoia, who at the time was the current points leader. We were tracking with each other until we got to the aid station.  He was always faster than me at the aid station and both times I had some work to do to catch up.  On the last leg of the race I was starting to feel it, only to come out to a small lake where “ Danny “ and his crew were enjoying themselves. One of them asked “why are you smiling?”   I asked “could you share some of your pop?”  The response was that they had diet and by my reaction they knew I wasn’t excited about that. I needed some sugar.  Shortly after I heard, “what about a beer”.  Heck ya!  I felt I was back in my college days slamming down a BlackRocks Pilsner.  Next up, was the Suicide Hill climb.  Definitely energize by the beer … I caught sight of Dorel.  However, he stayed ahead of me and I was losing sight of him in the last few miles.  I came to the finish, thinking I was #2, but to my surprise I was declared the winner.  Dorel missed the last hill climb, thus, the tokens.  Thanks to Kevin Geminder at Bicycle HQ for getting my bike ready and the transfer registration!  Also thanks to Mike and Angi Golisek for housing me for the weekend and cheering me on throughout the race.”

Finishing seven minutes back, Todd Mcfadden took second place in 7:56:07. Taking third was, Dave Jolin of Ohio crossing the line in 7:57:43.

Dave Jolin from Ohio takes 3rd in 50 mile masters. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Fourth place was, Roger Lundsten of Wisconsin, in 8:15:45 and fifth went to James Kauth of Minnesota, with a finish time of 8:32:47.

For full results CLICK HERE

Pictures from the race can be found here: Rob Meendering and Ryan Stephens

Mark your calendars. Registration for the 2022 Marji Gesick is October 15th.

NUE- Marji Gesick 100 Mile

NUE Series 2021-Marji Gesick 100 mile

September 18, 2021

Written by: @Jentoops

The Marji Gesick is a point-to-point endurance race located on the upper peninsula of Michigan. It starts in Marquette and ends in downtown Ishpeming. The one-hundred mile and fifty mile mountain bike races are part of the National Ultra Endurance Series. There is also a one-hundred mile run, fifty mile run and one-hundred mile duathlon option. It’s quickly gaining popularity as one of the toughest endurance races in the United States and sells out in less than twenty four hours. This GPS required race is self supported, and racers are required to collect tokens at random checkpoints along the course.

Racers navigating the Top of the World. Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

The course was designed by Danny Hill and made to push riders to their absolute limits. The one-hundred milers having around twelve-thousand vertical feet of climbing, and the fifty milers around seven-thousand.  In both courses, racers have to navigate through sand, roots, rocks, off camber climbs, drops, jump lines and technical descents, all while saving enough energy to get through the grueling last fifteen miles.

Celebrating at the finish line. Photo credit: Rob Meendering

Racers in the one-hundred mile course finishing under twelve hours for mountain biking, under twenty-eight hours for runners and under twenty-two hours for duathlon, will earn the coveted belt buckle handmade by blacksmith Gordon Gearhart.

Women’s Open- Toops secures NUE overall win

Former NUE Marathon series winner, Jen Toops from Ohio, took the win in 12:58:22. With this win she secures the overall female Epic NUE title. ” I have a love/hate relationship with this race. How can a race so fun, hurt so bad? After completing the 50 mile Marji twice I decided it was time to conquer the 100. Although it would be awesome to get the buckle, I had one goal. To finish the race. As long as I finished I’d lock up the NUE epic overall win for the season. The start of the race was very busy and reminded me of the La Ruta de los conquistadors. Instead of a helicopter roll out we had an electric guitar national anthem, beautiful paint horse, lemans start and fire works. Just before the start, I got to meet fellow Pivot Cycles rider, Kaityln Boyle, who came all the way from ID for a chance at the buckle. After the lemans start I had no idea what place I was going into the woods. Did it matter? No. A very long day awaited. Even though I had my GPS, I still managed to blow by turns, start up the wrong trails and got turned around a lot at the beginning. Once we were on the single track I was having so much fun and was finding my rhythm. This is the part I love about Marji!

Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Just before the Jackson Park I caught up with Kaityln Boyle. We rode most of the sandy snowmobile trails and bike path together chatting it up! A welcomed mental break. The first loop out of the park I felt amazing and really was having fun on the tech singletrack. This loop went on forever! I was so focused on riding I didn’t eat enough on this loop. That was my downfall of the race and paid for it on the way to the finish. I stopped back at the park to get a back up charger and lights. This is when I saw Kaityln Boyle had DNF due to pain from a pre-ride crash. Kaityln and my support Heidi encouraged me I still might be a buckle contender. I had 15 miles to do a little over 2 hours. Feeling confident I continued to push the pace. After about an hour of riding I did the math in my head and realized a buckle was not in the cards today. My riding started to get sloppy, the fatigue had set in and I was in survival mode. I forgot how hard the last sections of trail were with non-stop punchy climbs, hike-a-bikes and just shenanigans. The last 30 minutes were torture, I wanted to lay down on the side of the trail. I wanted real food. I turned my lights on and navigated those roots and rocks walking what I normally could ride during the daylight. Jasper knob was such a rewarding sight to see on the GPS. The last hike a bike! I walked to the top collected my tokens and gave fake Todd a high five and headed in to the finish. My whole body hurt like it never has with any other race. I laid in the van post race for a couple hours before I could even function. Marji is by far the hardest hundred I have ever completed. I love it but hate it. I’m proud of my effort and learned a lot. Will I be back? You bet and next year I will have a different goal in mind! Calling all Ladies….lets go get this BUCKLE. Thank you Danny and Todd for an amazing event as always! Bike: Pivot Mach 4SL size XS. Sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Ergon, Fox, Lazer, Honeystinger, Carborocket, SCC, Stans, Maxxis.” Special thanks to Heidi for the race support!

“That was hard.” Video by: Ryan Odell

Nicky Ruszkowski of New York, took second place with a time of 16:27:54. “Marji Gesick 2021 was my second attempt at this race. In 2019 I dropped out at around mile 85 and so I certainly came at this with unfinished business. I love riding the more technical trails and Marji certainly has plenty of those. The gnarly, rocky descents in this race play to my strengths and are so much fun to ride. I think the cooler temperatures on race day were actually a little deceiving and I don’t think I was alone in underestimating the amount of fluids needed to stay hydrated. Overall this is a phenomenal race and I was delighted to come in second behind Jen.”

About fourteen minutes back from second place, Jessica Nankman of Pennsylvania, finished third with a time of 16:42:44. “For years I have heard about this race with upwards to 70% non-finisher race called Marji Gesick and decided it was time to see what it is all about. I typically race ultra endurance events, 24 hour mountain bike races, thus was looking forward to another way to test my physical and mental fortitude. With my long-distance background I was confident in my ability to cover the miles and being that I live in Eastern Pennsylvania I felt strong about my technical skills, the thing I was most concerned about was the logistics of the race.  I was concerned about the self-supported aspect, it took extensive planning and contemplating on my part about how to carry the hydration, nutrition, and gear needed. Rumors about “trail angels”, volunteers who set-up aid stations along the course, were true and they helped immensely with rider needs .  Another part of the race that takes pre-planning is the point to point factor. Just being my husband (who was also racing) and myself making the trip to Marji, we had no outside help. We opted to stay in the campground located at race start, which made for a very relaxed pre-race morning but we wondered how to get back afterwards.  A friendly volunteer drove us from the finish back to our campsite post-finish.As for the course it’s self…it was a challenging and tough 105 miles.  There were many miles of smiles; fun single track, rewarding rock gardens, flowing berms, and air-time inducing jump lines. But there were even more miles of tough trail that caused much suffering.  Near vertical ups and downs, soul-sucking sand, and sketchy washouts induced a fair amount of walking.  To add to the physical and mental challenge many of the last few miles were ridden in the dark.  Thank goodness for the great cheering and support of the spectators and volunteers along with many friendly fellow racers that kept me going strong.I have never experienced a race like this. Marji Gesick truly is as advertised, it one tough event not to be taken lightly. But the achievement of reaching the finish line, and being on the podium, is an accomplishment that will never be forgotten.Sponsors to please be included in the review: Liv Cycling USA Ambassador, Lupine Lights, Saucon Valley Bikes.”

Nankman pre-riding part of the Marji Gesick course

Taking fourth place was Jenny Acker from Michigan with a time of 17:48:38. Finishing fifth was Christina Peek from Michigan crossing the line in 20:51:19.

Men’s Open Acker takes back-to-back Marji wins

Men’s open podium: 1st Matt Acker, 2nd Kurt Refsnider, 3rd Chad Cannon. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

The 2019 Marji Gesick winner, Matt Acker of Michigan, gets back-to-back Marji wins with a time of 10:36:55.

Just four minutes back, ultra endurance racer, Kurt Refsnider of Arizona, finished second in 10:41:38 “I made the decision to fly up from Arizona for the race just a few days before the race, so eveIrything was a very last-minute affair for me. But I had heard story after story about how technically challenging the Marji is, and that’s hands-down my favorite kind of riding. And I’m so glad I made the trip – it’s been a while since I’ve ridden a race course that was as difficult and fun as the Marji Gesick 100! I had the pleasure of riding with local legend Matt Acker for most of the race, and following his wheel for so many miles sure helped me ride efficiently (especially as I tried to keep him in sight on the longer descents). 100 milers are a bit on the short end of the races I typically do, and my legs started to fade in the final miles after trying to ride fast for 10,000+ feet of punchy climbing. Matt gradually disappeared ahead of me, and I just tried to hold it together after mile 90.I also am especially impressed by how the race organizers have created an incredibly demanding event in which riders openly embrace (and come for) that challenge. Most races with a course of this style would have relatively small fields, but the organizers have created a welcoming and empowering atmosphere around the race that’s truly one-of-a-kind.”

Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Taking third place, Chad Cannon of Wisconsin, finished in 11:34:32. Ryan Goemans of Wisconsin finished fourth in 11:39:28 and Ben Senkerik of Wisconsin took fifth place with a time of 11:43:37.

SinglespeedHolle takes overall NUE SS win

Singlespeed podium- 1st Justin Holle, 2nd Anthony Toops, 3rd Eli Orth. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Justin Holle of Colorado wins the singlespeed division and takes 4th overall with at time of 11:39:15. With this win he has secured the overall Epic NUE singlespeed title and went undefeated this year. “Bike: 34×19 gearing on Norco Revolver HT. The overwhelming sentiment leading into Marji seemed the same from every source, ‘good luck’.  Having never quit a race I didn’t understand the high DNF rate or the fear expressed by such sources. And then…after missing my 4th turn only to see the arrow placement AFTER the turn did I realize these racers quit because, damn, that course just presses your buttons! I jumped out early with fellow Singlespeeders Mark Kransz and Scott Quiring, jockeying 1st to 3rd. Just as I passed the hilltop bagpiper I put in a gap and thought I’d race off the front. No sooner did I see myself careening over the handlebars into a pile of rocks, giving up my position. Through mile 39 we danced positions and at that Aid Station I made haste and passed through without support. Alone until mile 65 Aid at Jackson Park I learned this “race” was more an “adventure”. Staying on course demanded full awareness so race efforts sat second wheel.On the loop from Jackson Park that Singlespeed Monster: Anthony Toops closed in behind me. I guess this IS a race! More friend than foe, we chatted and grunted through the loop keeping tabs on our pace for that coveted sub-12 buckle. Back through the Jackson Park aid we knew we had enough time to finish under 12 barring any issues. We hung together, alternating position, riding, and power hiking the steeps. Near mile 94 I slowly pulled away and looking back didn’t see Toops in sight. The course became more intuitive, sign reading less challenging, and I stayed committed to ignoring my computer data. I relied on looking up to the sun to gauge my sub-7:30PM finish. With 50-milers becoming more frequent on trail I could tell we were close. Feeling confident I looked back and saw Toops! What?!?! He closed in on me AGAIN. Providing that final fire I needed! I drove my pedals, attacked the steep hill holding the precious tokens, and headed back down with enough of a gap. Passing Toops I hollered to my friend and turned onto tarmac to punch it home. I passed a final geared racer and came across the line in 4th overall position with the SS win. Marji is the hardest 100-mile MTB race course I’ve ever done. It attacks you mentally, physically, and, when you blow a turn, emotionally. Fortunately I had a good day and I attribute that to accepting MG as an adventure first, race second. Oh, and the guys making grilled cheese at mile 58, thank you sirs. Thanks to my support: Base Canp Cyclery, Norco, Shimano, Crankbrothers, ESI, and Carbo Rocket.”

Anthony Toops and Justin Holle celebrating at the finish line. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Just a couple minutes back on Holle, Anthony Toops from Ohio, took second place in singlespeed and sixth overall, finishing in 11:41:13. “Marji Gesick is always the biggest test of the year.  This year, my goal was to go sub 12hr and get the coveted buckle on a single speed.  I was able to get a buckle on gears in 2018 but it was a true test for me at the time… so doing it on a single speed had me wondering if it would even happen.  The race started with the traditional 1/2 mile run and from the beginning I was on my own pace.  My goal was the buckle and if this turned into a “race” then so be it.  I could see a few ss racers up ahead but I stuck to my plan and didn’t chase.  I was in a good group with my teammate Jeff Rupnow, who has tons of experience at this race, and I knew he could carry me to a buckle… if I could hang!  At mile 13.5 the group was flying and unfortunately missed the left turn back to Forestville.  We were heading back up to the Top of the World!  Eventually we noticed the mistake but it cost us roughly 12min, which isn’t something you can easily claw back at this race.  This caused some high anxiety until I could get my time splits back on track. Going into Jackson Park I was still up 20min on my previous sub 12 race!  Now the stress was off some but I knew the two loops out of Jackson Park are no joke. This is where the race really starts.   At this point I’m still sticking to my plan and haven’t seen another ss’r in a while.  About 15min later I caught up with Justin Holle and we rode together pretty much the rest of the race, pushing each other to make sure that buckle was ours!  Half way into loop 2 out of Jackson, Justin started to get a gap on me.  I made a mistake with my nutrition on the first loop and ran out of calories and water for almost an hour (rookie!) so I started to fade.  I made sure to get some calories in and started to feel normal again with about 7mi to go.  I would guess Justin was only a couple minutes ahead but I was solely focused on that buckle!  The last 15mi of this race is the true test and every second counts.  It’s a weird experience because this is a race where you are in a battle with the trail and yourself; racing someone else is a bonus.  No matter how well you’re doing, you’re always wondering if you’ll make it.I put my head down and went as hard as I could for that last hour or so. I WASN’T coming up short!  When I could see the last climb to Jasper Knob on my screen, I knew I had it.  BUT where the heck were all the tokens!  Of course they were on the way up to Jasper Knob (blame Todd & Danny) so everyone had that stress all day.  In the end, I finished 2nd by just a couple minutes and the buckle was mine!Marji is one of those races where you always say you don’t need to do it again… but you always want to.  Now that I have a geared and ss buckle, next year will be a new challenge!  Thanks again to my wife Jen for her motivation, my team Evolution Training Cycles/Paradise Garage Racing, and especially Heidi for all her help!  See you in 2022?! Bike Setup:Frame – Pivot LES size large. Fork – Fox Step Cast 32 100mmGearing – oval 32x19Tires – Continental cross king protection 2.3 front and rear.”

Finishing in third place, Eli Orth of Ohio, crossing the line in 12:20:44. “Marji was my fourth NUE epic distance SS race. Going into the race my main goal was to have a clean race and finish with a decent overall time. I ended up finishing 3rd.The race started great getting into one of the lead groups. It took a little hit though when our group made a wrong turn at mile 15. We were repeating a section we had went through around mile 5. Luckily Jeff Rupnow and Anthony Toops realized it once we had climbed all way to Forestville Rd. We turned back and by the time we were back on track we had lost about 14 minutes… and we were battling through other riders that we were previously well in front of. Surprisingly time was made up and by the time hit Jackson Park I was still on track to get under 12 hours. On the first loop through Jackson I was still on pace. On the last trails through the last 15ish miles I was pushing the pace and had a small crash that set me back just a little and seemed to slow my momentum a little. I made it to the finish only to realize I dropped an orange token on my way in. Soooo I had to go back and get the orange token. My finish time was 12hrs 3 min 57 sec. A little frustrated getting so close to the under 12 but falling little short. Overall happy with the race though and finishing Marji without mechanical and any physical issues is always a win. Thank to my sponsors Dean Titanium Bikes, CarboRocket, Kenda, AbsoluteBLACK, ESI Grips.Also thankful for all my family that supported me to do this race from my wife staying and watching the kids to my step-dad that ran support for me!My gearing for the race was 34×20. This was my last NUE points race for the season. My next planned race is the Cruce Del Istmo in Panama to represent the NUE.”

Eli Orth ready for the Lemans run. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Fourth went to, Nathan Lillie of WI, in 12:45:47. Brent Pontius of MI, took fifth place in 13:37:48.

Women’s Singlespeed-First woman to complete Marji on a Singlespeed

Kristen Wade of Illinois is the first woman to complete Marji on a singlespeed. She finished in 23 hours. ” I hardly feel like I should be writing a race report considering the top female racer crossed the finish line nearly 11 hours before me but this was no ordinary race and I was in no ordinary category. The 2021 NUE Marji Gesick was my first Marji and I competed on a single speed. I was the sole female in the single speed category and much to my surprise I was the first female to ever FINISH the Marji with one gear. I rode a titanium VooDoo Dambala 29er with a 30:22 gearing and my nutrition consisted of a lot of Snicker bars, PayDays, grilled cheese and beef sticks. The Marji Gesick is more than a Hard Day, for some, it is a hard night too. I have no sponsors to thank because I am not a sponsored athlete. However, I would like to thank my husband, Al, for his continued support riding with me and encouraging me when I struggled. Next year I would like to return to race another Marji, with one gear, but faster.”

Kristen Wade is the first women to complete Marji on a single speed!

Schultz of Ohio takes the Masters win

Taking the Masters win, Brad Scholtz of Ohio, finished in 14:24:12. ” Having participated in other 906 events I knew it would be special and epic!   I had not raced Marji before, but I knew lots who had attempted, and a few who had completed the race-  and they made it REALLY clear that this would be the hardest thing you’ve ever done!  “Words can’t do it justice”! I started the race with two of my RBikes teammates as we knew that we should match up fairly well and to have some company at least for a while.   Not having any idea what I was in for, I would have been more conservative at the beginning, but my teammates were pushing a pretty spicy pace- I hung on and tried to settle in and stay on top of nutrition/hydration.  What a challenge it is pay attention to navigation, hydration, nutrition, physical effort and tackle the technical sections was crazy fun and challenging!   When I reached the bag drop(mi 65ish) I was feeling pretty good, but I also had a decent idea that the last 40 mi were the hardest!  And needless to say I was not disappointed!    The scenic views, stupid hard climbs and technical descents were my favorite- make no mistake, the constant punchy climbs really accumulate to break you down.   My secret is really to just “stay present” and enjoy/tackle the section that you’re currently doing.  Don’t even think about what’s yet to come.   The second most critical thing for me is to stay in a “positive“ place- giving and receiving positive energy from/to the other riders.   Positive engagement with everyone I can in contact with.  Thank you to my teammates(RBikes) for the pacing and to the amazing volunteers all over the course!!That was amazing!  I’m proud of my effort, but now I’m completely hooked, and already thinking about next year and how I can go faster!  I Was extremely pleased to take 1st place in the Men’s Master division.”

About fifteen minutes back, John Munger from MN, takes second place in 14:38:20. Vin Dog Mack of MI, takes third place with a time of 15:10:11. Fourth goes to, Scott Cole of WI, in 15:45:44 and fifth place to, Derrick Seys of IL, crossing the line in 16:21:30.

John Munger and Piotr Bednarski on their way to Marji

For full results CLICK HERE

Pictures from the race can be found here: Rob Meendering and Ryan Stephens

Mark your calendars. Registration for the 2022 Marji Gesick is October 15th.