The US MTB Marathon Nationals race will take place in Bend, OR in less than 2 days. If you have not yet seen who has registered for his event, you need to take a look. This is merely going to be one of the toughest USA events this season on the mountain bike calendar. Not only are the fastest US XC racers on hand, but some of the fastest ultra-endurance racers as well. This will be a true test of who is faster. Does the XC rider win or does the endurance rider? Only time will tell, and if last year's performance is any indication, the XC rider has the edge (Adam Craig and Carl Decker were 1-2 at last years' race). Here is the list of registered riders, it's a who's who of mountain biking. The only 2 riders I don't see on the list that could make it even more impressive is Olymipian Sam Schultz, and Cannondale's Jeremiah Bishop.
start of last years race
The course for this years' National event will be much more challenging than last year. In the previous version, there were many miles of pavement and fireroad. This year, however, the course is 90% singletrack. Most of the trails will occur near the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort at elevations of around 5800-6900ft. Read the USA Cycling Report here.
My goal for this event is to finish in the Top 15 and a finishing time of around 3 hours 45 minutes. The beginning of the course is going to be extremely dusty and very loose, so getting a good start is going to be somewhat critical. The first 5-6 miles will be on fireroad/doubletrack, so there will be time to jocky for position, but once in the singletrack it will be difficult to pas as the trails are pretty narrow. The course will also also include the popular Flagline Trail; which I've been told has not been used in a race except one other time back in the 80's. The trail is only open for a few months (beginning August 15th) to protect elk calving grounds. The trail is some of the best singletrack in Oregon, and should give out-of-state racers a taste of Central Oregon's best. It's quite remote with views of Mt. Bachelor, and it's the half way point on the course, so it will certainly be the most fun part of the race.
The final 10 miles of the race will once again include Funner and Tiddlywinks Trails. These trails can be very demanding on the body, so after roughly 45 miles of racing it should be interesting how things play out at that time. For some it will be a matter of survival, and for others it will determine the win or finishing 2nd.
Stay tuned for race reports and photos.