Pacing long mtb races

I just completed my first 100 mi mtb race (with 12 k ft climbing) in just over 9 hrs with an IF of .7. I finished feeling strong (thanks TR!), but now I’m critically reviewing my performance and I’m wondering if I paced too conservatively. I’d like to hear what more experienced racers are seeing/targeting for similar efforts when they completely empty the tank.

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Alison Tetrick (The Queen of Kanza) talked about this in our interview with her at Sea Otter! You can check it out here:


What the hell man!? That sounds TERRIBLE :wink:

It’s amazing the different types of punishment that appeal to different people. This sound positively atrocious to me – but congrats on a helluva ride :metal:

I think if you survived, you paced it correctly…

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Next step. MTB marathon stage racing. :thinking:

Congrats on the finish!

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Must have been Cohutta. Great ride!!!

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Yes, you paced too conservatively unless you were just hoping to finish or this was a “C” race and you purposely held back. At the end of a MTB 100 you should be smashed and just holding on in a dark place in your mind for the last 10 miles or so. Quite possibly even wondering why you ever signed up for this event and MTB is stupid! If you felt “strong” than you had plenty more.

It’s tough to pace a MTB 100 and you certainly don’t want to start too strong and burn matches as you’ll pay for that effort later on. It’s a bit of learning, but negatively splitting the 100 mile is better than fading into nothing because you had hero strength early on.

Begin the race and set what you believe is a good sustainable effort for 9+ hours (or when you expect to finish). Burn no matches and temper the enthusiasm. At mile 50 you should still feel strong and in a good mental place. Do an evaluation here and decide slight pace up/down. As you approach mile 75 or so this is when you should take another and honest self evaluation. If you hit the lap button every 25 miles (or 10 miles possibly) you’ll be able to look at your data and determine if your pace is consistent. A power meter would be helpful as well but RPE will also do. Yes MTB has many variables, but do your best to interpret the data, elevation gained and what’s remaining.

At 75 miles you’ll know if that pace is sustainable, you need to back down or pick up the pace a bit. No matter what you chose, it should start to feel like it will never end around 85-90 miles. This is the point where you dig deep, fight the demons and use your best self talk. If you’re not reaching this suffer point than pick up the pace! Hell, it’s almost over! Lastly, if you’ve done pace increases at 50, 75 and 90 miles, but still feel strong at mile 95, then empty the tank! You’re more of a stud than you thought you were and you’ll pace the next MTB 100 better.


Awesome advice, thank you.

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