Please help choose my training plan - Marji Gesik MTB Race Goal

Need help choosing my training path with the Marji Gesik MTB race in September of 2020 as my goal.
Marji Gesik has been described as the hardest single day race in America. For the 100+ mile race top racers can take around 12 hours to finish. This is a lofty goal for myself and expecting it to take around 24 hours to complete. Hopefully the picture of the elevation works.

This will be my second year of taking cycling seriously. Only have about 30 hours of MTB experience but have been working on my skills throughout the winter and have completed Crank the Shield race (220km) in 19 hours over 3 days. Mental game is strong.
Currently just started Sweet Spot Base II Low Volume but want some advice for the build and specialty phases. Race has lots of punchy climbs with approximately 12,000ft of total climbing.
FTP is currently 225 at 180lbs. Expect to be 165-170lbs on race day.
I’m only looking to complete the race in under 25 hours, not buckle.
Thanks in advance.

Have you had a look at what the new workout builder suggests?

I will preface this by saying I have not done the race. I have many friends that have. Endurance, endurance, endurance. Strength, strength, strength. This next sentence is not a joke. Spend a considerable amount of time walking, carrying your bike up hills.

You have a ton of time before the event so just concentrate on building as big of a base as you can. When you get to Build go with Sustained.

My wife trained for it last year at about 10-12 hours/week on the bike.

I know we have some members here who have completed it, much respect by the way, so I will defer any recommendations to them.


If you’ve done Crank the Shield I think you have some idea of what it’s going to take to finish. Mentality is key. They want you to quit.

I’ve done the race twice (DNF '17, 12:01:30 '18) and am signed up for this year’s battle. I’m a high volume guy but I think the theory will hold true for you too.

I went Sweet Spot I & II → Short Power Build → XC Olympic Specialty. I lifted 1-2 times a week and did plyometrics for that explosiveness you’ll need to get up the Negaunee gnar. Looks like you’re into powerlifting so keep that up.

For me, there isn’t a climb out there longer than 10 minutes and most are 30 seconds to 2 minutes so working on sustained power doesn’t make much sense. You need to be able to climb repeatedly in your anaerobic zone and recover quickly—these aren’t hills you can soft pedal at tempo like the majority of the NUE series.

TrainerRoad will only get you so far, you need to ride the NTN, RAMBA, Harlow, or similar punchy, rocky stuff for hours on end. A two hour trainer ride can’t hold a candle to an hour of climbing and descending black rock in Marquette. You hurt everywhere.

Most of all have fun training and use this year to become a better bike handler and learn to do simple bike repairs yourself (i.e. derailleur adjustments, chain installation, fixing every variety of flat) as those are skills you’ll undoubtedly need on race day.

Marji is my favorite race because of the community it supports and supports it. You can read more about my last Marji at Good luck!

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I finished the MG 100 this year, being one of only 37% who did. I was told by a guy I was with that this was the hardest of the previous 4 MG he’s done, and it sure felt all of that to me. I used TR all mid volume plans: Traditional Base 1, 2, 3, General Build, SSB 1, SSB2, General Build, and XC Marathon Specialty. I also raced the Michigan XC race series (CPS) leading up to it and made Marji Gesick my “A” event to peak for.

I would say fitness is the easy part to plan for. Just input your info into Plan Builder and let it spit out a schedule. However, this event is NOT about fitness. Yes you need fitness to finish, but more so you need will, determination, be mentally rock solid and an utmost refusal to quit. I’d work on your mental game as that was the only thing that got me through. I went through heat exhaustion, cramps, numerous crashes, mechanicals, riding in the dark without lights, gut rot and as a cherry on top a pouring rain thunderstorm near the end that made the trails un-ridable both uphill and down. However, I said I wouldn’t quit no matter what even if I had to carry my bike to the finish. It was a brutal experience, it was horrible and if that’s not what you want with 100% of your soul then you’ll have plenty of opportunity to be a #quitter.


Thanks for all the great input! Really appreciated! D.

Loved your post. Took me back to Crank where I told my lady to punch me in the face if I said I would ever attempt to do something like that again. Took it back 10 minutes later… :slight_smile:

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