Shenandoah Mountain 100

Has anyone done the Shenandoah Mtn 100? I’m signed up for this year’s event and haven’t ever done an ultra endurance mtb race before - I’m wondering what sort of training as well as race tips people may have. I’ve been doing some road riding (something I hadn’t ever done, but was advised by just about everyone I’ve asked) and I live in Western NC which allows me access to tons of trails in the Pisgah National Forest.

From what I’ve heard, the race is much more technical than Leadville, as one can expect to descend strictly on singletrack and not all of the climbing is gravel. 100 miles and 12k+ ft of elevation.

Looking forward to what people have to say!

Minor mention:

I’ve done it five times. My biggest bit of advice is to go out a bit hard to clear the inevitable conga line up the first bit of single track. Once through that it clears up pretty well. It’s not on my list this year but from what I’ve heard they may have to reroute the course due to construction activities.

Also, don’t let the “death climb” scare you. It’s probably the easiest climb of the day since it’s fire road. Lynn and Brayleys are much harder.

I’m sure I’ve got more, but that’s what came to mind real quick.

P.S. I love that race :wink:


Thanks for the tips! What sort of finish times were you getting/shooting for, if you don’t mind me asking? I’ve seen this advice around and wonder if it is something I should shoot for, as well as if it will cause me to blow up later in the race. Did interval training allow you to recover within the race from that?

Best was a ~9:40ish, worst was just shy of 11 I think.

Truthfully, even if you get caught in that first conga line it’s not the end of the race (think 10 min). I just enjoy that trail enough it’s been worth it to me. It can be a bit disheartening to start walking so early in the race if you aren’t prepared for it and riding your brakes down a machine cut flow trail like Tillman West should be illegal :wink: . You will end up walking up a good chunk of Lynn trail (the next climb) anyway unless you are aiming to win the race, since they are about the only people that may be able to clean that part. I believe the Strava segment near the top is called “so steep I cried”. The payoff for that though is an amazing descent down Wolf though.

It is very front loaded on elevation, so my best years I’ve done a lot of hill training. I’d equate a lot of the early stuff to over/unders vs intervals, lots of short steep pitches thrown in on pretty steady climbs. I’ve used both the century and XC marathon plans after a sustained power build block and both seemed to work pretty well.

Other points of interest:
Bring a bathing suit to take a dip in the creek afterwards if you make it back before dark.
The fresh cut fries at Aid 6 are amazing.
The atmosphere in the campground is awesome and you even get woken up by a gong!
I’d recommend doing a couple of the climbs beforehand to get an idea of where they end and scope some of the downhills. There are a couple of tricky ones. I wouldn’t necessarily do the death climb though, like I said it’s just a fire road.

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Rambling, long winded post warning:

I’m also doing it again this year. Last year was a hot humid muddy mess and a pretty major failure for me…

Course record is under 7 hours.
sub 8 hrs is definite top 10 O/A (sometimes top 5)
sub 9 hrs is usually top 50
A good buddy finished 28th O/A at 8:40 a couple years ago
Anything under 10 hours is really strong.
Average finish time is 12+ hours
Last finisher is usually 14-1/2 - 15 hours.

Typically, it is big fire road climbs and big single track descents.
Lynn trail and Bridgehollow/Braileys are the two main singletrack climbs.

If you ride Pisgah regularly, I don’t think any of the technical features in the SM course will bother you at all. For example the " rough side" of Daniel ridge trail is way more technical than anything in the SM course.

Long winded course description to follow:

Opening climb (narrowback mtn): Starts pavement, then fire road, to single track 7 miles approx. 1K elevation. This singletrack is where the conga line is.
Tillman west descent. fun flow trail, if you’re back with the 12 hour folks this will be painfully slow.
water only aid 1 is at the bottom of this descent.

Transition to Lynn trail: you’ll have 8ish miles of gravel/pavement generally trending up. You’ll ride this gravel again in the opposite direction in a little while.

2nd climb (Lynn trail): 1.2 miles 1200 ft up. This is narrow single track and as the number suggest it is STEEP. Most of it is not terribly techy if you have good low speed balance.

Wolf trail down: (5 miles 1500 ft down) I think this is the most fun part of the whole course. It has quite a bit of rock, but much of it is hand placed and is super rideable. Note that there are a couple alternate lines with mandatory drops of 2-4 ft. If you stay on the main line, everything rolls. There are 2 short but very steep up pitches in this section.

transition to aid 2/6 ( 7ish miles gravel/pavement) gradual up/down/up 500 ft climbing,
*** this gravel road section is where the construction is that might effect the course layout.***

transition to hankey mtn: pavement 3 miles one steep paved pitch in between (you will ride this again in the last race segment)

climb 3 full hankey mtn: 5+ miles 1700 ft all fire road usually overgrown and much steeper toward the top. (Note intersection about 2 miles up you’ll turn left here in last race segment.)

Dowells draft descent: 5 miles of awesome. The upper part is super fun with a few rocks and switchbacks. The lower section is a bunch of fairly narrow side hill at times off camber. Aid 3 is at the bottom of this descent.

transition to bridge hollow climb: 5 miles of false flat pavement most of this is on US Rt250 and is pretty sketchy as far as car traffic. If you’ve got the legs, find a roady to draft…

Bridge hollow climb: 2 miles 1Kish ft up all singletrack. Most of it narrow off camber side hill. Many hike a fair amount of this.

Braleys pond descent: 10-15 min super fun, rowdy at times, some exposure up near the top. (This is where the guy died in the race in 2015). Then a couple miles of rolling singletrack into aid 4.

From here it’s basically up hill for the next 23 miles (pavement to gravel to fire road ending at the high point of the course). The 1st 10 miles is mostly false flat with a couple downs to give you a break unofficial aid station 4.5 is here (beer handups if you desire). When you turn onto the fire road, the official “death climb” has started (8ish miles 1600ish ft)…at aid 5 folks think the death climb is over, but then you get to head into “The killing fields” I think this part is harder than the death climb. I don’t know how many clearings you go thru, but it feels like they will never end…Of note: there are time cuts at each aid station, but the aid 5 cut is the 1st one that really gets a bunch of folks. There are two different cutoffs here depending if you have lights or not.

Chestnut ridge descent (8ish miles 2500ish ft down) this is good old school rowdy back country desending. I think there are 4 up pitches in this section. If fresh they wouldn’t be any big deal, with 75+ miles in your legs, for most, they are a very big deal… then roll into aid 6 (same as aid2) for fresh cut French fries!! By the time mere mortals make it to this point, many of the fast finishers have come out to cheer them on (Jeremiah Bishop has been known to where a wrestling mask and scream at folks here. You’ve got 12 miles to finish.

From aid 6 you follow the same transition that you did leaving aid 2. climb Hankey mtn to the intersection mentioned earlier, turn, follow double track on the ridge for a little bit, down a steep little chunk of singletrack (often quite loose). A little double track and some flow trail back into the camp ground. Note: Slow folks will be riding from aid 6 in the dark.

Old race brief. Some info may not be current.


I went to an ultra endurance race “clinic” hosted by Gordon Wadsworth (4time NUE SS champion) a couple years ago and he had the following advice on pacing:

Make the 1st 1/3 seem too easy, the middle 1/3 feel like a reasonable pace, the last 1/3 will be everything else you have in the tank plus some more…


Bump as this race is a month out - I am thinking about doing it, anyone else in or have additional insight? I used to live in the area but didn’t ride all that much - recommendations on a good tire for the course?

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I’m running Maxxis Rekons as recommended by my mechanic who has done SM100. I raced in the Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell a couple weekends ago and felt they were a great race day tire especially when considering the amount of gravel that is involved.

Maxxis Rekon would be a great tire out there. As for other advice The post on
june 24th from Notso pretty much sums it up.

I’ve alternated between the Racing Ralph, Specialized Fast Trak (before they new design) and the Maxxis Aspen on my Epic. The Racing Ralph were super fast and grippy but we’re pretty shot after the race (although the course has gotten a bit easier with the trail work done on Wolf). The older fast traks always did great for me there as well. The new ones…not so much. Last year, despite the weather, I found the Aspens to be grippy enough for the rocks and super fast rolling. A couple of the super fast guys I know were also running the Aspens. In any case, you want a fast rolling tire with decent sidewall protection. Don’t skimp on that and run some paper thin tire. The course will eat them alive if taken with any speed. The rocks at the bottom of wolf have claimed many a tire as have the ones on a couple of the other downhills. The last downhill before the fire road that leads to the campground can be pretty brutal on a tire as well. They did have a beer hand up there last year though, so at least you could have a drink while you fix a flat!

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