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Marji Gesick 50/100 2024

September 20 - September 22

mountain biker at marji gesick 50/100
Last updated July 12, 2024

The Marji Gesick 50/100 is one of the best long-distance endurance mountain bike races in the United States and is part of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) and takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This is it; this is the tip of the spear when it comes to difficulty - established in 2015 in Ishpeming, MI, this is more than just a race; it’s an expedition into the soul, a journey to discover the extremes of human endurance. The race sells out quickly every year, a nod to the event's popularity.

The Marji Gesick is a product of the 906 Adventure Team and is one of the planet's hardest and most grueling one-day endurance mountain bike races and one that the team at Strambecco considers to be one of the Best Mountain Bike Race Events in the Midwest and one of the Best Cycling Race Events in Michigan. This is not a straightforward 100-miler but obliterates the mountain bike endurance race calendar competition for having a technical single track and a sickening amount of climbing. A great quote from a great mountain biker named Mike Webb goes like this: "I've done some hard stuff. Leadville 100, Maah Daah Hey 100, La Ruta de Los Conquistadores, Lumberjack 100, Butte 100; Hands down, Marji Gesick is the most terrible of them all."

Event & Course Info

There are 3 biking events every year at Marji Gesick 50/100, and every 5 years a 4th colossal 200 mile event. Courses aren't shared to participants until the week of the event, but know that you will be cycling on treacherous trails, challenging your limits, all while navigating through unpredictable weather conditions and formidable terrain. Beyond its brutal route and testing climate, what truly sets the Marji Gesick apart is its philosophy. It doesn't merely challenge the physical prowess of the participants but grills their mental strength and perseverance. The lack of aid stations amplifies the event’s exclusivity, urging participants to be their own saviors, equipped with the right gear and a strategic plan.

The unique LeMans start, where participants of the 100-mile bike and duathlon begin with a half-mile run, and the LeBike, a reverse version requiring riders to bike half a mile to their run, adds another layer of challenge. Moreover, there are tokens to collect at checkpoints, and the race boasts some of the most challenging terrains, from rugged singletrack to relentless wilderness, participants are exposed to paths that seem uphill from the start to finish.

The organizers, 906AT productions, have crafted an event where every participant is a lone wolf. With an emphasis on self-reliance, the message is clear: you're truly on your own.

Here is a run down of each event:
MG100BIKE: A grueling 100-mile bike journey beginning at 7:30 am on Saturday. This also includes the "Worst of Both Worlds." There is a 12 hour cutoff and 22 hours for the Duathlon.
MG50BIKE: A 50-mile bike race setting off at 8:00 am on Saturday.
MINI-MARJI: A shorter version for those seeking a taste, starts at 10:00 am on Saturday.
MG200: The colossal 200-mile race (held every 5 years)

There are also two running events that take place that weekend the MG50 & MG100RUN.

While every participant who braves through is a winner, the ones completing the 100-mile race within 12 hours earn the coveted buckle. For the ultimate biking aficionados, the Triple Crown awaits. Completing three of the most challenging events, including Marji Gesick 50/100, The Crusher, and The Polar Roll, will earn you a lifetime entry into the Hall of Pain. It's not just about the prestige, but also the privilege to attend the "secret event" held annually.

The Marji Gesick 50/100 doesn't just stand out because of its unparalleled challenges. It's impeccably organized, promising ample amenities over the weekend, right from training plans to training camps. As the race organizers put it, participants will undoubtedly be taken care of, the only task at hand – mastering their bikes and minds. The event is no joke, and organizers try to be up front about this as much as possible. It is important that you plan and prepare. Check out the Facebook Group dedicated to all things Marji Gesick for more tips and inside scoop.

Local bike shops in the area that are affiliate with the event include, West End Ski & Trail, Down Wind Sports, and Sports Rack, and can help with any mechanical needs either before or after the beatdown.

Area Accommodations & Things to Do

The host town for the Marji Gesick 50/100, Ishpeming, is nestled in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and is a historic town renowned for its rich mining heritage and picturesque landscapes, serving as a gateway to outdoor adventures and authentic Midwestern experiences. It is a 20 minute drive from the city of Marquette.

There are many accommodation options in the area, including Superior Stay Hotel, the Staybridge Suites, and Nestledown Bed & Breakfast. Alternatively, if you enjoy cooking your own meals in a kitchen, there are also a plethora of vacation rentals from modern cabins to well equipped cottages. For those that appreciate sleeping under the stars, camping options include Brasswire Campground, Heritage Hills or this private Northern Oasis. Many of these options are in close proximity to the RAMBA and Iron Ore Heritage trails.

In regards to food, visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the amount of options available in Marquette, from traditional German cuisine and brew at Steinhaus, to trendy Zephyr Winebar & Cafe and Velodrome Coffee Co. for your morning java.

Those that are making a longer trip out of the event will not be bored with the amount of activities available to them in this part of Michigan. From trail running through lush forests to kayaking on the pristine waters of Lake Superior and experiencing the rush of mountain biking on world-class trails, Marquette, Michigan, and its surroundings offer outdoor athletes a wide array of exhilarating activities to enjoy during the summer months.

Marquette’s Noquemanon Trail Network offers a paradise for outdoor athletes, particularly trail runners. With over 50 miles of interconnected trails winding through diverse landscapes, you’ll find trails suitable for every skill level. Start your adventure with a run along the Carp River Trail, which follows the scenic Carp River and leads to panoramic overlooks. For a more challenging experience, take on the Easier Said Than Done trail, known for its technical terrain and breathtaking views of Lake Superior. The well-maintained trails are a mix of singletrack, rocky sections, and lush forests, making for an exhilarating trail running experience.

Marquette’s proximity to Lake Superior and its surrounding inland lakes offers a haven for kayaking enthusiasts. Launch your kayak into the crystal-clear waters of Lake Superior and explore the striking shoreline, witnessing awe-inspiring rock formations and stunning cliffs. For a more tranquil experience, paddle along the serene waters of Teal Lake, surrounded by lush forests. Adventurous souls can try sea kayaking, an exhilarating way to encounter the lake’s waves and currents. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced paddler, Marquette’s waterways provide an unforgettable kayaking experience.

Those that need a little more dirt under their tires will find their haven at the Marquette South Trails. These world-class mountain biking trails cater to various skill levels, ensuring an exciting experience for everyone. Start with the “Gorge-ous” trail, a beginner-friendly option that combines flowing sections with mild challenges. Advanced riders can tackle the “Down Dogger” trail, renowned for its technical features and thrilling descents. The diverse network offers everything from smooth berms to rocky drops, keeping mountain bikers engaged and enthralled. The breathtaking scenery of dense forests and occasional lake views adds an extra layer of magic to your mountain biking adventure.

Lastly, we recommend that all first timers to the “U.P.” make time to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to have your mind blown from its stunning natural beauty, just over an hour drive from Marquette.

Related Events

The Marji Gesick 50/100 is part of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE), which includes some of the best mountain biking events in the country from the Northwest - Southwest - Rockies - MidAtlantic - New England - to the Southeast.  NUE comprises an Epic Series, 100-mile events, and a Marathon series, which includes 50-mile and 75k length events.

Other top mountain bike events in Michigan include the Lumberjack 100 which is organized by the same producers as the Fargo Sub 48 and the famous Barry-Roubaix Gravel event, one of the Best Gravel Cycling Events in the Midwest. For our multi-sport athletes out there, check out other Strambecco best-rated events taking place in Michigan, such as Hallucination 100 / Run Woodstock trail running event one of the Best Trail Running Events in the Midwest.

Below there is a Veloviewer interactive map of a prior full 100-mile course. You can drag and play around with both the map and the profile. And if you want even more nerdy details about everything there is to know about the course; you can click on the link to view further information.

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