Nestled near the sun-kissed landscape of St. George, Utah, the True Grit Epic MTB is a testament to endurance, technique, and the breathtaking allure of the West in Santa Clara, Utah. Our team considers it to be one of the Best Mountain Biking Events in the Southwest and Utah. As the curtain-raiser for the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE), a series that includes some of the best mountain biking events in the country, the True Grit sets an electrifying tone for both the Century and Marathon Categories.
Produced by GRO Races, a producer many best in class events, the True Grit Epic MTB, with a field limit of 850 participants, gives racers embark on an exhilarating journey through the desert landscapes of Southern Utah. The event, sprawling across two weekends and including the sister gravel event True Grit Gravel Epic, taking place the following weekend, beckons riders worldwide to challenge themselves amid the beauty of the Southwest.
Event & Course Info
The True Grit Epic MTB has evolved over the years to include multiple options for racing, transcending mountain biking to include gravel racing. The MTB options are TG 100 Epic, TG 50 Marathon Epic, TG 15 Challenge and the Extreme Grit Stage Race (gravel and mountain).
Beginning in downtown Santa Clara, the course briefly graces the pavement, providing a scenic view of historic edifices. However, the real magic unfolds when riders venture into the rugged terrains south of Santa Clara. The route encompasses sandy washes, rock formations, intricate single-tracks, and towering ridges offering panoramic vistas of desert plateaus and red mountains.
The True Grit course comprises three significant riding arenas of St. George – the Red Bluff, Curly Hollow, and Boomer Hill area of the Santa Clara River Reserve. Iconic trails like the Zen trail, Bear-Claw Poppy, Stucki Springs, Rim Runner, and Barrel Roll contribute to its technicality. Pre-riding is strongly advised due to some challenging sections or participating in the TG Camp.
TG 100 Epic: Two laps of the intricate course, covering a distance of 88.6 miles with a formidable elevation gain of 12,295 ft.
TG 50 Marathon Epic: A slightly shorter challenge, 46 miles in length with an elevation gain of 6,197 ft.
TG 15 Challenge: A condensed yet thrilling version of the Epic, this course provides a flavor of the True Grit experience. Notable sections include the Rim Runner Loops and the Barrel Rolls trail.
Extreme Grit Stage Race: For all of you fit and crazy people looking to make your suffering dreams come true…Stage 1 = the TG 50 Marathon Epic course, Stage 2: Self-Supported Ride the day before the Gravel event course TBC, Stage 3 = True Grit Gravel Epic course.
Aid stations, peppered at strategic locations, offer not only food and hydration but also first aid and mechanical assistance. Two for the TG 50, and four for the TG 100, ensure riders are well-equipped throughout. To ensure safety, riders must meet specific cutoff points, with the overarching deadline being 6 PM. Be sure to check out the official 2023 Racer Guide for all of the details.
Post-race, the streets of Santa Clara come alive. Food trucks serve up delectable treats, Salt Fire Brewing quenches thirsts with their finest brews, and Sky Adobe’s tunes set the perfect backdrop. The expo isn’t just a place to collect your race packet, but an avenue to connect with the MTB community, enveloped in Santa Clara’s warm embrace. With a $5000 cash purse, the champions of various categories receive not only monetary prizes but also coveted entries into the subsequent year’s race.
The Grit Expo weekend is an excellent multi-weekend jamboree bringing the Gravel and Mountain Bike communities together for their tough races and a world-leading stage race combining the two disciplines in fashion. With top logistics, food trucks, drinking options, a fair-style expo, and riding your bike, the True Grit Epic is one of the best mountain bike festivals in the world.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
The True Grit Epic MTB is held in Santa Clara which is near St. George, UT. The area often referred to as Greater Zion, is situated just beyond the reach of regular snowfalls, resulting in a temperate climate and an extended growing season. Uniquely positioned at the convergence of the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau, this area boasts a unique blend of flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world. The landscape is a captivating mix of sandstone formations, rock outcroppings, uplifted terrains, and remnants of ancient volcanoes, all carved by the meandering Virgin River. St. George, the heart of this region, is a bustling town of 80,000 residents, bordered by expansive public lands. This offers its inhabitants an unparalleled outdoor living experience.
The host hotels include Budget Inn and Suites or the Inn Santa Clara, Freedom Vacation Rentals, and Paradise Village at Zion in Santa Clara. There is limited onsite camping at the venue that can be reserved when you register. Alternatively, Snow Canyon State Park is located 8 miles from the venue, while Gunlock State Park, Quail Lake State Park, and Sand Hollow State Park are all within 15 Miles of the Venue. Primitive camping can be found in Green Valley, near the back side of the race course. Primitive Camping can be found on BLM Land west of the Bear Claw Poppy Trail Head or near Hwy 7 & River Road. There are also plenty of vacation rentals that would suit a variety of needs.
The culinary scene in St. George, Utah, is a blend of traditional American fare and international influences, with a growing number of local eateries emphasizing farm-to-table offerings and regional specialties set against the backdrop of the city’s stunning desert landscapes. From casual diners to upscale restaurants, St. George offers a diverse range of gastronomic experiences reflecting its evolving cultural tapestry. Local favorites include Wood Ash Rye, Angelica’s Mexican Grill, and Xetava Gardens Cafe.
Santa Clara, nestled comfortably near the bustling city of St. George in the southwestern corner of Utah, offers a myriad of outdoor opportunities, especially in March when the mild weather creates a perfect atmosphere for exploration and adventure. Just a stone’s throw away from Santa Clara is the Snow Canyon State Park, a haven for hikers and nature lovers. In March, the temperatures are ideal to explore the park’s over 38 miles of hiking trails. Wander through the Petrified Dunes, discover the secrets of the Lava Flow Trail, or challenge yourself with the Hidden Pinyon Trail. Each route provides a unique perspective on the park’s vibrant geology, from towering sandstone cliffs to ancient lava tubes. Don’t forget to bring a camera; the colorful mix of vermilion, white, and pink hues set against a clear blue sky is nothing short of breathtaking.
March in Santa Clara is a climber’s dream. The cooler weather ensures the sandstone grips remain crisp, and the sun bathes the rocks in a gentle warmth. Two favorite spots for climbers in the area are Pioneer Park and Chuckwalla Wall. While Pioneer Park is perfect for bouldering and offers climbs suitable for all skill levels, Chuckwalla Wall is particularly popular among sport climbers. With over 80 bolted routes ranging from easy to challenging, Chuckwalla offers something for everyone. The nearby Turtle Wall is also an excellent spot for those seeking less crowded climbs. The awe-inspiring views from the top, encompassing the vast desert landscapes, will make every ascent worth the effort.
The True Grit Epic MTB’s sister gravel event taking place the following weekend, True Grit Gravel Epic, is considered one of the Best Gravel Cycling Events in the Southwest. They also produce 25 Hours in Frog Hollow, unPAved (one of the Best Gravel Events in the Mid-Atlantic for 2024), 6 Hours in Frog Hollow, and HRing taking place in 2024 in Iceland. For those crazy enough to take on the Triple Challenge, by racing True Grit Epic MTB, True Grit Gravel Epic, and the 6 hours in Frog Hollow, this is how you kick your race season off with a bang!
The True Grit Epic MTB is part of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE). The National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) is a race series that has some of the best endurance mountain bike races in the United States. NUE comprises an Epic Series, 100-mile events, and a Marathon series, which includes 50-mile and 75k length events:
- True Grit 100/50
- Cohutta 100 – Big Frog 65
- Mohican MTB 100
- Wilderness 101k
- Telluride 100/50
- Shenandoah 100
- Marji Gesick 100/50
- Ring of Fire 100
- Big Grizzly 100/75
- Carrabassett 100
- Pierre’s Hole 50/100
For multi-sport athletes looking for in-state events to round out their calendar in Utah, be sure to check out another great in-state gravel event the Crusher in the Tushar from Life Time Events and part of their Life Time Grand Prix Series. Road cyclists will want to add the Utah-Cache Gran Fondo to their list which is a GFNS Partner Event and a UCI Worlds Qualifer, as well as Gran Fondo Moab from the TransRockies team and part of their Race Series. Our team considers all of these to be some of the Best Road Cycling Events in the Southwest.
Trail runners will appreciate Antelope Canyon Ultras and Bryce Canyon Ultras from Vacation Races which is a UTMB and Wasatch Front 100 Qualifier, along with the slew of other best in class trail running events in Utah.