The Wilderness 101 Marathon The Recap
How I finished the Wilderness101 Marathon. An epic 75 mile mountain bike race in the Pennsylvania mountains. The race took me almost 10 hours to finish and was a true physical and mental accomplishment for me.
My story is one I believe many women and newer riders can relate too. I really like biking but come to it with no athletic “talent.” I simply put in the time. I’m not fast but I'm steady. To take on this challenge, I hired a coach from Pro13 and followed her plan. She calls me her Diesel Engine rider.
Nonetheless, I was feeling unsure and insecure on the day of the race, everyone looked so professional and experienced. Plus, I was not in the top form to start . . . I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but I was battling nausea the night before and on the car ride up. I pretty much stayed in one of those beautiful porta potties until it was time to start. Talking with my coach we decided I would just try and start the event and let myself stop any time. My mantra, “Be me”. Which is to say not to worry about everyone passing. Right off the bat, that was exactly what happened! I was pretty much at the back of the pack and at one point I realised that I was dead last because the fellow behind me was the sweep. The good news is that I wasn’t totally alone; there were a handful of riders near me. Sticking with my mantra, I didn’t try to push hard, I had a long day ahead. So this little group at the back of the pack chatted as we climbed our first big hill and now Bill is my new friend. His story gave me strength, 4 years ago he weighed 500 lbs and his goal was very simple: survive to the finish! Bill doesn’t know this, but talking with him helped get out of my own pain and as the day wore on my nausea went away. I started to feel pretty good. Then the heat came. . . I was putting ice down the front and back of my shirt. At the aid stations I could see there were a lot of folks struggling and I heard the sag wagon picked up a lot of riders. When I chugged through the rock gardens as faster riders were walking every single one, I stopped doubting myself. The hours were building, hills and the miles kept coming, and I saw more folks walking on the climbs. I was building confidence, the insecurities of the morning were fading. Hours and hours of riding and training (not talent) in Michaux paid off because while I was not fast, I was steady -- I never went to a dark place and I never walked (until the boulder section at the end where EVERYONE walks). I survived to the finish and promptly got my pint glass and filled it with the most amazing beer.
The big thing I need to figure out is a different pair of riding pants . . . the chamois edge was hitting a pressure point on my saddle. In order to get 100 miles at the Shenandoah 100 MTB, I need to fix that. I might have been able to push at the end if my buns had not been so tender.
So that is the Wilderness 101 Marathon recap report. Mostly all good! Oh, the tunnels are creepy. Strava says 9+ hours I was out there for 10:45, oof. Thank you to all my mountain biking friends for all the Strava kudos!! (I saw that Bill did make his goal too!)
The end goal is to add 25 more miles with even more hills at the Shenandoah 100 MTB. #wilderness101k
The Wilderness 101 Mountain Bicycle Race is an ultra-endurance 101 mile (162 km) mountain bike race held annually in late July. The race is commonly called the W101, akin to a first year college course, such as Physics 101, at the nearby Penn State University.
The race was first held in 1991 and been held continuously since 2001. The W101 starts and ends in a small village Coburn, Pennsylvania near Millheim, Pennsylvania. The W101 course is a single loop covering roads, forest roads and trails. The total climbing in the race is approximately 12,000 feet (3,658 meters.) The majority of the course is within the Bald Eagle and Rothrock Pennsylvania State Forests. The event is organised and run primarily by Shenandoah Mountain Touring (located in Harrisonburg, VA) and has been one of the stops of the National Ultra Endurance Series since 2006.
Jessica Case


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