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Norco: Revolver HT 1 120, Revolver FS 1 120, Sight A1, Search XR
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Just realized MTB Nationals were announced for Gambrill State Park in MD. Looking for any intel on the course. From the few Youtube videos I've seen, it looks to be rocky, or maybe that's just a small part that makes everybody's hilight reel??

The course is here: 2021 USA Cycling Marathon MTB Nationals

It's 25.8K, so I'm sure it's multiple laps, but I haven't seen a confirmed distance anywhere on the USAC site: USAC event

Thanks for any information, I would be racing age group on a FS, probably Mezcals or Barzos.
 

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Let's just say those drops of water shown on the trail map are actually tears.

The steeper stuff on the course map will be the rockiest, close to Gambrill; the further east you head, especially after crossing Hamburg Road, the chunk mellows out a bit, and the rocks become "features", rather than gardens. Nothing too crazy though.
 

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It's listed as being 2 laps. So only 32 miles for a "marathon " race. To me that's pretty short. You would think they'd make it 3 laps and have it close to 50 at least. Idk. Seems a little thrown together without a lot of thought and a lot of last minute decisions.
 

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It's listed as being 2 laps. So only 32 miles for a "marathon " race. To me that's pretty short. You would think they'd make it 3 laps and have it close to 50 at least. Idk. Seems a little thrown together without a lot of thought and a lot of last minute decisions.
Guess you have not ridden there. 32 miles is going to be difficult and slow compared to other courses.
 

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Definitely run a FS for this course - it's definitely a rocky course. While there is really only 1 decent downhill on this course (at least compared to what can be ridden there) it is a fairly technical downhill on a shorter travel bike. I would not run the mezcal here, a barzo would be the better choice, but if you're up for it, I would recommend a slightly heavier casing rear tire than you might normally run - lots of pointy rocks that I'm sure will cause a lot of people headaches on the main descent from a mechanicals standpoint. My XC casing mezcal lasted exactly 1 ride here (my first ride here) before it met it's demise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the replies, it's been helpful! My FS bike is 120/120. I will definitely not be running any tan wall Vittoria tires - they do seem to slice pretty easily.

2 laps does seem short, even if they are slow speed. Marathon implies distance, not like a timed 6 or 24 hour race.
 

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I'd agree that marathon implies distance, but I'm sure the race organizers also have an average time they expect pros to finish the race in. My guess is that the distance for this course is based on what they think that average will be. I'm not sure where you normally ride, but I'd be surprised to see average speeds above 8.5mph on this course (outside of the pros).
 

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I see some local people pre riding the loop in around 1hr 45 min. So the top racers will likely be doing this course in 3 hours. Techy or not a 3 hour 32 mile course is short for a marathom race. Look at the Worlds course.. that's a marathon distance course and techy. 82 miles and taking around 7 hours. I don't think usac Nats should be that extreme but it should be 3 loops making it close to 50 miles and 5 hours to complete. From what I hear they are some great trails though there in gambrill and watershed
 

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Would be curious about knowing details about the race loop. I spoke to someone who said it is 'rocky' but that's all I got. I need to decide on my hardtail or trail bike setup to pretend to be an XC bike. It takes extreme race conditions for me to set aside my hardtail but you never know.
 

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There should be a lot of videos available, search Gambril State Park (the yellow trail in particular) and Search Catovid, which the race will be doing uphill instead of the more typical downhill. I'm not a marathon racer and am commenting just as a local, but given the rocks a short travel lightweight trail bike may be better.
 

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I see some local people pre riding the loop in around 1hr 45 min. So the top racers will likely be doing this course in 3 hours. Techy or not a 3 hour 32 mile course is short for a marathom race. Look at the Worlds course.. that's a marathon distance course and techy. 82 miles and taking around 7 hours. I don't think usac Nats should be that extreme but it should be 3 loops making it close to 50 miles and 5 hours to complete. From what I hear they are some great trails though there in gambrill and watershed
USAC rules state a Marathon is between 37 and 62 miles (63+…100K+ being an ultra).


The course will likely have a start loop that should be integrated into lap 1. Or a modified half loop. Start loops with a road and a selection point are much easier to incorporate.


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USAC rules state a Marathon is between 37 and 62 miles (63+…100K+ being an ultra).


The course will likely have a start loop that should be integrated into lap 1. Or a modified half loop. Start loops with a road and a selection point are much easier to incorporate.


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I asked them this very question and here's the response:

"There will not be a shorter start lap, but the race will start on a two lane paved road which will assist in creating separation in the field. But the race will be just the 2 laps of 16 miles each for a total of 32 miles. Let me know if you have any other questions! Have a wonderful day!"

Also, I'm pretty sure the paved road is fairly short.. maybe quarter mile of slight incline. So there won't be a lot of time for seperation hitting that singletrack.
 

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I asked them this very question and here's the response:

"There will not be a shorter start lap, but the race will start on a two lane paved road which will assist in creating separation in the field. But the race will be just the 2 laps of 16 miles each for a total of 32 miles. Let me know if you have any other questions! Have a wonderful day!"

Also, I'm pretty sure the paved road is fairly short.. maybe quarter mile of slight incline. So there won't be a lot of time for seperation hitting that singletrack.
It could be repeating part of the end of the lap?

If not, that’s not a USAC legal marathon.

That’s an XCO race.


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It could be repeating part of the end of the lap?

If not, that’s not a USAC legal marathon.

That’s an XCO race.


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That's what I mentioned too. I even specifically asked if anything was going to be included to make it closer to 40ish miles and he said no... it will be the 32 and that's it. So anyone with complaints about it not meeting what is technically usac legal length might want to email. Maybe they'll change it to 3 laps if they hear from people..idk.
 

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The course is very fun, very challenging!

3 hour finish time? Not likely for many racers.

3 laps??? No, no, and NO!!!

Saw a good sign on the way to ride the course today - Gambrill Park Road and Trails will be closed on 10/23 9am - 5pm (for MTB Nationals). That should allow for enough parking and hopefully reduce hiker traffic on the trails on race day.
 
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