Racing the Manx 100 | Jon Fearne | Head Coach E3 Coaching

Sometimes called a marathon or an ultra MTB, whatever you call it this 100 mile event is going to push your limits whether you are racing or just wanting to complete this event you will need to be incorporating some specific training into your preparation.

You are going to need strength for this event! By strength, I am referring to leg strength and all round core strength. WHY? Check the profile below:

Long steep climbs will require good leg strength whilst the rocky nature of some of the climbing means a solid core will help you manhandle these sections better. A solid endurance base fitness will be needed as you are looking at a long day out on the bike (between 10 and 15 hours).

Good technical skills are also a pre-requisites you will find some very natural and demanding trails, especially on the downhills. As the profile is unrelenting and natural terrain by the time you hit 80 miles you will be carrying a lot of fatigue both physically and mentally which means the riding becomes even more demanding so making sure you are confident with skills will make a big difference towards the end sections of this race. You can easily throw it all away in a silly error with the finish in sight.

I would recommend you have done some long solo training sessions to make sure you have mentally prepared for finding yourself on your own at times during the event, this can be psychologically tough when you are low on energy and are not 100% sure of when the next glimpse of civilisation may come along. This will also give you a chance to test your kit and nutrition strategy over a long period.

Racing the Manx 100

E3 Coaching

With a 06:30 start your early morning routine will also need some tweaking to make sure you begin the race fuelled.  Staying on top of your nutrition (both fluid and solid) and ensuring you don’t go anywhere close to the “man with the hammer” will be imperative over this journey, irrespective if you are a race leader or just trying to complete the event.

Unlike a multi-lap race, you will need to carry all your own spares, tools and any spare clothing that may be required plus nutrition to get you between bag drop stations (there are six bag drops on the 100 mile route). You are basically taking care of yourself.You will find a few water stops offered by event organiser but you are better off forgetting these and make sure your bag drops are well prepared.   The bag drops are 12-15 miles apart throughout the route.

Having a GPS device and good map reading skills will help keep your head straight, even though the course is marked(with about 800 arrows)I have mentioned that you may find yourself alone for some time and being able to work out how far the next bag drop is can be the difference between mental breakdown and successfully getting to the line. Prior preparation will go a long way in helping you with this event.

Top tips from 2 time Manx 100 rider Matt Jones:

–       Make sure you can easily identify your bag drop (although everyone uses hi-vis so think of something unpopular like a Donald Trump supporters goodie bag!)

–       Bag drop essentials: spare tube, spare co2, spare gloves/buff, spare jacket if weather is looking bad, energy food of choice, water bottles, chamois cream. Spread these out amongst different bags as needed, more is better!

–       If you find yourself climbing or descending with a local, chances are they know the best lines so follow them. Some of the climbs you can end up pushing whilst others ride round a different line

–       Don’t go too hard on the early climbs, you may well run out of gas for the later monster hills

–       Have a backup power bank for your GPS device, in a real-world scenario your claimed 15 hours battery life just isn’t the case once you allow for actually navigating with it properly

–       Keep as much weight on the bike as possible, use two big water bottles on the bike with saddle/ top tube bags if possible rather than carrying a bag which can become uncomfortable over that distance.

–       Print out the route profile and stick it to your top tube to help measure your effort and tick off the climbs

–       Don’t linger too long at bag drops, get in, get out, keep moving and warm. Better to eat on the move and get a breather on the bike, every minute standing still is a minute longer before a warm bath!

–       Book yourself in on the after race curry! You will have earned it!

My training advice now with only a couple of months to go:

  • Over geared hill climbs – for strength
  • Controlled heart rate climbs – to avoid reaching too far into the red zone
  • Rides with full race kit being carried – so its normal when you are out in the hills
  • Find some natural rocky bridleways to practice your skills, berms and jumps in trail centres will not prepare you for this!!
  • Make sure your nutrition plan is dialled in – so you know what works and what does not
  • Off the bike core and strength, or even using your bike (ask E3C athletes about this)

Now lastly I would suggest you treat this event as an adventure more than a race, trust me when you cross the line it will feel much more like you have survived an adventure, so prepare for one!

If you would like any help in the last two months E3 are offering a special rate of £75 for 2 months coaching to make sure you are ready.