Looking for a great adventure and excuse to go explore one of the emerging mountain bike meccas in the US?
From Travel Marquette: “Blame Danny: Welcome to the Marji Gesick 100” – a film byAaron Peterson. “Blame Danny” is the 7th outdoor film release by Peterson, among other promotional work, and features his trademark style which blends a mix of storytelling methods and themes to simultaneously capture the action of the Marji Gesick 100 mile mountain bike and running race, the value of the outdoor recreation infrastructure around Marquette Michigan, and the history of the area, dating back to an iron ore deal gone wrong between settlers and native American tribal chief Madjigijig (Marji Gesick).
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Why Blame Danny? Danny Hill, the Marji Gesick course designer, comes from an endurance rollerblading and running background. Now a retired prison guard, Hill grew up in the Western iro
n-mining heritage of Marquette County, where people are known for their sisu. Once Hill began biking, he exemplified his sisu taking on the Arrowhead 135 where he got frostbite on his foot. Afterwards, during the Tour Divide, the frostbitten foot infected even further to the point that amputation was necessary after he had finished. The video showcases the sadistic side to the race, and Danny, that made sure to include over 12,000 feet of climbing, and about 95% of it singletrack, for the 100 miles in Marquette County (pop. 67,077 – 2010 Census). This easily rivals any riding out West. “My role is to make the trail; to make it as tough as possible” – Danny Hill.
That’s just the beginning of why you can blame Danny. Did we mention that only one person has ever finished the Marji Gesick 100 Ultra Run? And they did it in 34 hours and 25 minutes. Blame Danny. Local Marquette blacksmith, Gordon Gearhart, creates belt buckles for all sub-12 hour finishers.
Showcasing some of the best trails in the US, Marquette County and the Marji Gesick doesn’t allow even the best riders time to rest by utilizing the elevation change and rocky terrain that is found up against Lake Superior. MTB Hall of Famer and professional mountain biker, Tinker Juarez, was the top finisher in 2016, finishing in 10:12:40. Despite the brutal conditions leaving racers too exhausted to ride lines cleanly, Tinker still confirms that the Marji Gesick was “absolutely the best maintained trails I’ve ever ridden.” Riders can expect rocks, roots, jump lines, flow trails, drops, climbing; expect it all.
Currently a part of the National Ultra Endurance Series calendar for 2017, the Marji Gesick 100, which began in 2015, is a non-profit, point-to-point adventure race across Marquette County, Michigan that takes place on September 22 and 23, 2017, and is run by race promoter, Todd Poquette. All proceeds from the event go toward further maintenance and development of the local trail system in the form of donations to the Range Area Mountain Bike Association (RAMBA) and Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) Singletrack. FilmmakerAaron Peterson followed the Marji Gesick 100 in 2016 and is now sharing the experiences that the event brings.
While the event packs in as much trail as most racers can manage, the reality is that it only scratches the surface of the over 120 miles of county-wide trail network. It certainly includes some of the best portions, there are many hidden gems left for visitors to uncover. Similarly, while Peterson’s storytelling touches on a number of local characters, it can only allude to the broader culture of Marquette, MI,; especially its outdoor sports community, which blends a combination of heartiness, welcoming and toughness that can only be found in smaller population towns that manage challenging seasonal weather conditions and other factors together.