Paying Homage to the Classic September 100 Milers

AJW pays homage to eight of his favorite fall 100 milers.

By on September 29, 2023 | Comments

AJW's TaproomFor American trail runners and ultrarunners, especially those who are partial to the 100-mile distance, the month of September is a month like no other.

Featuring eight outstanding, old school 100 milers, many of which provide qualification to enter the draw for the Western States 100, Hardrock 100, UTMB, or all three, this is THE month. After all the hoopla of Western States, Hardrock, and UTMB have died down, these eight low-key 100 milers take center stage and they all offer something special to everyone involved.

Wasatch Front 100 Mile — Utah

Held every year on the first Friday after Labor Day, the Wasatch Front 100 Mile is a beast of a race. Billed as “100 miles of heaven and hell,” Wasatch truly delivers with tons of vertical gain, technical trails, and the always challenging hot-during-the-day-cold-at-night conundrum for runners.

John Grobben, the only race director the race has ever had, makes no concessions for elite runners as his famous punch line at the pre-race meeting indicates: “We know that there are a lot of famous runners running this race and we’re not gonna’ introduce any of them. Good luck tomorrow!”

2023 Wasatch Front 100 Mile - start

The start of the 2023 Wasatch Front 100 Mile. Photo:

Pine to Palm 100 Mile — Oregon

The brainchild of Rogue Valley Runners founder and owner, and legendary ultrarunner, Hal Koerner, this point-to-point 100 miler — also held on the first weekend after Labor Day every year — showcases the tremendous diversity and difficulty of the trails of Southern Oregon.

A true grassroots community event, the Pine to Palm 100 Mile is one of those pure 100 milers that deserves to be on any ultrarunner’s bucket list.

Jenn Benna (at center crouching) at the start of the 2012 Pine to Palm 100.Jenn Benna (at center crouching) at the start of the 2012 Pine to Palm 100.

The start of the 2012 Pine to Palm 100. Photo: Michael Lebowitz

Mogollon Monster 100 Mile — Arizona

Operated by Aravaipa Running and currently directed by Noah Dougherty, the Mogollon Monster 100 Mile also takes place on the first weekend after Labor Day. Held in the “Rim Country” of Arizona, the “Mog,” as it’s called locally, is tough in three ways. One, it’s hot; two, it’s technical; and three, it’s long — at last count, at least 106 miles and some would say a bit longer.

In short, it is as elusive as the monster that gives the race its name.

Veronica Rudolphi - 2016 Mogollon Monster 100 Mile Women's Champion

Veronica Rudolphi, 2016 Mogollon Monster 100 Mile Champion, with her monster trophy. Photo: Mogollon Monster 100 Mile

Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile — Colorado

This iconic race, which for years was a classic 50 miler on the fall calendar, was expanded to include the 100-mile distance about a dozen years ago, by long-time race director Fred Abramowitz.

Known for its large prize purse, different start times for “hares” and “tortoises,” and a simply stunning course in the mountains around Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile is one of those races that acts bigger than it is. A fun event, with all kinds of things going on around the race in this endurance mecca, it seems to wrap together the old with the new rather well.

Tara Dower - 2023 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile - women's winner

Tara Dower on her way to winning the 2023 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile. Photo: Paul Nelson

IMTUF 100 Mile — Idaho

Jeremy Humphrey is a badass ultrarunner. Embracing old school values and his passion for the sport, several years back he created the IMTUF 100 Mile in his beloved Idaho mountains.

While the official name of the race is the Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Festival, everyone pretty much calls it IMTUF. And, good lordy, is it tough! Combining technical singletrack, classic Idaho scree scrambles, and the usual supply of PUDS (pointless ups and downs), Jeremy has created a course, and an event, that will surely stand the test of time.

Drew Petersen - Ups and Downs - Running-IMTUF 2021

Drew Petersen during the 2021 IMTUF 100 Mile. Photo: Grant Petersen

Grindstone 100 Mile by UTMB — Virginia

Many heads were turned, mine included, when news broke a few months ago that the Grindstone 100 Mile was becoming a UTMB World Series event.

However, I had faith that race director, race founder, and good friend Clark Zealand would be able to walk the line and maintain the old school vibe that has characterized this race for almost two decades, while also embracing the growth and innovation that Ironman is bringing to the sport. From reports on the ground, last weekend, this first year did just that. This event in the rugged mountains of Central Appalachia is one that will keep you honest, and make you work.

Mike McMonagle - 2023 Grindstone by UTMB 100 Mile - men's winner

Mike McMonagle, the 2023 Grindstone by UTMB 100 Mile winner. Photo: Grindstone by UTMB

Yeti 100 Mile — Virginia

Jason Green, the Grand Poobah of the Yeti Trail Runners, has created an accessible, fun, and beautiful 100 miler in his native land of Southwest Virginia. Conducted completely on the Virginia Creeper Trail, this event, held on the last weekend of September, is as much a celebration as it is a race.

Characterized by over-the-top aid stations, tremendous community support, and a race director who is there to hug every finisher from first to last, the Yeti 100 Mile is a true embodiment of the spirit of ultrarunning.

2018 Yeti 100 Mile

A sign on the route of the 2018 Yeti 100 Mile. Photo: Yeti 100 Mile

Bear 100 Mile — Utah and Idaho

The Bear 100 Mile, founded over 20 years ago by veteran ultrarunner, Leland Barker, and currently presided over by the passionate Cody Draper, is to me one of the classic boutique ultras on the circuit.

Held in the prime time of leaf season in northern Utah and southern Idaho, and boasting 22,000 feet of vert, the Bear is not for the faint of heart. And yet the organizers and the longtime runners continue to make it feel accessible, homespun, and just one of those races you feel like you must do before you choose to hang it up.

The Bear 100 2014 - Morning

Autumnal colors on the route of the Bear 100 Mile in 2014. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

And there you have it! Eight classic 100 milers spread across the U.S. through September. What a great time to be an ultrarunner!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Caldera Brewing Company logoThis week’s beer of the week comes from Caldera Brewery Company in Ashland, Oregon. Caldera’s Pilot Rock Porter is a sweet and nutty take on this classic variety.  Smooth and easy drinking, Pilot Rock is one of those Porters that makes you look twice and wonder if this is really as dark as it looks!

Call for Comments

  • Have you attended any of these races? Which ones, and tell us about them!
  • What are your other fall favorites?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.