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Cohutta kicks off National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series

The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series of 100-mile races across the US will kick off Saturday with the Cohutta 100. The race will begin at the Ocoee Whitewater Center in Copperhill, Tennesee. It features a 100-mile loop around the Cohutta Wilderness area with 12,000 feet of climbing en route.

The Cohutta 100 covers challenging rolling terrain with big climbs. The wildest terrain includes 35+ miles of singletrack trails. The remainder mixes remote forest service roads, mountainous curves, and breathtaking mountain pass vistas.

Accomplished 100-miler racers like Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing), Jeff Schalk (Trek Co-op), Christain Tanguy, Harlan Price (Team Cystic Fibrosis) and Sam Koerber (Gary Fisher 29er crew) are expected to attend. NUE Series regular Chris Eatough will not be racing; he retired at the end of 2009.

"It's all the usual guys," said Bishop on the eve of the race to Cyclingnews upon considering his competition. "But you never know - someone always surprises."

The racers may be in for a drenching. "The weather forecast looks a little dodgy with a 70 percent chance of showers in the morning and severe thunderstorms in the afternoon," said Bishop. "It could get interesting."

2008 NUE series champion Cheryl Sornson (Team Cystic Fibrosis) and Daniel Musto (Kenda) are among the women's favorites.

The race is often referred to as the fastest 100-miler. Last year, Schalk won in a blistering six hours, 23 minutes and six seconds ahead of Bishop and Chris Beck. Carey Lowery, who will be absent this year won the women's race in 8:06:47 ahead of Paula Burks and Musto.

The men's winner will take home $700 while the first woman will win $500.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.