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Review of the Mamba 100 Mile Trail Race – An Inaugural Race that Was Actually a Top Race Event

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Written by Charlie

The Mamba 100 mile trail race was an exceptionally run event with an amazing race director, volunteer staff – all contributing to one of the finest races around.

Most races take place on a single day but for most people running a 100 mile race, you are covering two days. So, this review of the Mamba 100 mile trail race is from the event that took place on November 3-4, 2023. This was an inaugural event that was unlike any other inaugural event that I have ran so here we go with a review!

Review of the Mamba 100 Mile Trail Race

a map of a city

My race overview

Link: Mamba Trail Race – Best price for the event will be this Friday – Black Friday

Being an Inaugural Race

I first heard about the Mamba 100 trail race when race director James Boler talked about it on a trail running Facebook group I am in. The race is located in Memphis, TN. I was intrigued mainly because it started on a Friday. I have wanted to run a 100 mile trail race for years but most of them take place on Saturday and I have to be back home by Sunday. So, seeing it had a Friday start was something that made me feel good about actually being able to complete it.

I will say, though – there is always a bit of uncertainty with some events that are first time events, no matter whether it is a race or something else. With no track record of success, an inaugural event can always have one or two small missteps that add up to a disaster. That is especially true with an ultra marathon where poor planning can translate to a miserable experience for all.

However, as the race got closer, James did a great job with updates and information on social media and via e-mail. It certainly made me feel a lot more comfortable with it!

I actually was going to write a review about this race after the holidays but the Mamba 100 trail race (and all other distances) is opening up with special one day pricing for 2024 on Thanksgiving so I wanted to make sure I got my review out there for any that may consider it. If this whole review is too long, just know this – THIS COULD BE THE BEST ULTRA MARATHON YOU WILL EVER RUN! Just sign up and do it because it is an amazing race and the James is one of the best race directors I have ever seen.

Mamba Race Distances Offered

While I was signing up to do the 100 mile distance, there were also other race distances offered as well. These included a 100km (62 miles), 50km (31 miles), and 25km (15.5 miles). Here are the start times for the races that will take place on November 8-9, 2024:

  • Friday, Nov. 8th – 7am – 100 mile start time
  • Friday, Nov. 8th – 7pm – 100k start time
  • Saturday, Nov. 9th – 7am – 50k start time
  • Saturday, Nov. 9th – 9 am – 25k start time

The race times are staggered in a way that allow for some fresh runners to hit the trails and help support the 100 milers as they make their way through. I missed the starting area for the 100k starters but did see a few of them on the trails with me. I actually had just finished 2 minutes after a ton of 25k runners took off Saturday morning so that would have been a really cool finish to have been greeted by all of them! 🙂

There is a very generous deadline of 5PM on Saturday for all race distances, meaning you have up to 34 hours to finish the 100 mile distance. That is one of the most generous cut-off times I am aware of, especially considering that this trail is much easier than most trail races.

Mamba 100 Course

a group of people in a crowd

Starting line | Mamba 100 Mile Trail Race

For the 100 mile distance, you will run 7 laps on the trails. There is about a total of maybe 1 mile that is on some kind of a road surface but everything else is on trails. Seven laps means 14.3 miles per loop.

a group of men running on a trail in the woods

Mamba 100 Mile Trail Race | Photo by Jenny El Tee

Being 7 laps was actually a very important psychological thing for me. I have run races with even number of laps and when you cross the halfway point at the start/finish area, it can be a tough thing thinking that you are only half done. 🙂 But, with this race, when I reached the start/finish area to close out lap 4, I was already well over half way done with the race.

There is very little ascent gain on this course. My Garmin marked it as a total of 2,600 feet of gain which is nothing over the course of 100 miles. Funnily enough, there are a few spots where it will feel like you are climbing up a huge hill but it really isn’t that bad and it is very short – I mean like just a few feet in actual distance covered.

James the race director did an amazing job in marking the course. There were reflective flags about every .10 of a mile and they were always on your right side. There were some sections of the course that you would cover in both directions and for those, the flags were exactly opposite one another so there was no confusion.

I actually missed a section and that was totally my fault – I was texting. 🙂 Because of that, I actually covered an extra 2 miles in total distance. But, again, that was my fault. The course was exceptionally well marked.

a man running on a path

The Wolf River Bridge | Photo by Jenny El Tee

Around like mile 10 or so, we would cross the biggest bridge of the course over the Wolf River and have to go punch our bibs with a hole punch. We had to do this each time to show that we had visited this spot and done the course all 7 times. In reality, it is very easy to skip certain sections or double punch and I saw some people purposely cheat and cut part of the course. But, they were really only hurting themselves because they would have only covered like 95 miles and they would always know they didn’t run 100 miles.

Here is a YouTube video James made of the course. By the way, he uploaded another video before the race while he was blowing the leaves off the trail for us – that was a huge help since those leaves were covering a lot of rocks and roots that could have ended a lot of runners’ races. Huge step of him again going the extra mile.

Running the trail at night definitely requires a headlamp. One of my lamps died at one point by a mistake and I was plunged into total darkness. Given the fact that I was running in darkness for around 12 hours, and this when I am really tired, you definitely need to take a little more time in the middle of the night to pick your way over the trail. I actually had quite a bit of juice left in me at the end and I know I could have pushed for a better time but I was being really careful on the course during the night to make sure I would actually finish the race!

Aid Stations

There were two aid stations – a huge one at the start and finish area and one at about 3.8 miles going out and then you hit it again with about 3.5 miles left before getting back to the starting area.

Both were incredibly well stocked the entire race. All the normal ultra food was there. For those who don’t know what that is, we are talking pickles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, potatoes, gummies, candy, fruit, ramen, cheese sticks, bacon, chips, donuts, hot dogs, and a whole lot more! They were even making quesadillas which were fantastic – and I ate several!

If this sounds like a lot of food, remember that you need to get fuel in throughout the race because your body can only adequately process so many calories per hour. So eating real food helps you get the fuel you need. I burned almost 14,000 calories during this race so I had to eat a lot to help keep energy levels up.

They had water and Tailwind for liquid as well as other electrolytes to take on the go.

a man wearing a white cap and black shirt

Around mile 43 near the start area | photo by Jenny El Tee

Let me say this – the volunteers for these stations were simply AMAZING! I regret that I did not remember or catch all the names but there was one lady that was at the second aid station the entire time I was out there running (26 hours in total). That is amazing to offer that kind of support for people for that long!

The volunteers were super upbeat and encouraging and it sounded like there was at least one doctor present at the aid stations to help when runners were suffering more than normal.

As I would come into the second aid station – both going out and coming back – volunteers would job towards me to get my water bottles and ask what I wanted. I was able to just sit in a chair after the first few times and get a short couple of minute break while they took care of me – just amazing care and help!

Both aid stations had fire pits – which were a great addition with the temps getting down to 40 degrees at night.

Race Swag

James did a drawing the week of the race to give away a bunch of prizes, including $1,500 in cash! The main winner got $700 in cash. Next year, they are giving away a total of $2,000 in cash!

Plus, every 100 miler got a really nice Perry Ellis puffer jacket with the Mamba 100 logo on it – price tag read $150. They also had a great race t-shirt and some other knick knacks. But, one of my favorite things in my race packet was a signed thank you note from James, the race director, thanking each of us for running the race. If this sounds amazing, it is because it is! You don’t get this at races and it was just one more thing that showed the incredible care that James took for the entire event and all runners, volunteers, and even the support crews for the runners.

The buckle was a beautiful design and came on a race ribbon, which is great for me since I probably won’t put it on a belt but definitely will hang it on display!

a person wearing a watch and a belt

Mamba 100 Mile Belt Buckle

Oh, and James also contracted with an exceptional race photographer, Jenny El Tee, to take the race photos and to make sure that they were available to all runners – for free!

The Finish

Since I had 7 laps, I had been through the start/finish area multiple times but coming in on my final lap was, of course, really special! Most of the 100 milers had support crew in canopy tents along the last few hundred feet so there were yells and shouts of encouragement and cheering as I ran in my final few feet. After crossing, James was there – again, 26 hours after the start – to put my buckle around my neck and give me a hug. And, he looked as excited for me as I was for myself! 🙂


I cannot say enough good things about the Mamba 100 mile trail race and most of it is due to the race director, James. I am officially spoiled now at the 100 mile distance and really don’t want to do another one except for doing it here.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.