We fell in love with the XTC line of Giant mountain bikes a long time ago - the good folks from Giant have been tweaking the XTC line-up for years and it just keeps getting better.
With 29ers really taking off in the last few years the XTC added some bigger hoops to the line up and there are now a few large diameter models to choose from including the XTC 29er 2 pictured here. It's essentially an entry level 29er racing bike, with some Alivio bits (and Deore rear derailleur) to keep the cost down. It has a 100mm travel Marzocchi fork and Avid Elixir 1's to stop you.
Frankly, it's just a good, solid 29er that can be ridden or raced without compromise and can be had for a very reasonable $1410. The local trails are drying up fast, so get ready now!