I race road bikes; don't know a whole lot about MTB yet, but for the winter while there are no Road races I'm contemplating buying a $800ish bike and doing some XC races.
My lbs has two Konas that seemed about right. One Caldera for $799 and a Kula for $999. Didn't know what the diff was..?
Also, for the money what other bikes come to mind that I should check out..?