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Unbound Gravel 2022

Latest News from the Race

Unbound Gravel Overview

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Unbound Gravel

Mass start for Unbound Gravel 200 (Image credit: Wil Matthews)

Dates: June 4, 2022 

Distance: 204.6 miles 

Start: Emporia, Kansas, 6:00 CDT

Finish: Emporia, Kansas, 16:00-24:00 CDT

The Garmin Unbound Gravel presented by Craft returns the first Saturday in June with five racing distances, including the signature 200-mile event with a mass-start for men and women in downtown Emporia, Kansas. All the routes take in the rugged roads in the Flint Hills of Kansas, defined with sharp rocks and hilly terrain across the Tallgrass Prairie in the middle of the US. 

The wide open prairie lands and network of dirt paths allow organisers to change the route from year to year, and 2022 is no different. Riders will head in a southbound direction from the start this June, with constant ups and downs that add up to 9,700 feet of elevation gain on the 200-mile route. That route has two checkpoints at Eureka (mile 77.3) and Madison (mile 164.3), where riders can receive outside support, and a pair of neutral ‘water oasis’ stops, Texaco Hill (mile 41) and Hamilton (mile 119).. 

Unbound Gravel 200 is part of the Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda, and is the second stop of the six-race series. The Kansas gravel race is also the longest off-road event of the six races on the inaugural circuit. The series will be contested by an invitation-only field of 30 women and 30 men for an equally-split prize purse of $250,000, paid to the top 10 riders with the most points accumulated from five of the six races. 

Lauren De Crescenzo won the women’s division of Unbound Gravel 200 with a solo effort across the final 55 miles, her overall time 12 hours, 6 minutes, 49 seconds. Amity Rockwell, the 2019 champion, trailed 15 minutes later for second place, and then Emily Newsom was third another eight-plus minutes down.

The men’s division came down to a two-up sprint on the pavement after 10 hours, 17 minutes and 24 seconds, Ian Boswell surging to the line for the victory ahead of Laurens ten Dam. Peter Stetina then sprinted ahead of Ted King to take third, 1:11 down on the leading duo.

In the Unbound Gravel 100, Lauren Stephens finished seventh overall and took the women’s title, while Stephen Hyde won the men’s division.

For 2022, Unbound Gravel 200 will be streamed live and on-demand on FloBikes, part of the FloSports network. 

Unbound Gravel 2022 races

  • Unbound Gravel 200 - Saturday, June 4, 6:00 CDT start
  • Unbound Gravel 100 - Saturday, June 4, 7:00 CDT start
  • Unbound Gravel Juniors - Saturday, June 4, 8:30 CDT start
  • Unbound Gravel 25/50 - Saturday, June 4, 9:00 CDT
  • Unbound Gravel XL (357.2 miles) - Friday, June 3, 15:00 CDT start

Unbound Gravel 200 history

The Unbound Gravel 200 is the signature race across the tire-shredding, sun-baked gravel of the Flint Hills, which Dan Hughes won in 2006 when 34 participants lined up in Emporia. Now there are 4,000 riders in various divisions. 

In what organisers describe as an event for adventure seekers with a “penchant for pain”, the XL category was introduced as a test event in 2018, won by Matt Acker for the men and Rebecca Rusch for the women. The next year the 100 gravel race was officially launched, with inaugural titles going to Ashton Lambie for men and Lauren Stephens for women.

All the gravel races take place through the Flint Hills region of east-central Kansas. Unique aspects to these races include the remote roads used for routes through vast prairie lands, the checkpoints participants must locate to follow the correct course, and a “do not call us” policy for breakdowns and injuries.

Life Time Fitness, the company that owns the event and also the Leadville Race Series, brought sweeping changes to the event for 2021, a year after cancellation for the COVID-19 coronavirus and controversy with former race founder Jim Cummins. The founder was fired for posting insensitive comments to his personal Facebook page regarding the fatal police shooting in Atlanta, Georgia of Rayshard Brooks, an African-American. The June 12, 2020 death of Brooks occurred when repeated killings of African Americans by police had led to anti-racism protests across America and the world. 

Then organisers rebranded the event several months later to eliminate racial insensitivity to the Kaw Nation, called Kanza, the indigenous people in the areas of Oklahoma and Kansas. Life Time included the Kaw Nation Tribal Council in the renaming process of the event to Unbound Gravel, and confirmed Garmin as the continuing title sponsor.