Unbound Gravel 2022

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Ivar Slik wins Unbound Gravel 200 in sprint ahead of Swenson and Boswell

Dutchman Ivar Slik won the men’s 200-mile race of the 2022 Garmin Unbound Gravel presented by Craft with five riders contesting the sprint in downtown Emporia, Kansas. In a photo finish for the final two spots on the podium, Keegan Swenson took second with defending champion Ian Boswell taking third.

Laurens ten Dam, who was the runner-up last year to Boswell in a two-up sprint, rolled across the line in fourth, seven seconds behind this year's winner. Alexey Vermeulen was fifth.

It was the third race of a US gravel swing for Slik, who finished second at Gravel Locos earlier in the year. He clocked 9:22:04 to win Unbound Gravel 200.

With second place, Swenson continued in the lead of the Life Time Grand Prix series, adding top points with his victory in the opening round at Sea Otter Classic in the Fuego XC 80K.

Sofia Gomez Villafane takes solo victory at Unbound Gravel 200

Sofia Gomez Villafane rode solo for over 80 miles and won the women’s 200-mile race of Garmin Unbound Gravel presented by Craft. Defending champion Lauren De Crescenzo finished second, 9:07 back, and Emily Newsom was third, another 12 minutes.

Gomez completed her ride in 10:27:41 on a new, rain-soaked southern route across the Flint Hills of Kansas, which proved to be an hour and 33 minutes quicker than the 2021 winning time posted by De Crescenzo. 

The victory moved Gomez into the women’s lead in the Life Time Grand Prix series, where she placed second in the opening round at Sea Otter Classic in the Fuego XC 80K. 

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.

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