4K riders gear up to take on Garmin UNBOUND Gravel courses around Emporia

FILE - Ian Boswell crosses the finish line first for the 200 mile race in the Garmin UNBOUND...
FILE - Ian Boswell crosses the finish line first for the 200 mile race in the Garmin UNBOUND Gravel event.
Published: May. 21, 2023 at 1:15 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Around 4,000 riders are gearing up to take on the ever-changing courses of Garmin UNBOUND Gravel around the Emporia area.

Life Time, the hosts of Garmin UNBOUND Gravel, announced on Friday, May 19, that about 4,000 riders are set to take to the event’s largest field ever as it continues to reign as the premier gravel cycling event. Among thousands during the June 1-4 event weekend will be the 2022 winners, Ivar Slik and Sofia Gomez Villafane who will attempt to defend their titles.

According to Life Time, the impressive field of pros and amateurs - along with support teams and thousands of spectators - will descend on the Emporia area from around the world.

“UNBOUND Gravel unites riders from all corners of the world, pushes the limits of human endurance and showcases the stunning beauty of the Flint Hills, solidifying its position as the world’s premier gravel race,” says Kristi Mohn, Life Time’s OG UNBOUND Gravel team member and Gravel Cycling Hall of Famer. “We’ve experienced incredible growth in the event since its inception and could not be more proud to set another record year in 2023. We are honored to have such an amazing team, extraordinary volunteers, and, of course, our athletes - all of whom allow us to celebrate gravel in this beautiful and incredibly supportive community of Emporia.”

Annually, officials said the routes for the race slightly change. They said the 200 and 100-mile routes will feature a number of new sections - including D hill at Mile 10 which will be the first hill outside of Emporia. This hill has not been used as part of the course since 2015. Returning terrain also includes the famous Texaco Hill from Mile 40 through Mile 43. The XL and 50-mile courses will also include a number of changes and additions for the 2023 event.

Life Time also said this will be the second event presented by Mazda and a premier race for many pro athletes. For the first time in UNBOUND Gravel history, elite males, elite females and age group athletes will start the race in three separate waves. The change is anticipated to have a positive effect on race dynamics and create a safer competitive experience.

“I think there’s now a chance that we will see an actual women’s race go on,” a Life Time spokesperson said. “Of course, the separations won’t last too long (the fields will be intermixed again within 20 minutes or less, I’d say), but I’m happy with both of these changes. I think they will preserve the spirit of the event.”

The event will also include the All Things Gravel Expo presented by the City of Emporia on June 1 and 2. With almost 300 brands set to exhibit in 2023, the 2-day expo will feature the latest gravel and bike gear from top brands as well as highlight local businesses and vendors to provide riders with a true taste of Emporia.

LeLan Dains, Director at Visit Emporia and previous Race Director of UNBOUND Gravel said, “It’s always amazing to see Emporia come to life each year for UNBOUND Gravel. Emporians take great pride in welcoming visitors and the whole town is once again gearing up to provide a world-class experience for all who make the journey to the gravel-grinding capital of the world!”

For more information about the race, click HERE.