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Life Time renames iconic DK200 race as Unbound Gravel – One of the biggest names in gravel racing gets a new name for 2021. It started with a COVID-postponement, before soon after moving to discussions of the offensiveness, or at the very least insensitivity of the event’s name to the native Kaw Nation. What at first seemed settled with Kaw Nation Tribal Council approval, further devolved at the same time that racial violence & systemic inequities boiled over across the US, bringing out both the best and worst in various people. After the dust settled, the DK race founder was ousted, the 2020 event was ultimately cancelled for health concerns, and the Kaw Nation decided it was best to leave the Dirty Kanza name in the past.

So that’s how we come to Life Time announcing their new name for the long-popular Emporia, KS gravel race. As Unbound Gravel, they hope to carry forward all the best of the 15-year history of the race that brings gravellers together from around the globe to face the dirt, gravel, mud & winds that dominate the iconic Kansas event.

Our team agreed that we wanted a name, logo and colors that embody the Flint Hills of Kansas. This region, and the hilly, sharp gravel roads that accompany it, are what help make this event what it has become – known widely today as the World’s Premier Gravel Event. We know the life impact this event has on people and we wanted a strong brand that participants felt proud of, that we could tell stories around, and that tied literally and figuratively to the area,” said Michelle Duffy, Director of Off-Road Events Marketing at Life Time. “The word UNBOUND most literally means to be free. It represents the free-range cattle, wild mustangs and native bison in the prairie of the Flint Hills, who move freely and live wild. It’s synonymous with our participants who experience a sense of freedom on the gravel roads outside of Emporia, in those moments “unbound” from anything else. Just the rider and the tire-shredding, sun-baking, breathtaking Flint Hills gravel.

The new name was the work of a coalition of Life Time staff, Emporia business & tourism leaders, members of the cycling media & general cycling community, and a past race winner – before presenting it once more to the Kaw Nation Tribal Council.

This rebrand is the end of a chapter for us as the DK, but we’ll continue to embrace the history of the land on which we ride. We hope that each time riders touch the gravel roads in the Flint Hills, they take a moment to remember what has been,” said Kristi Mohn, Unbound Gravel Marketing Manager. “UNBOUND Gravel provides an opportunity to reimagine what an event can look like, and this rebrand is only step one in the process. So much is yet to come for the gravel community.”

In keeping with the establishment of its DEI Coalition, Life Time is committed to providing access and education to all individuals, while initiating industry shifts around inclusiveness at events. The organization has pledged to impact change across the industry as a whole, using their 30+ events as a platform. The team is taking deliberate steps to enact change for riders and runners across BIPOC, LGBTQ+, gender-focused, economically disenfranchised and para groups, including lowering the barrier of entry to the sport, providing access to start lines, gaining a clear understanding of who we are, so that we can identify and implement the work that must be done and evoking change to benefit the entire Life Time family of athletes, volunteers, partners, team members and the broader endurance sport community.

Furthering the Company’s commitment to the community, the event rebrand comes on the heels of the Life Time Foundation announcing a multi-year partnership with Emporia Public Schools, through which it has committed $95,000 in funding for a School Food Program that will impact more than 4,300 students across nine schools.

why do people want dirty kanza gravel race to change its name

Unbound Gravel returns June 5, 2021. Those registered for the 2020 Dirty Kanza will be able to defer their existing registration for the 2021 Unbound Gravel race starting November 16. Find out more at: UnboundGravel.com

Industry News

  • Leo Kokkonen takes over at Pole Bicycles – Long the face of Pole as the Finnish mountain bike maker’s founder, Leo Kokkonen has taken over the role of running the company now too in a move to further optimize how they work. After three years under another CEO, Pole is moving the focus back to the core idea as a rider & owner-managed bike maker. Leo & Pole promise to be making huge progress for those many happy riders on their bikes AND on the handful that have had problems and deserved better service. Find out more here, and we look forward to hearing more from the Pole crew.

Gear, Deals & Contest

  • Last Chance to Save 20% on a ti Lynskey, plus free upgrades – A special Lynskey deal ends this weekend, so act fast. Save 20% off a new US-made titanium road, gravel, or mountain bike or frame, and get free shipping too. Use code: FALL20 and place your order this weekend, and they will include their Industrial Mill Finish ($130) and Titanium Head Badge option ($100) for free, in addition to the special 20% off coupon. To take advantage, just select the Matte Satin (Standard) finish & Brass (Standard) Head Badge so you don’t get charged extra. Then add a note in the special instructions stating: “Free Mill Finish + Titanium Head Badge with purchase (silver, purple, bronze, sky blue, or navy blue). LynskeyPerformance.com

  • Save 25% off Terrano cycling communication – Limited just through tomorrow Oct 31, Save 25% off Terrano’s open ear system bicycling headset with code: FALL2020.Fall is a great time & reason to ride. So explore your local roads & trails, and enhance your riding experience with a clear and safe way to communicate. TerranoSystems.com

  • Save 20% off winter Rouvy training this Halloween – Trick-or-Treat with Rouvy and save on an off-season of fitness. Halloween has arrived online at Rouvy, and they have a bunch of spooky virtual races to join in on. You can also join now with code: HALLOWEEN20 to know 20% off your new training subscription plan. Race.Rouvy.com

  • Win Ribble & Restrap’s Ultimate Audaxing Bikepacking Bike – UK bag maker Restrap and consumer direct bike maker Ribble have come together to create the ultimate all-road endurance bikepacking setup. Starting with a £1900 carbon Ribble Endurance SL Disc aero road bike built-up with Shimano 105, Restrap adds on a £350 suite of lightweight Adventure Race Range packs. All you need to do is sign up for Restrap’s newsletter to enter before Nov 19: Restrap.com
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3 years ago

Well, good to hear about the DK name. After firing Cummings, apparently the rest of the leadership realized use of native names is offensive. Glad to see changes. And I hope that iconic race lives on for many years.

Larry Falk
Larry Falk
3 years ago

I am glad the original name was changed, but the new name lacks any geological or geographical reference, so the new name ‘unbound’ is about as bland a name anyone could devise. Something like “Fierce Flint Monster Mash” with a cartoon flint hill monster eating your tire would have been way more fun.

3 years ago
Reply to  Larry Falk

Agreed. Even something as simple as “Flint Hills 200” would at least tell you something about the what and where.

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