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After extensive planning in 2019 and a hiatus from events in 2020, Life Time recently hosted the Big Sugar Gravel Race in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Community and inclusion were recurring themes throughout the weekend in the very warm atmosphere of the “MTB Capital of the World”. The city with a big heart and even greater ambition has embraced all that Big Sugar has brought to the table.
“We love having all kinds of riders here,” said Gary Vernon, Walton Foundation program director, “and we want everyone to come. The gravel scene here is just as good as the mountain biking scene. .
The Bentonville area has over 100 miles (161 km) of mountain biking trails, with more and more each day, and over 800 miles (1,288 km) of gravel roads.
“We are fortunate to showcase our community as a gravel destination,” said Kalene Griffith, President and CEO of Visit Bentonville. It was an event that everyone enjoyed.
Barriers were lifted with a Major Taylor KC partnership, opening places early for women to register, opening places for local community groups and introducing a shorter race, Lil Sugar.
More than 600 runners participated in the race. There were a lot of locals, others from the United States and even from as far away as Alaska and Spain.
The 103 mile (166 km) course offered scenic views and a unique variety of challenges for everyone from the everyday athlete to the growing professional field.
The race started in downtown Bentonville. The runners then traveled north to the gardens of southern Missouri. There were technical sections, canopy covered roads, water crossings, smooth roads, hard climbs and gravel to shred the tires.
Along the way, the weather was surprisingly dynamic: a 15-degree drop in temperature, wind, rain and even hail. The runners continued to grind.
The first checkpoint was Pineville, Missouri (mile 37/60 km) and the second at Whistling Springs Brewery (mile 73/117 km). These stops provided all the snacks: water, untapped maple syrup, waffles, maple drink mix, pickles, bananas, chips, cookies and even photo ops with a pig!
After the brewery it was the home stretch to the finish line at Compton Gardens.
Rach McBride rose to the challenge and crossed the line with a time of 6:44:57 to win the non-binary category. Moriah Wilson was the first woman to cross the line at 5:30:57. Adam Roberge completed the course with a time of 4:59:10 to win the men’s category.
Graduates were greeted by an energetic crowd and received a commemorative jar of syrup and a lollipop.
An after-party was held at Bike Rack Brewing where everyone celebrated their victories, shared their stories of the day, and continued community building and fun.
Life Time provided a smooth and memorable experience for everyone at Big Sugar. This event will certainly grow with the great city of Bentonville and be a perfect demonstration of #GoodGravelVibez for years to come.