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Back in July, the popular Midwest gravel race known at the time as the Dirty Kanza announced that it was considering a name change. The race name had been deemed offensive by certain groups and the organization started using the initials “DK” when writing about themselves.
Now, Life Time Fitness, the owner of the race, has an all new name: Unbound Gravel. Garmin remains as the title sponsor.
“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.”
Life Time says that the rebranding meets the event’s future vision and that they met with some of the Tribal Council of the Kaw Nation in Oklahoma to discuss the renaming and their vision.
“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.”
The event says that is is also doing its best to enhance diversity and access to the sport and have “pledged to impact change across the industry.” The Life Time Foundation announced a multi-year partnership with Emporia Public Schools and has committed $95,000 in funding for a School Food Program that they say will help more than 4,300 students across nine schools.
As for now, Unbound is scheduled for June 5. The 2021 All Things Gravel Expo will be on June 3 to kick the race off. Learn more at the Unbound website.
Matt is the managing editor at Singletracks and lives in the Front Range of Colorado. He served in the Marines and has a journalism degree from MSU-Denver. Want to talk MTB news? Send him a message: email@example.com