Life Time launches $ 250,000 gravel and ATV Grand Prix series

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Forty runners. Six off-road events. $ 250,000 up for grabs.

Life Time, owner of events like Unbound Gravel and the Leadville Race Series, just announced the Life Time Grand Prix, an elite-level series made up of six of the company’s flagship off-road events. Three are gravel races, three are cross-country ATV races, and there is $ 250,000 in in-game prizes.

Kimo Seymour, President of Life Time Media and Events, said VeloNews that the series is intended to give elite riders the opportunity to further their careers in the changing landscape of professional cycling in the United States.

“After many years of declining participation, we are experiencing a wave of growth, both in the size of amateur and professional grounds, particularly in our gravel and mountain biking events,” said Seymour. “We want to develop this to a point where non-endemic sponsors want to get involved, and that’s when you’ll know cycling is catching on in North America. This is the only way to get to a point where people can make a living doing it.

For its first year, the Grand Prix will be open to 20 women and 20 men.

The series consists of six Life Time events:

  • April 7-10: 70-mile ATV Marathon at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA
  • June 4: 200 miles of unbound gravel at Emporia, Kansas
  • July 9: 70 Mile Crusher in the Tushar in Beaver, Utah
  • August 13: Leadville Trail 100 MTB in Leadville, Colorado
  • September 17: 40 miles Chequamegon ATV in Cable, Wisconsin
  • October 22: 100 miles Big Sugar Gravel in Bentonville, Arkansas

A $ 250,000 scholarship will be distributed between the top ten men and women in a points-based system. At the end of the Life Time Grand Prix, the riders’ best five results out of the six possible events will be tallied, giving competitors the choice of skipping one event or running all six and taking points for their best performances. The riders with the most points at the end of the series will be the winners.

Big Sugar Gravel will be the last event of the Grand Prix (Photo: Andy Chasteen)

Seymour said the decision to include both gravel and ATV events was meant not only to highlight races in Life Time’s off-road portfolio, but also because that’s what athletes and l cycling industry have said they want to.

“While we were talking about this, we asked a lot of people for their opinions and advice,” Seymour said. “We spoke to people in the industry, including athletes, sponsors and the media, and we got a lot of feedback from people. A lot of people have said, “How cool would it be to include different types of events?” It’s a different skill to go 40 miles in Chequamegon than it is to go 200 miles in Unbound and do well. If we did three ultra gravel races, we could probably pick the winners. It will create a bit of mystique. Someone who really kicks ass in Unbound can have a hard time in Leadville. We wanted to level the playing field a bit for the pros.

Seymour said the decision to limit him to 40 runners was driven by Life Time’s commitment to provide opportunities for all runners.

“Four of those six events have lotteries,” Seymour said. “We couldn’t just create hundreds of niches for the pros. It would not be fair to the thousands of people who care about participating in lotteries. We want to be fair to everyday athletes.

Grand Prix entrants will be selected based on a series of criteria, including their racing resume, their interest in the Life Time Grand Prix and how the rider is helping to develop cycling in the United States. Seymour said the most important qualifier is how the rider represents the sport as a whole.

“We’re going to be looking for people who are very good ambassadors for the sport right now,” he said. “We want people who are going to be great ambassadors for the show, Life Time and these events.”

Events included in the Life Time Grand Prix may rotate annually. Individual events offering prize awards will continue to offer their prize awards in addition to the Life Time Grand Prix award.

While the sizable Grand Prix purse represents a path to professionalizing bicycle racing in the United States, Seymour hopes the racing series will also do more for the athletes than just putting money in their pockets. As we have seen with the riders who have won Unbound Gravel, the opportunities that follow a victory at any of the Life Time events multiply over time as the model of the cycling industry evolves to include more private sponsored athletes.

“Through the Life Time Grand Prix, we are delighted to offer professional cyclists the opportunity to realize their potential at the national level and cycling fans to be able to engage with these athletes,” said Seymour.

Interested runners can apply on lifegrandprix.com until December 6. Accepted runners will be notified before December 10.


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Wiley C. Thompson