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Life Time Continues Gravel Race Expansion as Cyclists Increasingly Turn from Pavement to Dirt

Bentonville, Ark. to host Life Time’s newest gravel race: Big Sugar

Media Contact: Jordan Titus (952) 229-7179

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Oct. 25, 2019—On the heels of its inaugural year of ownership of the internationally renowned Garmin UNBOUND Gravel, Life Time is quickly solidifying itself as a lead player in gravel events with the launch of the Big Sugar—NWA Gravel. The all-new, ground-up gravel event is set to take place in Bentonville, Ark., on Saturday, October 23, 2021.

Coinciding with Outerbike Bentonville, the Big Sugar was conceptualized and developed by the Life Time Events team, including the original UNBOUND Gravel team. Destined to be yet another iconic gravel event, the Big Sugar weekend will host two signature distances: the marquee Big Sugar, a 107-mile course of challenging roads through the Ozarks with approximately 9,000 feet of elevation gain; and the Little Sugar, which complements the larger distance with a 49.3 mile course serving up a similarly challenging, but shorter distance.

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What is the Big Sugar – NWA Gravel?

Life Time is launching a brand-new event in 2020: Big Sugar – NWA Gravel. The event is comprised of the Big Sugar (107 miles) and Little Sugar (49.3 miles) in Bentonville, Ark. Both courses feature challenging roads through the Ozarks with scenic views throughout. The Big Sugar features approximately 9,000 feet of climbing, while the Little Sugar includes more than 4,000 feet of climbing.

When will the new races debut? When will registration open?

The Big Sugar – NWA Gravel will debut on October 23, 2021.

Why Bentonville for Life Time’s newest gravel event?

In recent years, Bentonville has established itself as a global cycling mecca across all terrain types (road, gravel and mountain biking). Through the growing trend of people getting off of roads and onto dirt, Bentonville has served as a popular destination for riders looking for a challenging, scenic mix of mountain and gravel terrain. Equally important, Bentonville is similar to other communities that play host to events within our portfolio—tight-knit, passionate, hospitable, and family-friendly cycling advocates.

What is the collaboration with Outerbike?

Bentonville plays host to Outerbike each fall and we have a great relationship with the organizers, with whom we share the same passion. We are excited to be announcing Big Sugar’s debut at Outerbike 2019 and look forward to having a continued presence at the gathering for years to come.

What’s the tie to UNBOUND Gravel?

The team behind UNBOUND Gravel (formerly known as DK) is the brain behind The Big Sugar. Ben Sachs, event manager of UNBOUND Gravel continues to lead operations of Big Sugar alongside local cyclist Gabbi Adams and renowned MTB Hall of Famer, Nat Ross. Kristi Mohn, long-time visionary and marketing manager of UNBOUND Gravel, continues to lead the marketing and planning alongside Michelle Duffy, Senior Marketing Manager of UNBOUND Gravel and the Leadville Race Series.

Noteworthy: Big Sugar participants will also be eligible for entry into UNBOUND Gravel. Entries for the following year’s event will be distributed via random lottery to finishers who enter on-site.


Who is responsible for organizing and executing these races?

The group behind these events is comprised of industry experts who are passionate about off-road cycling and producing one-of-a-kind events. They are:

·       Kimo Seymour, President of Life Time Media & Events

·       Michael Melley, Vice President of Event Operations

·       Michelle Duffy, Senior Brand Manager, Off-Road Cycling & Running Events

·       Kristin Mohn, Marketing Manager, UNBOUND Gravel

·       Lelan Dains, Events Manager, UNBOUND Gravel

·       Jim Cummins, Chief Gravel Officer and UNBOUND Gravel Founder

·       Nat Ross, Local Event Director

·       Gabbi Adams, Local Event Director


Will Life Time be adding more gravel events?

We continue to listen to what athletes wish for and aim to be at the forefront of this trend shift. Stick around – you may be surprised.

What is Life Time?

Life Time is the nation’s premier healthy lifestyle brand, which owns and operates more than 145 athletic resorts and spas across the US and in Canada, along with premium co-working and luxury living complexes. Life Time also owns and produces more than 30 iconic athletic events each year including the world-renowned Leadville Race Series, UNBOUND Gravel, New York City Triathlon and Miami Marathon.

Why is Life Time making a move into the gravel space?

We have been watching the trends in the cycling space, and more cyclists are venturing off the roads and onto dirt each year. Through our experience owning and producing the Leadville Race Series, and most recently Dirty Kanza, we know there is magic in these grassroots, off-road events that allow riders to be ingrained in a community that can’t be matched elsewhere. We think this is the future of cycling and don’t just want to be a part of it, we want to be the lead player.

What do these additions say about Life Time?

The popularity of Life Time’s athletic events can be attributed to exceptional production value – but that wouldn’t mean anything if people didn’t want to be there. We are observant and responsive to trends in the cycling community and aim to serve the influx of cyclists who wish for more race options on dirt. But it isn’t just about the event, we’re also looking to add value and help people live healthy, happy lives. Creating and building these communities and races is one way we’re bringing that vision to life.

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