Moriah Wilson, Adam Roberge, Rach McBride Win the Inaugural Life Time Big Sugar Gravel Event
October 23, 2021
Wilson finishes a little over a minute in front of Newsom, Roberge finishes sub-5 hours in the men’s division and McBride takes home gold in the non-binary division
Bentonville, Ark., (Saturday, October 23, 2021) /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – The inaugural Life Time Big Sugar Gravel race took place amidst peak fall foliage in Northwest Arkansas this Saturday with a field of more than 1,100 riders representing 46 states and 5 countries. The event joins Life Time’s portfolio of off-road cycling races which has seen growth in 2021, following the successful launch of The Rad Dirt Fest in Trinidad, Colo. earlier this month and Sea Otter Classic, Garmin UNBOUND Gravel, the Leadville Race Series and Chequamegon MTB Festival to-boot.
Coinciding with Outerbike Bentonville, the Big Sugar weekend hosted two signature distances: the marquee Big Sugar, a 103-mile course of challenging roads through the Ozarks with approximately 8,000 feet of elevation gain; and the Lil Sugar, which complements the larger distance with a 50-mile course serving up a similarly challenging, but shorter distance.
Bentonville locals Gabbi Adams, 2017 Garmin UNBOUND Gravel XL single speed champion, and Nat Ross, Mountain Bike Hall of Famer and 24 Hour World Champion, served as Race Directors for the event, which took riders through the remote, quiet, and rural gravel roads surrounding Bentonville, offering a glimpse into the hinterlands of Southern Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. The roads dip, dive and climb through different hollows and hills, keeping riders on their A-game the entire backcountry ride.
For the 103-mile Big Sugar distance in the women’s division, Moriah Wilson, 25, from Mill Valley, Calif. placed first with a finish time of 5:30:57. Emily Newsom, 38, of Fort Worth, TX, secured second place with a finish time of 5:32:10. Maddy Ward, 27, from San Diego, Calif. placed third with a completion time of 5:49:52.
“I don’t know if I had a strategy going in, just trying to hold on during the fast sections at the beginning,” said Wilson. “I was definitely a little off the back coming into the first section of gravel and worked my way up in the women’s lead group, then started to pick up the pace a bit and finished strong. The first half was really fast, pretty loose, but it was really fun and a good mixture of different terrain.”
For the 103-mile Big Sugar distance men’s division, Adam Roberge, 24, from Prevost, CAN placed first with a finish time of 4:59:10. Dennis Van Winden, 33, from Berkel En Rodenrijs, NLD secured second place with a finish time of 5:04:24. John Keller, 24, from Boulder, Colo. placed third with a completion time of 5:06:07.
“The first part of the course was really difficult and technical,” said Roberge. “People were having trouble, or people were dropping because they were too tired and the group started getting smaller and smaller and it turned into a gravel race. I put the hammer down on a climb and after that I knew I was still feeling pretty good.” When asked if he had fun, Roberge laughed and said, “It’s a weird kind of fun but I did.”
For the 103-mile Big Sugar distance non-binary division, Rach McBride, 43, from Vancouver, B.C. placed first with a finish time of 6:13:22, a 26th overall finish. Abi Robins, 32, of Austin, TX, placed second with a time of 10:18:13.
“The course was unrelenting with technical descents, but my tip is to just get out and do it sometimes, regardless of having the ‘right’ equipment because gravel is a really welcoming community and you’ll find support,” said McBride. In a pre-race Instagram post, they shared, “[Big Sugar Gravel] is the first time I’ll be racing in a non-binary category, a category that makes me and my identity feel seen, validated, and worthy as a non-binary athlete.”
For the 50-mile Lil Sugar Race distance in the women’s division, Lauren Stephens, 34, of Dallas, TX placed first with a finish time of 2:55:08. Betsy Welch, 40, from Boulder, Colo. secured second place with a finish time of 3:01:20. Amy Borkowski, 42, from Louisburg, Kan. placed third with a completion time of 3:04:44.
For the 50-mile Lil Sugar Race distance men’s division, Andrew Dahlheim, 33, of Greenville, SC placed first with a finish time of 2:55:07. Molly Cameron, 45, from Portland, Ore. secured second place with a finish time of 2:55:10. Zach Aldrich, 28, from Rogers, Ark. placed third with a completion time of 2:55:24.
Symbolic of gravel racing’s fast-growing popularity and Bentonville’s proven hospitality toward the cycling community, registration for this event sold out in 2019 in under five minutes, a record-time for the more than 30 premier athletic events within the Life Time portfolio.
Additionally, the Life Time Foundation, Life Time’s nonprofit arm of the organization, recently committed $80,000 to neighboring Fayetteville Public Schools to assist in the removal of artificial ingredients and accelerate scratch cooking processes. As of Fall 2021, the Life Time Foundation partners with 35 public school districts to impact more than 1.7 million children in 3,634 schools across the country. The Foundation collaborates with school food leaders to help them serve wholesome, nourishing, minimally processed food to schools and partners with community organizations nationwide to get kids moving.
The final event on the Life Time off-road 2021 calendar is the Leadville Race Series’ Austin Rattler MTB race on Nov. 6. To view the full Life Time Athletic Events schedule heading into 2022, please visit: https://my.lifetime.life/athletic-events.html
The Big Sugar Gravel is among more than 30 premier athletic events owned and produced by Life Time, including the New York City Triathlon, the Chicago Triathlon, the Miami Marathon, the Leadville Race Series and UNBOUND Gravel.
About Life Time®, Inc.
Over nearly 30 years, Life Time has reshaped the way consumers approach their health through omnichannel, healthy way of life communities that address all aspects of healthy living, healthy aging and healthy entertainment. More than 30,000 Life Time professionals are dedicated to providing the best programs and experiences at more than 150 Life Time athletic resort destinations in the United States and Canada, and via a complementary, comprehensive digital platform and portfolio of iconic athletic events – all with the objective of inspiring healthier, happier lives. For more information, visit www.lifetime.life.
# # #