Onweller, Finsterwald Take First at Big Sugar Gravel; Smith, Swenson Win Inaugural Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda
October 22, 2022
Bentonville, Ark., (Saturday, October 22, 2022) /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Life Time Big Sugar Gravel presented by Mazda took place on the hinterland roads of Northwest Arkansas and Southern Missouri today, with a field of more than 1,500 riders ranging in age from 14 to 78, representing 44 states and eight countries. The event offers two signature distances: the marquee Big Sugar, a 104-mile course of challenging roads through the Ozarks with approximately 7,000 feet of elevation gain and 52-mile Lil Sugar, which serves up a similarly challenging and equally picturesque ride through remote highs and hollows.
Big Sugar was the final event in the six-race Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda. Haley Smith and Keegan Swenson won the overall series in its inaugural year, each taking home $25,000, with the other top nine men and women finishers awarded portions of the $250,000 prize purse from Life Time.
“We are thrilled by the success of this weekend’s events, which were the culmination of a huge undertaking by our team, brand partners, athletes and the city of Bentonville,” said Kimo Seymour, President of Events and Media at Life Time. “Big Sugar Gravel was the perfect end cap to a successful season and finale of the inaugural Life Time Grand Prix.”
Women’s Big Sugar Results
- Paige Onweller, 33, of Grand Rapids, Mich. with a time of 5:33:05
- Emily Newsom, 39, of Fort Worth, Texas with a time of 5:39:44
- Alexis Skarda, 33, of Grand Junction, Colo. with a time of 5:45:43
Men’s Big Sugar Results
- Russell Finsterwald, 31, of Colorado Springs, Colo. with a time of 4:57:59
- Keegan Swenson, 28, of Heber City, Utah with a time of 4:58:24
- Adam Roberge, 25, of Prevost, CAN with a time of 4:58:30
Non-Binary Big Sugar Results
- Bonnie Branson, 46, of Edmond, OK with a time of 7:46:49
- Lily Friend, 35, of Austin, Texas with a time of 7:59:09
- Kat Steele, 52, of Austin, Texas with a time of 8:57:23
Women’s Lil Sugar Results
- Betsy Welch, 41, of Boulder, Colo. with a time of 3:02:58
- Morgan Chaffin, 39, of Elkhorn, Neb. with a time of 3:04:36
- Meredith Miller, 49, of Boulder, Colo. with a time of 3:13:21
Men’s Lil Sugar Results
- Will Stoffel, 40, of Bentonville, Ark. with a time of 2:46:45
- Joel LaFrance, 42, of Minneapolis, Minn. with a time of 2:49:17
- Will Mertins, 17, of Fayetteville, Ark. with a time of 2:49:30
Non-Binary Lil Sugar Results
- Abi Robins, 33, of Austin, Texas with a time of 5:15:35
2022 Life Time Grand Prix Final Results
In the women’s field, the late Moriah Wilson kicked off the season with a win at Sea Otter. Heading into Unbound Gravel, Sofia Gomez Villafane inherited the lead, but Haley Smith pulled ahead in the rankings after Leadville Trail 100 MTB while Sarah Sturm stayed consistent throughout the season. With the top three separated by just a few points, the overall was set to be decided at Big Sugar. With the best of five races being scored for the overall, Haley Smith secured the overall victory with a 13th place finish at Big Sugar.
“It’s always cool to win when it’s the first time,” Smith said. “It’s been a while since I won anything. I just raced my bike as hard as I could and I enjoyed it; it’s sweet when it works out to yield a result.”
She continued: “You can’t think about the leaderboard or where you’re standing, you just have to think, ‘what can I do right now, what can my legs do, what can my brain do’. Every mile that you continue to perform on that, that you continue to deliver what you’re capable of, you build confidence. It’s kind of like an ongoing process.”
In the men’s field, nobody was as dominant as overall victor Keegan Swenson, who won Sea Otter, Crusher in the Tushar, and Leadville Trail MTB. He mathematically secured his victory at Chequamegon, using Big Sugar as a victory lap. At Big Sugar, Finsterwald crossed the line solo, 25-seconds ahead of his friend and training partner Swenson.
“It was an awesome time this year,” Swenson said. “I was stoked to do something different and it was cool to have the best racers in North America all together at these six rounds for a good mix of mountain biking, gravel, and just different terrain. Cool to wrap it up here in Arkansas with Big Sugar.”
Women’s Top 10 Finishers
- Haley Smith, 29, of Uxbridge, Ontario with 138 points
- Sofia Gomez Villafane, 28, of Heber City, Utah with 134 points
- Sarah Sturm, 33, of Durango, Colo. with 134 points
- Rose Grant, 40, of Columbia Falls, Mont. with 131 points
- Emily Newsom, 39, of Fort Worth, Texas with 122 points
- Alexis Skarda, 33, of Grand Junction, Colo. with 122 points
- Hannah Otto, 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah with 120 points
- Evelyn Dong, 37, of Park City, Utah with 112 points
- Paige Onweller, 33, of Grand Rapids, Mich. with 108 points
- Melisa Rollins, 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah with 107 points
Men’s Top 10 Finishers
- Keegan Swenson, 28, of Heber City, Utah with 149 points
- Alexey Vermeulen, 28, of Boulder, Colo. with 136 points
- Russell Finsterwald, 31, of Colorado Springs, Colo. with 131 points
- Cole Paton, 25, of Cashmere, Wash. with 129 points
- Peter Stetina, 35, of Santa Rosa, Calif. with 128 points
- Andrew L’Esperance, 31, of Halifax, N.S with 111 points
- Rob Britton, 38, of Victoria, British Columbia with 109 points
- Adam Roberge, 25, of Prevost, Quebec with 109 points
- Alex Howes, 34, of Nederland, Colo. with 108 points
- Lance Haidet, 25, of San Luis Obispo, Calif. with 103 points
Throughout the race series, athletes competed a total of over 575 miles and more than 47,000 feet of elevation gain, traversing dynamic and cross-discipline courses at the 2022 Sea Otter Classic Fuego XC, Garmin UNBOUND Gravel, Crusher in the Tushar, Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Chequamegon MTB Festival and Big Sugar Gravel.
The final event on Life Time’s 2022 off-road calendar is the Austin Rattler MTB, a Leadville Trail 100 MTB qualifier, on Nov. 5.
Life Time will release information about the 2023 Life Time Grand Prix race series in the coming weeks. For more information, visit BigSugarGravel.com or LifeTime.life.
The Big Sugar Gravel is among more than 30 premier athletic events owned and produced by Life Time, including the Miami Marathon, the Leadville Race Series and UNBOUND Gravel.
About Life Time®, Inc.
Life Time (NYSE: LTH) empowers people to live healthy, happy lives through its portfolio of nearly 160 athletic country clubs across the United States and Canada. The company’s healthy way of life communities and ecosystem address all aspects of healthy living, healthy aging, and healthy entertainment for people 90 days to 90+ years old. Supported by a team of more than 30,000 dedicated professionals, Life Time is committed to providing the best programs and experiences through its clubs, iconic athletic events, and comprehensive digital platform.
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