Biggest Gravel Event Around, Dirty Kanza, Rebranded as ‘Unbound’

Dirty Kanza, The Dirty, DK, it went by a few names, but it was, or is, the biggest gravel racing event in the land. Founded in 2006, the race bounds over short, flowing hills in Kansas (yes, they exist) and attracts riders from around the world. It’s 200 miles of brutality, with riders dealing with pain, flats, mud, heat, other riders, existential angst, pretty much everything.

This summer, race founder Jim Cummins was ousted after making insensitive comments on his Facebook page about a police shooting. The company that owns the race, Life Time, bought it last year. After Cummins was dismissed, a clamor arose among riders and activists that the name Dirty Kanza ought to be changed. Kanza is a term that can refer to the Kaw Nation, indigenous to Kansas and Oklahoma. Dirty Kanza struck some as unnecessarily offensive to Indigenous people from the area, so Life Time decided to end the name, referring to the race as DK until they chose a new one.

Unbound Gravel is the new name.

Race organizers consulted with the Kaw Nation when they sought out a new brand.

All parties satisfied, Unbound is planned for June 5, COVID-depending, of course.

“[Unbound] represents the free-range cattle, wild mustangs and native bison in the prairie of the Flint Hills (Kansas), who move freely and live wild,” said Michelle Duffy, director of off-road events marketing for Life Time. “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.”

Top photo: Wikipedia

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