Did you all listen to Payson’s Pod with the female winner?
Very interesting to hear pretty candid break down of some of the race dynamics.
He also mentioned the Howie and spare wheel thing and referenced Leadville. I was going to post in the Leadville thread, but I don’t think I did (sorry if i have/this has all been hashed out), but last year when Sofia gave Finsty her wheel, they were still some 10-20km “apart”. Certainly adds a quirk to the legalities of something like that.
Here is the response from Unbound re: my complaint letter about not rerouting through the early mud hike-a-bike. I do not think they actually answered my concern, and that of many others: walking for 3 miles in the mud is not an epic bike event…its poor planning when it clearly could have been rerouted (like in 2 of the last 5 years) and caused significant bike damage for many. The day would still have been epic and very hard to complete if it had been rerouted. I have moved on, but I can say that this response has lowered my respect for the event staff…it’s very different than it was the first 3 years I did it before Lifetime took over.
"Hello, Thank you for your feedback! UNBOUND Gravel has been put on the map because of iconic years like this one, where the Flint Hills delivered unique challenges to athletes. We’ve had years where the heat exceeded 100 degrees, years with intense headwinds, creek crossings, rough gravel and, similar to 2015, this year brought mud. Finishing a race in the Flint Hills is no easy feat. This event has seen intense conditions year after year; it is what makes this event what it is and why every participant leaves with their own inspired story. Athletes taking on the Flint Hills know that they need to do their homework, come prepared, be aware of the course conditions, and understand what is forthcoming. It’s not intended to be an event that everyone can finish. This is what has turned UNBOUND Gravel into the event it is today. We are beyond inspired by each and every person who steps up to the start line to take on the challenge that is UNBOUND Gravel, especially during extra tough and demanding years like this one. * Treva Worrel
Athlete Services Manager | Athletic Events"
You got a form letter written by a lawyer or PR firm. Let them dig in. If they are right the race numbers will thrive and continue to grow. If not, people will see posted reviews and decide not to do it.
Personally there is nothing epic or exciting that makes me want to do that race. I don’t need to fly to Kansas to do a Spartan race. I’m sure others feel different.
Of course “they” created the challenges and they are saying that they aren’t going to stop doing that. The minor course modifications this year were intentionally added to make it harder (including this mud section and some additional hills). You don’t have to agree with how they want to make the race and nobody is forced to attend. There is a line of people out the door of people looking for this kind of stupid stuff, so more spots for them if others don’t dig these kind of events.
What’s so unbelievable about sticking with “HTFU” when it’s basically the brand identity for the race? They are making it very clear that it’s designed to be really hard and everyone isn’t going to finish. I agree with earlier comments that the talk about a re-route at the rider’s meeting is probably the biggest fuel on this fire, not that the course was so hard. The race has clearly been harder in the past during challenging years.
In your zeal to defend them, you are totally missing my point.
People are pissed because they said they would re-route the course if it got worse…it dumped the night before and they kept it in……
If you want to create a course that has a 3 mile hike-a-bike through mud, have at it….make a course as hard as you want, I don’t give a fook. But keeping that section in after what they said in the pre-race meeting is what is causing people’s angst. For them to not acknowledge that and turn it back on their customers is weak.
Not defending the course decisions way or the other, just wondering what response people expecting at this point. We’re in agreement that Lifetime dug a bit of a hole discussing the re-route the day prior and giving folks the impression the it would be re-routed if it was really muddy. I came out of that meeting with the mindset of expecting a muddy stretch, but they might re-route if it’s too bad. Was surprised they didn’t. Splitting hairs, but I don’t think they said they would re-route if it got worse over night, but said they would check conditions in the AM and make a call. Either way, they made the call and they are standing behind it. If they feel they made right choice (and want to make it clear it’s how they will continue to roll), what would you have Lifetime say publicly at this point? Apologize for giving folks false hope of a re-route in the rider’s meeting? Did that mis-step really affect anyone’s race?
I just went back to your earlier post of the pre-race briefing (Unbound Gravel 2023 - #1039 by Jay_S) and the race director specifically referenced 2015 as something they wanted to avoid and yet here they are saying it’s a feature to keep in. Not that I’m the type of rider that was thinking about doing Unbound anyway, but even if I wanted an event with a challenging mud section, a HTFU event, like some people here apparently do, I would never ride anything for a race put on by these people. They are gaslighting their riders, plain and simple. If I were you, I would respond to call them out for trying to ignore their own words and promises and for pretending like they warned people when they did the exact opposite and made it sound like people did not need to prepare for a long mud section. Anyone paying attention at that pre-race briefing did ‘do their homework’ and try to ‘understand what is forthcoming’. Honestly, tell these people that they are not trustworthy. Let them know that they ruined the race for anyone who thought they could trust what the race organizers tolder them in advance–anyone who prepared based on the race organizers own words.
Being idiots on instagram the day after the race was not a good look. Being idiots in what seems to be a carefully written letter a couple weeks later–especially if this was vetted/written by a lawyer as someone expected. Heck–I’m not a lawyer so this is probably groundless speculation–I halfway wonder if this isn’t opening themselves up for a lawsuit. I also wonder if they won’t delete the pre race briefing video.
I think it was on Bonk Bros where they mentioned the idea of each rider being limited to 2 crew members and handling it by giving out bracelets. This seems like a great solution for keeping some checks and balances in place and probably most important for the pro field where there are some pretty big differences in terms of rider support.
The Carolin Schiff interview was fantastic. So interesting hearing her story. The part about her dropping the ice pack accidentally and Sophia reporting her to the moto and then Carolin going back to get it was amazing. It sounded like that really stoked her fire and all credit to her for battling right back and then taking the win.
I wasn’t there and only personally know 1 person that was there. He DNFed from the mud.
My contention is, if you know you only have 1 section that is going to be a blood bath that can easily be rerouted, do it. If you know the whole course has a chance of being a total mess, plan for an epic day.
It was the worst mud section, but not the only mud section. Anyone who wasn’t aware/prepared for a muddy day had their head in the sand or just made the decision not to prepare. There was always going to be mud on the course and there was a high likelyhood of thunderstorms during the race (which happened). Blaming a 3 mile section of mud for a dnf on a 205 mile race where you know there will be some mud is just silly. If they had a major mechanical to end their day, that’s on them for not dealing with the mud (and/or some bad luck). If they were too tired to finish after walking for 90 minutes, then they weren’t fit enough to finish the race. More people certainly would have finished if they had re-routed. More people would always finish if they made the course easier. They specifically added some new hard sections this year to make the course harder than last year, their goal is not to minimize DNF’s. Again, I totally get that people didn’t like the re-route being dangled at the rider meeting, but everyone had to be prepared for mud with our without that early section.
Based on her social presence, it seems like Sophia has a “do anything to win” mentality and that’s fine to a point, but that’s a bad look if that story is true. Her primary job is to represent her sponsors and help them sell stuff. A big part of that is race results, but it definitely matters how you win (and sometimes more importantly how you lose). All that said, I don’t know her and I never know what to believe when it’s portrayed on social media. As much as I hate the back and forth, I’ll be curious if she responds and what her side of the story is. I suspect the main point of contention would be whether Schiff littered on accident or intentionally threw something away. Intentional littering is a hot button point for me as well. Drives me crazy and I’d be fine with someone reporting anyone on the course for intentional littering.
That was 100% my first thought. Threaten to tattle in the hopes of getting an advantage. I like the fact that she’s super competitive, but she does seem to have a tendency (fair or not due to hyper focus of social media) to come off like a prick.
Losing something is one thing, intentionally throwing stuff away on course and hoping someone will clean up after you is another.
Agree to disagree. Of course it’s racing (for those who treat it as such). It may not be the kind of racing you want to do, but it’s a race. Many off road races require walking. Leadville has already been mentioned several times and folks in the middle of the pack are likely walking more than 90 minutes and the walking is much harder (basically hiking on rugged terrain). Cape epic this year had mud stages that had many walking for extended periods. BWR utah had several hike a bike sections that I had to walk/run. I did the Austin rattler race one year after heavy rains and walked for hours in the mud and ended up quitting with a DNF. There are lots of gravel races that are basically just road races on dirt. Unbound isn’t one of them, but it’s also not a particularly challenging course from a technical perspective.
With folks obviously having strong opinions one way or the other, I wonder how much this has to do with racing background and how people think of “gravel”. If you have a road background and only race road-like gravel races, I could see where walking a bike during a race seems wrong and the unbound course would be seen as challenging. If you have experience doing long distance MTB or more technical gravel races, walking a bike isn’t out of the ordinary and you kind of know that weather/conditions can add significant time/effort on your day and require walking. Nothing wrong with picking races that won’t have you off your bike, but also nothing wrong with races that may require it.