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by Caley Fretz
December 31, 2019
Photography by Salsa Cycles
The Land Run 100, one of the United States’ largest gravel events, will change its name to Mid South for 2020 in an effort to acknowledge the connection between its former name and a history of genocide and removal of Native American people from the region.
The Land Run of 1889 followed the opening of 2 million acres of “unassigned lands” to settlement. The gravel event runs through much of this land, located in Oklahoma.
“We are working on learning about this history of genocide and the removal of Natives from this land we call home, and will be for a long time, but we know enough now to know that naming our race “Land Run” was a mistake,” Land Run organizers wrote on their new website. “We are by no means experts on our nation’s history and we are overwhelmed by what we have learned so far.”
Event organizer Bobby Wintle provided more context for the decision on The Radavist:
“Land Run 100 has become so much more than a one day gravel bike race on some dirt roads in the middle of the country. Seven years and two months ago in October of 2012 a handful of us from District Bicycles in Stillwater, OK put together a 100 mile route and invited our friends to come ride. It seemed as if no one had been riding these roads. It felt like we had stumbled onto a secret and we wanted to share this red dirt with anyone willing to come. The first year we had 121 riders from 9 states and Canada. We were pumped. What happened over the next few years felt nearly impossible. This event has grown into a 3-4 day festival with the addition of live music, the 50k run, 50 mile ride, and the Double alongside the original 100 mile race. All of us have built relationships around this dirt road riding that will last a lifetime or longer. In all reality I wanted this event to bring people together and to push them past the place in their mind they thought was the end of their abilities. Now, in 2020 close to 3000 people are coming to experience these wild roads on foot and by bike together. I think about this event every single day. I want every person that comes here to feel a positive energy that is hard to describe. I want zero barriers to exist for a person to want to be a part of this experience. As we’ve grown a barrier has come to our attention and the time to remove it is now.”
Riders who secured entries for the Land Run will have those entries transfer automatically to Mid South. The event remains unchanged, except for its name.
If you’d like to find out more about the history of the 1889 Land Run, Mid South organizers collected a helpful list of stories and podcasts on its old website.