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The 200-mile gravel race across Kansas, known in recent months simply as DK and before that as Dirty Kanza, has settled on a new name: Unbound Gravel.
The name change was promised in June, shortly after race owner Life Time and the race’s founder, Jim Cummins, parted ways over a Facebook post in which Cummins described the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, as “justified.”
Prior to that controversy, the race had been under fire from activists over its name. A petition circulated early this year contending that the name Dirty Kanza equated to “dirty Indian,” as Kanza is one name for the Kaw Nation and its people.
In response to that petition, Cummins met with the Kaw Nation in February, and Kaw representatives released a statement supporting the race and its name. The name remained the same.
With Cummins’s departure, Life Time announced it would rename the race and began working internally on a complete re-brand. In the interim it began referring to the race as the DK.
Life Time released the following statement, announcing the new name and branding:
We have been admittedly quiet over the last few months, working hard behind the scenes. As a refresher, in June 2020 we committed to a name change in order to create an identity in line with who and what this race stands for: a place where everyone is and should feel welcome.
Our summer was spent building a task force full of Emporia businesses and locals, media personnel, professional and passionate cyclists, and many of our partners to create a new name worthy of the magic that the gravel roads in the Flint Hills hold. Renaming something that carries 15 years of history with national and international engagement along with local Kansas pride is not something we took lightly.
On top of the new name, we created a Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Coalition that will move forward with us as a vital piece of this race. Growing the number of underserved and underrepresented people on bikes and trails will go hand in hand with the planning of not only this event, but also our full family of over 30 Life Time events. You all pushed us to use our event as a platform to drive change in the cycling space, and we realized that using our entire portfolio helps create change not just on the bike, but in the endurance industry as a whole.
It’s been an eventful summer and fall out here in Gravel City, USA, but we’ve been given an opportunity to learn, grow, and push forward in a new direction that we’re proud of. We appreciate how patient and gracious you’ve been with us through this process, and we’re stoked to share our new name with you!
Now for the moment you have been waiting for. We’re proud to introduce *drum roll please*
Unbound (verb): “Released from restraints, unconfined, free.”
The Garmin UNBOUND Gravel event is about finding your own personal freedom in the vastness of the Flint Hills. On race day we take to Commercial Street, confined by the barricades that shape the start line.
And then to the sound of a horn, we’re released to traverse the beautiful, unforgiving, hilly prairie where, across those miles, we each learn something about ourselves.
Unbound represents the free-range cattle, wild mustangs and native bison in the prairie of the Flint Hills, who move freely and live wild. 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 riders and the tire-shredding, sun-baking, breathtaking Flint Hills gravel.
It’s about self-discovery. We will come undone, reinvigorated, and undone again each time we’re out on those hills.
The grays, blues, yellows, and greens are representative of the colors within this race and this region. The shades of the gravel, the colors of our vast sky, and the sea of rolling green hills speak to the event, the region, and now our new logo.
This rebrand is the end of a chapter for us as the DK, but it will never take away from the history on the land on which we ride, and the Flint Hills that we call home. We’re grateful for each and every person that played a role in shaping UNBOUND Gravel and helping us stay accountable and supported. We can’t wait for you to ride the UNBOUND Gravel event in the future!