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The recently-launched Life Time Little Sugar MTB presented by Mazda now boasts the biggest prize purse for a single day cycling event in the United States.
Life Time and Bentonville, Arkansas-based OZ Brands have combined efforts to create a $65,000 purse, a notable increase from the previously announced $25,000 prize.
The $65,000 will be split evenly between the top five men and women competing in the 100k race. First place finishers will receive $12,000, with the breakdown for second through fifth at $8,500, $6,000, $4,000, and $2,000.
“We are incredibly proud to have the privilege of working with OZ Brands to provide this unique opportunity for athletes,” said Kimo Seymour, the president of Life Time events and media. “Not only will Little Sugar MTB be technically challenging for amateur and recreational riders, but the pros will be super focused on the end of season opportunity to earn a significant pay day.”
Little Sugar MTB debuts in the northwest Arkansas cycling mecca of Bentonville on October 15. The cross-country mountain bike race will kick off a week of dirt-centric activities that Life Time is calling the Big Sugar Classic Cycling Festival. The festival opens with Little Sugar and concludes after Big Sugar Gravel the weekend of October 21-22.
The sizable purse isn’t the only exciting news to come from the new mountain bike race. The courses — designed in part by Bentonville locals Nat and Aimee Ross — will showcase a newer zone of trails in the region’s ever-expanding singletrack network.
Three course distances will be on offer at Little Sugar — the marquee 100k distance has 6,610’ of elevation gain, the 50k clocks in at 3,461′, and a 20k route climbs 1,125’. All courses will start at the Coler MTB Preserve, an easy two-mile spin from the heart of Bentonville, and end downtown.
While riders who raced the now-defunct Epic Rides Oz Trails Off-road event from 2018-2021 will be familiar with areas like Slaughter Pen and the Back 40, Aimee Ross says that the inclusion of the new Little Sugar trail network sets the new race apart from its predecessor.
“There is significantly more elevation gain and some really fun, ripping descents,” Ross said. “This area captures a little bit more of the hollers and bluff lines, and the contour of all the water features really influenced the trail building. It’s maybe a little more singletracky compared to the Back 40.”
Currently, there are 40 miles of singletrack in the Little Sugar trail network consisting of an outer loop and several other trails that cut through the middle. The network winds around two lakes and creeps under the bluffs of Little Sugar Creek. Advanced features like drops and jumps keep things exciting, and there is an average elevation gain of 150 feet per mile, which is significant for the region.
Nearly all of the trails around Bentonville are open to e-bikes, and Little Sugar MTB will feature e-bike categories in the 50k and 20k distances.
Registration for the event opens Wednesday, March 1 at 6 p.m. CST.