Event preview: 2023 Unbound Gravel

Details about the 2023 Unbound gravel routes, shakeout rides, and more.

Photo: Life time

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2023’s Unbound Gravel will be the largest to date, with 4,000 riders registered across the race’s five distances.

In addition to huge participant numbers, the event in Emporia, Kansas will also bring hundreds of vendors to the All Things Gravel Expo, which runs the Thursday and Friday before race day.

There are many exciting changes to Unbound’s 200-mile race this year — for the first time ever, the elite men’s and women’s fields will start apart from the amateurs. Men take off at 5:50 a.m. and women at 5:52. They will not be allowed to use aero bars. The 200-mile race is also the second event in the Life Time Grand Prix Series.

Defending champions Sofia Gomez Villafañe and Ivar Slik will be back in Emporia to try and make it two for two. So, too, however will defending second place finishers Lauren De Crescenzo and Keegan Swenson.

Related: Unbound makes big changes for 2023

Unbound Gravel 200: Sofia Gomez Villafañe storms to the win
Unbound Gravel 200: Sofia Gomez Villafañe storms to the win (Photo: William Tracy)

The 200-mile race isn’t the only big deal at Unbound, however. There are four other race distances — the 350-mile Unbound XL rolls out of town at 3 p.m. on Friday, while the 100, 50, and 25-mile rides are on Saturday.

Every route is characterized by the Flint Hills’ punchy climbs, tire-shredding flint rock, and quiet rural roads.

And — for those racing and those not: there is plenty to do outside of race day. From mini film festivals to the Life Time Grand Prix athlete card signing, Emporia will be absolutely abuzz all weekend.

Now nearly as anticipated as the race itself, this year’s shakeout rides even have their own schedule (see below).

2023 Unbound Gravel routes

Unbound XL

This one is a doozy — and I know because I did it last year. However, as alarming as 350 miles in one go seems, it’s strangely doable — and delightful. Riding through the firefly-lit night and watching the sun rise over the impossibly green Flint Hills is something I will never forget.

Women lead the charge at the 2021 Unbound XL
Women lead the charge at the 2021 Unbound XL (Photo: Wil Matthews)

XL riders roll out at 3 p.m. and have nearly seven hours of light to get well on their way. The course is broken up with convenience stores, which act as much-needed resupply stops. This year, there is one less store, which means the resupplies are roughly 75 miles apart.

XL riders are on their own unique course until mile 225, where they join the 200-mile course in Eureka and for the duration.

Unbound XL course details:

Distance: 352 miles
Elevation: 13,539′

Convenience Stores:

  • Mile 75 | Cottonwood Falls, KS, Casey’s Convenience Store
  • Mile 151 | El Dorado, KS, Jump Start Gas Station
  • Mile 225 | Eureka, KS, Casey’s Convenience Store
  • Mile 271 | Hamilton, KS, Holmes Sundries Cafe
  • Mile 314 | Madison, KS, Casey’s Convenience Store

Unbound 200

“The Super Bowl of gravel,” the Unbound 200 is the marquee race in Emporia this weekend. This year’s race will see over 200 elite riders taking off before the masses in a never-before-separated start.

As always, the race is semi-self supported, with aid allowed at the official checkpoints. In addition, there are two water oases located in between the checkpoints.

The 200-miler runs as a counter-clockwise loop this year, heading south for the first 80 miles. Riders then head east before pivoting north for the second half of the race.

Both the 200 and 100 routes will feature a number of new sections, including D Hill at mile 10, which will be the first hill outside of Emporia. This hill hasn’t been used as part of the course since 2015. Texaco Hill, however, is back, and could create separation from miles 40-43, as riders creep up the hill and then buckle up for the rowdy descent.

Melisa Rollins celebrates her fifth-place finish at unbound gravel
Melisa Rollins celebrates a strong fifth-place finish in 2022 (Photo: Life Time)

Unbound 200-course details:

Distance: 205.5 miles
Elevation: 9,100′

Water Oasis Locations:

  • Water Oasis One – Mile 42 | Texaco Hill
  • Water Oasis Two – Mile 124 | Hamilton, KS

Note: Only water will be provided at the water oasis. No support crews are allowed. Support crews are allowed only at designated checkpoints of Eureka and Madison. The Holmes Sundries convenience store will be open in Hamilton to purchase snacks in needed.


  • Checkpoint One – Mile 79
    Eureka Junior & Senior High School | 815 N Jefferson St, Eureka, KS 67045
  • Checkpoint Two – Mile 167
    Madison City Park | 224 Main St, Madison, KS 66860
    ARRIVAL CUT-OFF TIME: 11:00 pm

Unbound 100

The 100-mile is becoming a marquee distance in its own right as people realize that 200 miles is … well, 200 miles. Expect very fast racing at the front of this distance. The same rules apply as in the 200: support crews are only allowed at the mid-race checkpoint, and there is one water oasis before that.

Unbound 100 course details:

  • Distance: 103.1 miles
  • Elevation: 4,373′

Water Oasis Locations:

  • Water Oasis – Mile 42 | Texaco Hill

Note: Only water will be provided at the water oasis. No support crews are allowed. Support crews are only allowed at the checkpoint in Madison.


  • Checkpoint One – Mile 64, Madison City Park | 224 Main St, Madison, KS 66860
Ivar Slik shows his computer at Unbound gravel race
Ivar Slik shows his numbers after winning the 2022 Unbound Gravel. (Photo: Brad Kaminski)

Unbound 50 and 25

Not quite ready — or interested in — a 100 or 200-mile day in the saddle? The 50 and 25 mile courses highlight quintessential Flint Hills riding and deliver riders back to Emporia to enjoy the festivities all day.

These courses each have one aid station, which will supply food, water, and electrolyte drink mix. No support crews are allowed, and there are no water oases on the course.

Unbound 50 course details:

  • Distance: 52.0 miles
  • Elevation: 1,528′

Aid Station:

  • Aid Station One – Mile 28 | Olpe, KS

Unbound 25 course details:

  • Distance: 25.1 miles
  • Elevation: 667′

Aid Station:

  • Aid Station One – Mile 15 | Emporia Municipal Golf Course

Shakeout rides

Where all the fun happens.

Unbound gravel race fun group photo
Shakeout smiles at the 2022 Unbound.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Friday, June 2, 2023

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