Life Time Grand Prix Introduces Separate Starts for Women

a group of cyclists on a muddy road
Separate Starts For Women at Life Time Grand PrixCourtesy Life Time

Last Friday, on International Women’s Day, Life Time announced that women will get their own start line, separate from the men, for all of their 2024 Grand Prix races. While it may sound like a small and obvious move, it’s actually a big deal.

“To say that having our own start is exciting would be a huge understatement,” says Hannah Otto (Finchamp), Leadville 100 winner and 9th overall in the Grand Prix last year. “A separate start will produce more competitive and exciting races in the women’s field. What’s potentially even more exciting is that Life Time is listening to us and following through with changes accordingly. That gives me confidence that the women’s race will continue to be elevated!”

Separate starts for the men and women mean the women can truly test themselves from the beginning to the end of the race. A mass start not only puts women in the mix with men, who often have different strategies at the start, but it also breaks the women up, making it more difficult for them to work together. The Grand Prix events are long days in the saddle, and if there’s chaos from the start, it’s incredibly difficult to have your best race.

Since its start in 2022, the Grand Prix has consistently awarded the same prize money to men and women. With the new start lines, it has taken an additional step to grow women’s gravel racing. The Grand Prix has also announced that it will continue to give equal race coverage and social media attention to the men’s and women’s races.

“The women have been providing feedback to Life Time and other organizers on what can be improved to create a better and more equal experience for women,” says Ellen Campbell, 11th overall in last year’s Grand Prix. “I’m glad to see this change made.”

“Of course this will alter many aspects of the races, some that not all people will be happy about, but I’m curious to see how things play out with this change. We can’t truly know what women’s racing is like in this discipline and in this space until we give women their own race to show us,” Campbell added.

Here are the dates and locations of the seven events in the 2024 Life Time Grand Prix:

  1. Sea Otter Fuego XL 100K - Monterey, CA - April 19, 2024

  2. Unbound Gravel 200 - Emporia, KS - June 1, 2024

  3. Crusher in the Tushar - Beaver, UT - July 13, 2024

  4. Leadville Trail 100 MTB - Leadville, CO- August 10, 2024

  5. Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival - Cable, WI - September 14, 2024

  6. Rad Dirt Fest - Trinidad, CO - September 28, 2024

  7. Big Sugar Gravel - Bentonville, AR - October 19, 2024

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