Life Time announces details of 2023 Grand Prix series

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Life Time, parent company of events such as the Unbound Gravel and Leadville Race Series, has announced details of the 2023 Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda.

The Grand Prix series debuted in 2022, with Life Time’s six off-road events featuring points-based races. 60 athletes were selected for the inaugural event, which paid $250,000 to the top 10 men and women.

Keegan Swenson of Heber City, Utah and Haley Smith of Ontario, Canada won the overall series titles.

Haley Smith and Keegan Swenson secure the 2022 Life Time Grand Prix titles (Photo: Life Time)

The Grand Prix returns in 2023 with some significant changes.

First, the series will expand to seven races instead of six. The seventh race is considered a “wild card” and will be announced in January 2023 after the athletes have been selected and committed to the series. The six named races are the same as last year – but the Sea Otter XC MTB race is increasing in length from 80k to 100k.

Next year, Life Time will allow athletes to skip two races, counting only their first five race results into the overall results.

In 2022, 35 men and 35 women will be selected from 60 competitors. The $250,000 prize purse paid to the top ten men and women remains unchanged.

Also new for 2023, Life Time will cover all entry fees for all competitions for selected athletes. This is a significant change; In 2022, racers were guaranteed entry to all Grand Prix races, but had to pay their own entry fees.

The selection criteria for the next class of Grand Prix athletes will depend largely on past results. While the results influenced the selection of last year’s class of riders, the application also asked drivers to explain how they would be ambassadors for Life Time and the series.

According to Michelle Duffy, Life Time’s director of events, brand and content strategy, that question won’t be on the app this year, and the selection panel will instead focus primarily on the results of “dozens and dozens of the most competitive programs. Gravel and mountain bike events in North America and Europe.

“Results were a big focus for us last year as well, so the integrity hasn’t changed, but given the level of interest last year and this year, we want to be really informed about who comes through that process,” Duffy said. “We want to make sure that anyone who isn’t on our radar isn’t passed over. It also helps discover the Paige Onweller of the world. We discovered him through Gravel Worlds, where he took fifth place.”

Life Time owns the registration and results platform Athlinks.

the grand prix of a lifetime
Alexey Vermeulen, Keegan Swenson and Russell Finsterwald form the top three of the 2022 Life Time Grand Prix. (Photo: Life Time)

Duffy also said that doping controls introduced last year will be more prevalent in the 2023 Grand Prix. Last year, USADA tested athletes at three of the six Grand Prix events. In 2023, the anti-doping agency will participate in more competitions and test more athletes, including non-Grand Prix athletes.

For example, last year’s Unbound winner Ivar Slick could not be tested because he was not part of the Grand Prix. Under the new scheme, any athlete participating in a Grand Prix event will be drug tested, whether or not they are competing in the series.

Duffy did not say in which competitions there will be doping control, only that there will be more than three.

The points structure will remain unchanged, with 35 points awarded to the best Grand Prix winner in each race.

Life Time senior marketing manager Ryan Cross said the selection team spent countless hours evaluating the Grand Prix’s point structure.

“We have thought a lot about goal scenarios,” he said. “We looked at moto grand prix points, racing, F1, golf – all these major sports and how other leagues do it. Halfway through the season, we polled the athletes and asked, “What do you think about the goal?” we asked the question. Most said they liked it. First, it’s simple. It also keeps things close. At the end of the season, we could have run away if we were counting on wins or podiums.”

The points structure kept the 2022 series a tight race until the end, with many riders saying the final race of the season, the Big Sugar Gravel, was the most competitive. For many, it was that race that decided the overall podium. In 2023, Big Sugar will remain the mandatory tie-breaker.

Athletes can apply for the 2023 Grand Prix between December 1-7, 2022. Life Time will announce the selected applicants on December 15.

2023 Life Time Grand Prix races

April 22: 100K Cross Mountain Bike Race on Fuego XL at Life Time Sea
Otter Classic presented by Continental in Monterey, California
June 3: 200 mile Garmin Unbound Gravel presented by Craft Sportswear in Emporia,
July 8: 69 mile Life Time Crusher in Tushar presented by The Creamery in Beaver,
August 12: 104-mile cycling stages Leadville Trail 100 MTB in Leadville, Colorado
September 16: 40 mile Life Time is presented by Chequamegon MTB Trek in Cable, Wisconsin
October 21: 100-mile Life Time Big Sugar Gravel presented by Mazda in Bentonville,
Arkansas (this event is a mandatory tie breaker)
Wild card event: the seventh event will be announced on January 1

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