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Little Sugar, Big Prize: MTB Race Offers ‘Biggest Ever’ One-Day Purse

Registration opens today for the Life Time Little Sugar MTB race in northwest Arkansas — where organizers announced a surprisingly fat prize purse.

mountain biking in POV(Photo/Public domain via Rawpixel)
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Initially, Life Time’s Little Sugar MTB race looked like it would kick out $25,000 in prizes between 10 Elite category men and women.

Now, that number has ballooned to $65,000.

The swollen purse represents the “biggest offering in a single day cycling event” in the U.S., according to Life Time. For pro riders and everyone else who’ll take the start line this fall, registration opens today.

Starting at 6 p.m. CT, you can register to ride in the mountain bike race, which runs from Bentonville to Bella Vista, Ark. The gun will sound for the 20K, 50K, and 100K men’s and women’s races on Sunday, Oct. 15.

The 100K is the only race open to Elite category riders, and the top five men and women to finish it will take home the cash. Each winner pockets $12,000.

Little Sugar MTB Registration and Categories

That doesn’t mean you can’t ride in the 100K if you’re not pro. Life Time groups amateur riders by gender and age group up to 70+. Also, there’s a men’s and women’s “para” category, plus races for nonbinary riders, fat bikes, and anyone crazy enough to tackle the course on a single speed. “Juniors” are also welcome, from 16 to 19 years old.

The 20K and 50K races feature more aggregated “open” categories, plus nonbinary, para, e-bike, and juniors groups.

The 100K course is a doozy. It works out to 61.7 miles and covers well over a mile — 6,558 feet — of elevation gain. It winds and weaves through “hollers” and ravines, offering “grinding climbs that alternate with fasting rolling descents,” according to Life Time.

It’s a big country ride that ends with fast-paced semi-urban sending. Racers will cut their finishing moves at Bentonville’s Slaughter Pen trail system on clean flow lines and techy rock — and catch glimpses of the amphibian-like Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

It all goes live in mid-October. And the party stays lit at Big Sugar, the grandaddy of gravel races in the region with a 100-mile and 50-mile race, a week later on Oct. 23.

Pro riders should note that new this year, the Little Sugar 100K is a qualifying race for the Leadville Trail MTB 100. Life Time specified that “a minimum” of 40 registration coins are up for grabs, between performance and lottery criteria.

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