Brutal Colorado gravel race turns socially distanced with new GPS format

Old Man Winter Rally is giving racers a nine-day window to log their fastest time on the course 

(Image credit: Denver Post via Getty Images)

A brutal Colorado gravel race has adapted to the coronavirus pandemic by launching a new GPS race format. 

Organisers of the Old Man Winter Rally, a hugely popular cross discipline challenge in Boulder County, have been forced to rethink their event due to Covid-19 and have come up with an innovative way of letting racers compete. 

The 2021 edition, which features a 50km and 100km off-road rides or a 10km run (or both), will see competitors given a time window to complete the course and then upload their GPS file to be included on the leaderboard. 

Organisers of the event said: “We are very excited to announce that we've worked with Boulder County to create a revised format for the 2021 Old Man Winter Rally that will allow us to host a safe event, even during times with COVID restrictions. The 2021 Old Man Winter Rally will now take place over nine days. 

“The epic adventure continues on the same courses and with full support (food, drinks, medical, tech) on the weekend days. Ride with GPS will provide live results and you can participate with your POD of friends and family (as long as your group is less than 10).

“You will need to select a day / start time and these spots are very limited to keep everybody safely distanced. So rally your crew and let's have some fun this winter!” 

Racers can also complete the course multiple times during the nine-day period, with their fastest time being included on the Ride with GPS leaderboard.  

The race takes place between February 6-14 and is based around the town Lyons.

Riders and runners traditionally face all kinds of challenges on the day, including rain, snow and hailstorms. 

The 100km ride is a challenging course featuring gravel roads, some tough climbs, fast tarmac and the infamous Rowena trail. 

Split into two timed segments, this year riders can choose to complete the two segments on the same day or split them across different days. 

The last bike event held was in 2019 (after the rides were cancelled last year) and the fastest male finisher was Yannick Eckmann, with a time of three hours and 30 minutes, just four seconds ahead of second place Ken Benesh. 

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Erin Huck was the fastest female finish with a time of four hours, while Trek Segafredo’s Ruth Winder came in second.   

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