SBT GRVL & Leadville: Keegan Swenson dominates biggest weekend in mixed-terrain endurance racing

Swenson wins both Leadville 100 and the 142-mile SBT GRVL; Lauren De Crescenzo and Hannah Otto top women's podiums

SBT Gravel
(Image credit: Dane Cronin)

The who's who of off-road endurance racing descended upon Colorado this weekend for a double-header weekend of long distance racing at high altitude. 

The infamous Leadville 100, and round four of the Life Time Grand Prix, got things started on Saturday. A grueling 100-mile XC mountain bike course at very high altitudes, the Leadville 100 is one of the most iconic races in North America for mountain bikers and ultra runners alike. The Coloradan race takes place almost entirely above 10,000 feet (3048m) above sea level, and goes up as high as 12,516 feet (3815m). The course also boasts a whopping 13,129’ (4001m) of climbing.

More than 1,500 riders rolled off the start line to tackle the famed ‘Race Across the Sky’ through the Colorado Rockies, some in search of belt-buckle glory, others with the equally ambitious quest to stay ahead of the time cut. Riders ages 18 to 75 traveled to Colorado from 18 countries and all 50 U.S. states.

Life Time Grand Prix series leader Keegan Swenson entered as the man to beat and again proved unbeatable, coming across the line in six hours on the dot — just two minutes shy of the course record. 

Some fourteen minutes behind Swenson, the second-place finisher John Gaston is perhaps better know for his pursuits on snow. Gaston is one of the fastest skimountaineering racers in the country and was completely blown away by his podium finish.

“I don’t deserve to be up here, I’ve never done anything on my bike remotely close to a podium at Leadville in my whole life," he said. “I didn’t have much of a plan except to really stay on top of eating and drinking because I still have haunting memories of 2019 going up Powerline, so I wanted to do everything in my power not to relive that nightmare. I took every bottle I could, stayed on top of my gels. I’m over the moon.”

Hannah Otto (formerly Hannah Finchamp) was the first woman across the line, stating "patience was the name of the game today. I entered with complete and totalopenness and without expectation. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win until the last 100 yards. The last time-check I got was at mile 70 and at that point I had a 45-second lead, so from there on out I just told myself that’s what I had to play with.”

Leadville 100 Results

Men’s Results:

1. Keegan Swenson with a time of 6:00:01

2. John Gaston with a time of 6:14:31

3. Howard Grotts with a time of 6:15:19

Women’s Results:

1. Hannah Otto with a time of 7:24:07

2. Rose Grant with a time of 7:29:37

3. Haley Smith with a time of 7:41:53

Non-Binary Results:

1. Rach McBride with a time of 7:57:59

Women’s Para Results:

1. Hannah Raymond with a time of 10:56:48

2. Megan Fisher with a time of 11:41:30

Men’s Para Results:

1. Willie Stewart with a time of 10:52:44

2. Anothony Lee with a time of 11:41:43

3. Jeff Glasbrenner with a time of 12:03:08

The inaugural Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda adventure race series continues Saturday, September 17, with the 40-mile Chequamegon MTB Festival presented by Trek in northwest Wisconsin. 

The shortest race of the series, the 40-mile Chequamegon mountain bike race may however  be the most technical one. It features varying terrain as it meanders from downtown Hayward, Wisconsin over the famed American Birkebeiner Ski Trail and into the town of Cable.

Started back at the Sea Otter Classic in April, the Life Time Grand Prix is a mixed-surface race series in which a cast of 60 hand-selected international competitors travel across the U.S. to compete at some of the country's premier endurance events in pursuit of a $250,000 prize purse.

SBT GRVL

SBT GRVL 2022

(Image credit: Linda Guerrette)

Basketball Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller, former Paris–Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders winner Nikki Terpstra, WorldTour roadie Tiffany Cromwell and her Formula 1 driver boyfriend Valtteri Bottas, Zwift's Kate Veronneau, All Bodies on Bikes Advocate Marley Blonsky, along with the world’s most accomplished gravel riders. The 2022 SBT GRVL was the place to be seen this weekend.

Now in its third year, SBT GRVL has established itself as one the largest and most prestigious cycling events in the world with some 3,000 registered riders from 24 countries and all 50 U.S. states competing across four routes. The premier event is the 142-mile-race with approximately 9,200 feet of climbing.

Continuing his impressive winning streak, it was Keegan Swenson who again took top honors. Even the previous day's undertaking at the Leadville 100 didn't seem to slow him down. But the 28-year-old Utahn had to fight hard for his win on the 142-mile black course. He had to reel in a gap of nearly eight minutes in the race’s final 50 miles in order to be able to contest the finale. Freddy Ovett, who was off the front much of the day with John Borstelman and Nathan Spratt, hung on to Swenson's wheel for a close second place finish. Payson McElveen, who worked with Swenson in the chase group to reel-in the leaders, claimed the third podium spot.

In the women's category, it was back-to-back titles for Lauren De Crescenzo. The 2021 winner put in a decisive move on the women’s field on the climb into Oak Creek and never looked back. Whitney Allison and Ruth Winder joined De Crescenzo on the podium. 

SBT GRVL Black Course Results

Men’s Top-5

1. Keegan Swenson (6:16:57 // 22.6 MPH)

2. Freddy Ovett (6:16:58)

3. Payson McElveen (6:16:59)

4. Brennan Wertz (6:18:12)

5. Alex Hoehn (6:18:12)

Women’s Top-5

1. Lauren De Crescenzo (6:48:26 // 20.86 MPH)

2. Whitney Allison (7:01:43)

3. Ruth Winder (7:13:28)

4. Sarah Max (7:13:53)

5. Alexis Skarda (7:27:05)

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