Here’s what some past participants have to say about their
Dirty Kanza 200 experience:

“If you’re even slightly interested in riding the Dirty Kanza 200, do it! Rebecca (Rusch) said it right; no matter where you finish you’ll be a changed person when you get there. And the atmosphere in Emporia was sensational. On numerous occasions people stopped athletes on the street, in restaurants, or in the grocery store to thank us for coming to the race and to their town. And that’s rare, even in towns with much longer histories of hosting off-road endurance races.”
–Chris Carmichael, Colorado Springs, CO

“What the Kanza does to you (is) it surprises you.  It’s tougher than you think it’s going to be. It’s prettier than you think it’s going to be. The community is more supportive than you think they’re going to be.  And, ultimately, it’s more rewarding than you thought it was going to be.”
–Dan Hughes, Lawrence, KS  (4-time Overall Champion)

“Hardest race since I raced pro.”
–Chris Carmichael, Colorado Springs, CO

“And there it was. After 215 miles (for me) of relentless walls of wind buffeting you from every angle, after grinding through seas of loose, often sharp stone, after all the ups and downs and trials and tribulations, it was there. As I rolled through the thundering tunnel of the roar of the spectators and across the line, my throat slammed shut and tears fell from my eyes… I’m sure glad I went.”
–Selene Yeager, Emmaus, PA

“This was actually one of the best races I’ve ever done. The Flint Hills of Kansas were really pretty and there were so many twists, turns and hills. The character of the gravel was even changing all the time. The whole town of Emporia, Kansas came out for the event and it was a huge party. It’s a great race with a great vibe. I would go back for sure.”
–Rebecca Rusch, Ketchum, ID (Multi-Time World Mountain Bike Champion)

“So much to say about this event… It’s awesome… It’s brutal… Its’ relentless. I love Emporia, Kansas.  The event blew me away on all fronts: the organization, the kindness of enthusiasm of the locals, the challenge of just completing it.  It was one of the greatest cycling experiences of my life.”
–Paul Errington, Newcastle, United Kingdom

What you have there in Emporia, the incredible race, the people who organize this thing and the people of Emporia themselves is something magical. I’ve been to tons of races and sporting events over the years but Dirty Kanza beats them all hands down. Keep doing what you are doing. I’ll be back.
–Jenny Wise-CookGardner, KS

“It’s obvious to me that the entire town of Emporia is on board for this event & we were blown away by the whole weekend experience… This race changed my son’s life in knowing he can probably do anything he sets his mind to in the future… It was by far my proudest moment as a parent to see him rolling in…”
–Matt Bergen, Paxton, NE

“An event is only as good as the people behind the scenes making it happen. I can say that, to a man, Dirty Kanza had the best people behind it you could ask for. When you look at the way the event was set up and the course it was run on, you have to be impressed. It could quite possibly be the ultimate gravel grinder. With the length, the hills, and the variance in texture and quantity of gravel road surface, Dirty Kanza has raised the bar on what an epic gravel grinder is.”
–Mark “Guitar Ted” Stevenson, Waterloo, IA (Promoter, Trans Iowa)

“Thank you (DK Promoters) for this incredible experience. I know you see the joy you’ve given people and I hope you see mine… (and) thank you Emporia Kansas, you set an example of embracing cycling that the whole country can follow.”
–Tim Ek, Duluth, MN

“Make no mistake, the Dirty Kanza is rough… To define it as a “typical” gravel event is to under-estimate its sheer ruggedness.”
–Matt Gersib, Lincoln, NE

“Dirty Kanza keeps getting bigger and better every year. The town of Emporia gets a high five for getting behind the event and welcoming all the lycra clad warriors with open arms… I will never forget that day for the rest of my life. That’s why I ride a bike. I’m already looking forward to next year.”
–Corey “Cornbread” Godfrey, Lincoln, NE

“When you finish (another well-known gravel race) you feel like a Buddhist Monk. When you finish Dirty Kanza, you feel like a Rock Star.”
–Tim Ek, Duluth, MN

“Dirty Kanza was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, or attempted to do. It was wonderful and terrible. I was tested in so many ways, and although I fell short overall, there were many small truimphs throughout the day. I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish, but I’m ok with what I managed. It would have been really easy to not register for this race because I knew I had basically no chance of finishing, but it was never about finishing. It was about attempting something big and seeing what I was made of… and finding out that I’m stronger than I ever knew.”
–Kate Geisen, Edwardsville, IL

“The work that you all put in to making the DK200 a success is far reaching. Today we had our monthly staff meeting at work and they asked for inspirations and motivational thoughts that I took away from the race this weekend. I told them as I saw these strong riders coming in sick, bloody, barely able to stand but pushing thru to the end, I thought to myself “Whats my excuse? It’s time to set some goals and stick to them.” As an office we shared some personal goals that included cycling goals, 5K’s, 10K’s and half marathons. It was pretty awesome. Goals have been set and we are encouraging each other and holding each other accountable. I just thought you should know that the DK has been the source of inspiration for MANY good things. Thanks, you guys. Job well done!!”
–Renee Sampsel, Emporia, KS

“Thank you so much for all your hard work. (You) put on a heck of a show. Emporia is an amazing little town and I hope they know how much the racers get a kick out of that finish! Coming in to the finish with Gunnar will always be one of the highlights of my life.”
–Betsy Shogren, Morgantown, WV

“What a race. The course was unbelievable. We were riding through open cattle range on the rockiest roads I have ever seen. After that we hit the mother of all downhills. It was a rock road littered with even bigger rocks and there was a good sized ditch down the left side. That was the scariest ride of my life. This was one of the best races I’ve ever been to. It was well worth the 12-hour drive. The promoters were great. They had the course marked well, great maps to follow and really made it a fun atmosphere to race in. Thanks guys! I look forward to coming back next year.”
Dave Simmons, Grand Forks, ND

“Gravel roads in Kansas aren’t like the ones in Iowa. What they call gravel I call rocks, big ones. And when they say Flint Hills they mean that there are arrowheads sticking out of the ground waiting, hoping, to puncture your tires. I want to go back and do it again.”
–Matt Maxwell, Ames, IA

“The race organizers did an awesome job of being organized for this event. I was very, very impressed. These guys had passion for this event and it showed 100% of the time. We were warned that the next 60 miles or so (after the midway checkpoint) were very secluded, and they were right. I believe we were on a road without an intersection for what seemed like 15-18 miles. There were one or two tough climbs here and one climb that seemed to go on for miles. It wasn’t overly steep, but the road was rough and slow. The beauty of the surroundings certainly made up for the 8-9 mph I was going. Then coming around this ridge on a hill I was suddenly flying down the most incredible downhill. It was like riding within a picture you would see in a magazine or something. It was pure heaven. I had a blast and will never forget it. I certainly would like to do next year’s version, that is for sure.”
–Paul Jacobson, Gilbert, IA

  • Diane O'Mara - April 29, 2014 - 9:06 am

    I just wanted to let you know that watching my 2 sons – Scott & Shawn O’Mara cross the finish line was one of the proudest moments in our family. To know that they spent grueling hours on a bike and still had enough energy to cross the finish line was a TOTALLY AWESOME EXPERIENCE.

  • Virgilio Villarreal - June 1, 2015 - 12:19 pm

    I will never forget the will and determination of everybody to get through the 3 mile section of unrideable mud. No one complained while we all just kept slogging on. I pushed through on faith, determination and wanting to get back on my bike. Thought Id share this since this is what helped me push through. Thank you for such a great event!

    Tale of the Two Wolves

    One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ” My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, Which wolf will win? The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed”

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