BENTONVILLE/BELLA VISTA, Arkansas (October 15, 2023) – Northwest Arkansas saw a stacked field of the world’s top mountain bike racers at the Life Time Little Sugar MTB, in which Haley Batten of Santa Cruz, California and Keegan Swenson of Heber City, Utah took first in the elite 100K races. A $65,000 prize purse was split equally between the top five women and top five men finishers, the largest single-day prize purse in US mountain biking. The inaugural race had more than 1,000 participants, with riders aged 12 to 70 years old from 46 states and eight countries.
Racers had three course distances to choose from, including a 100K with 7,000 feet of elevation gain, a 50K course with 3,700 feet of elevation gain, and a 20K course with 1,250 feet of elevation gain. Riders traversed through grinding climbs, rolling descents, and rough and rocky limestone, with views of caves, waterfalls, and iconic ledges on the trails of Bella Vista and Bentonville. The courses featured a point-to-point format, starting at the Homestead in Coler MTB Preserve with a finish in Bentonville Downtown at the Square.
After 40 miles of solo riding, Batten was victorious for the elite women, finishing eleven minutes ahead of her closest competitor. When asked about the course, Haley commented, “It’s fantastic, it keeps you on your toes for sure. I had a blast riding the trails all week and checking out the course. It’s hard racing, it’s pretty relentless. I thought [going into the race] there’s not much climbing, it’s pretty rolling, but when you’re out there it’s relentless.”
The elite men’s race was closer throughout the day. After almost four and a half hours, the race came down to a sprint finish, with Swenson taking the win over South African Matt Beers, and Cole Paton just nineteen seconds back, finishing third. Olympic Gold medalist and pre-race favorite, Tom Pidcock, suffered a flat tire and rolled in for a 25th-place finish.
“A huge thank you to Bentonville and Bella Vista for hosting us on these world-class mountain bike trails for the inaugural Life Time Little Sugar MTB!,” said race director Ben Sachs. “The Northwest Arkansas community showed up in full force today to deliver an exceptional experience, including our incredible volunteers, emergency services teams, and the Trailblazers, who aided in our course setup. We are thrilled with year one of the event and are looking forward to continuing this momentum into next week at the Life Time Big Sugar Classic.”
Women’s 100K Race Results
|Haley Batten||Santa Cruz, California||25||4:53:22|
|Savilia Blunk||Inverness, California||24||5:04:34|
|Sofia Gomez Villafañe||Heber City, Utah||29||5:09:28|
|Katerina Nash||Truckee, California||45||5:17:45|
|Crystal Anthony||Bentonville, Arkansas||42||5:19:33|
Men’s 100K Race Results
|Keegan Swenson||Heber City, Utah||29||4:25:16|
|Matthew Beers||Cape Town, South Africa||29||4:25:16|
|Cole Paton||Cashmere, Washington||25||4:25:35|
|Bradyn Lange||La Center, Washington||24||4:30:10|
|Sean Fincham||Squamish, Canada||25||4:30:35|