The Emporia/UNBOUND Phenomenon

Avatar photo Posted on May 14, 2024 by Visit Emporia

There’s nothing else like it in the world! Really. The Garmin UNBOUND Gravel is considered the world’s premiere gravel race–and it takes place right here in the beautiful Flint Hills, with all races beginning and ending in downtown Emporia.

Credit North 40 Photography

2024 UNBOUND week is May 29 through June 2, bringing 4,000 cyclists who compete for the prestige of crossing the finish line of this iconic adventure. The UNBOUND signature event is the 200 mile race through the remote and rocky terrain of our famous Flint Hills. A unique feature of the UNBOUND races is the “do not call us” policy for injuries and breakdowns–and the checkpoints riders must locate to stay on the correct racing course. 

Enthusiastic family, friends, and fans maintain SAG outposts at official checkpoints, providing water and (sometimes much-needed) support for adventurous riders. UNBOUND includes a cascade of events besides the 200, all of which start and finish in the 800 block of Emporia’s main street, Commercial Street. The elite men’s 200 takes off at 6:00 a.m. on June 1, the elite women’s 200 at 6:05 a.m., the open 200 starts at 6:30 a.m., and the UNBOUND Gravel 100 start is at 7:30 a.m. The 100-mile race is considered a stepping stone to the featured 200-miler, with shorter 50- and 25-mile races and a junior race as well, all beginning later in the morning. The grandest of them all, the 350-mile UNBOUND Gravel XL, is an exercise in endurance and tenacity. It starts on Friday, May 31, at 3:00 p.m.

For those who are not gravel racers, there is still plenty to enjoy during UNBOUND week in Emporia! The Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame Happy Hour kicks off the all-things-gravel week, on Wednesday afternoon, May 29, at the Emporia Granada Theatre, 807 Commercial Street, followed by the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Hall of Fame After Party gets going at Merchant Cycles (716 Commercial St.) at 8:00 p.m. that evening.

Thursday and Friday, the parking lots in the 600 and 700 blocks of Mechanic Street are transformed into an open-air, open-market All Things Gravel Expo, presented by the City of Emporia. More than 100 exhibitors from around the world will promote and present their wares for athletes and spectators alike. Family friendly activities, photo opps, shakeout rides, and more abound at the Expo, as well as vendors, demos and food and beverage trucks. There’s something for everyone! 

Excitement reaches a fever pitch on Saturday afternoon as finishers ride down the chute to the finish line in the 800 block of Commercial Street. Join in the fun for the UNBOUND Block Party! The Finish Fest takes place from 11:00 a.m. until midnight Saturday in the 700 and 800 blocks of Commercial Street in downtown Emporia. We’ve got the cowbells! Cheer on the riders as they cross the finish line, and celebrate with your choice of beverages from local businesses and the ever-popular beer garden. Food trucks will also entice you with a variety of delicious offerings.

Credit North 40 Photography

After the races, while most are recovering from the grueling rides and a night of celebratory fun, enthusiastic volunteers head back out onto the course and clean up every bit of trash–including things like discarded tires and furniture that littered the course before the races ever took place!

Emporia pulses with excitement during UNBOUND week–you can feel the energy and the unbound passion in the air! You might rub elbows with the world’s premiere cycling stars, get an up-close look at all the newest cycling gear, and celebrate our town’s biggest block party at the finish line!

While you’re here, you’ll want to partake of Emporia’s award-winning brewery and pub, and the distillery offerings and a rainbow of eating establishments for all tastes. Check out the Visit Emporia website for all the details on where to shop, where to sleep, and where to eat in our town!

Emulate our hardworking course cleanup volunteers, by learning more about the Visit Emporia Pledge, which encourages everyone to be good stewards of our community and environment during your time here with us. 

  1. Stay golden
  2. Leave no trace.
  3. Respect the land and its people.

Find out how YOU can take the Visit Emporia Pledge here.

Visit Emporia is the official Visitor Information Center for Emporia offering brochures and maps of Emporia, surrounding areas, and the state of Kansas. Drop in to visit us at 719 Commercial St., in downtown Emporia. We’re open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. See the Visit Emporia website for more information or check us out on Facebook, and Instagram for more activities and events.

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Avatar photo

Visit Emporia

Visit Emporia welcomes travelers and meeting planners, and serves as the visitor information center for Emporia, Kansas and surrounding area.

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