Wilcox wins, Tower nips Grande as 907 women excel in Kansas

June 4, 2019
Lael Wilcox bikepacking, biking

Lael Wilcox

Anchorage’s Lael Wilcox pedaled to victory in the women’s division and finished sixth out of 46 riders overall in the 350-mile ultra-endurance XL event of the Dirty Kanza races in Kansas.

More than 2,700 bikers from all 50 states converged on the rolling Flint Hills to race hundreds of miles in what is dubbed the ‘gravel-grinding capital of the world.’

The annual Dirty Kanza included a total of 10 races, ranging from 25 miles and 350 miles, and featured different divisions for men, women, high school and tandem.

Professional cyclists, Olympians and national and world champions in cyclocross, road and mountain biking were among the competitors.

Wilcox, 32, is among the biggest names in bikepacking.

So much so she served as keynote speaker at a Women Ride the World panel hosted by Dirty Kanza.

Janice Tower bikepacking, biking

Janice Tower

A couple of hours later, she rode to a win in the DKXL race in 23 hours, 51 minutes, 47 seconds. She won the women’s title by more than 2 hours and 15 minutes.

In the Dirty Kanza 200, Anchorage riders Janice Tower and Christina Grande both finished in the top 45. Competitors gained a total elevation of 9,601 feet.

Tower, 57, clocked a time of 15:41:30 to finish 42nd out of 141 women. She was the oldest finisher among the top 50 and finished third in her 50-59 age group.

Tower is a former record holder in the Alaska Fireweed 400.

Grande, 36, finished in 15:46:09 to place 43rd, one spot behind Tower.

Christina Grande

Christina Grande

The Dirty Kanza has seen female participation rapidly grow over the last few years.

Four years ago race organizers launched an effort to have at least 200 women ride the 200-mile distance. In the 2016 race, 54 finished. In 2017, it jumped to 124. Then it reached 133 in 2018 and 141 this year.

This year saw a new course and the addition of WorldTour riders to the field.