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Gravel racing’s biggest event may change its name following the dismissal of its founder.
Organizers of the Dirty Kanza on Monday released a statement saying they are contemplating changing the event’s name for the future. The statement did not give a timeline for the name change, or reveal specifics about a new name.
“We have been working throughout this year on options for a name change,” the statement said. “Our event name wasn’t created with ill-intent, and while we have worked with and received support from the Kaw Nation, we also understand that our name should not cause hurt. This process does take time, and we want to make this change in the correct manner. Please know that we will share progress as we work through this process.”
The decision comes one day after the race’s founder, Jim Cummins, was fired by ownership group Life Time for making insensitive comments on his personal Facebook page concerning the recent shooting death of Rayshard Brooks by police.
Cummins, who founded the race in 2006, sold ownership of the event to fitness chain Life Time in 2019. Following the sale Cummins stayed on as an official with the company, which also operates the Leadville Trail 100 MTB.
The decision to potentially change its name comes months after the Dirty Kanza dismissed a call for a name change by the website Cyclista Zine. In April the website circulated a petition calling for Life Time to change the name, saying that by prefacing Kanza with the word “dirty,” the race connects itself to anti-indigenous violence.
The word Kanza is associated with the Kaw Nation, an indigenous tribe in Oklahoma and Kansas.
In April the race released a statement co-signed by Lynn Williams, the chairwoman of the Kaw Nation, saying the word “dirty” simply reflected the off-road nature of the event. Event organizers said they have a working relationship with the Kaw Nation surrounding the event and its name.
In its latest statement, the race emphasized its commitment to being a leader in diversity within the cycling community. It made a request to gravel riders to share their thoughts and ideas on boosting the event’s place as a diversity leader.
“Change is never easy but it is necessary as we continue to grow and spread the joys of gravel with an even broader community,” the statement said. “As the community of gravel grows more inclusive and diverse, it will become even more remarkable.”