SBT GRVL co-founder Mark Satkiewicz dies at 51

Satkiewicz and partners Amy Charity and Ken Benesh founded the gravel event in 2019.

SBT GRVL co-founder Mark Satkiewicz died of suspected cardiac causes while on a bike ride near his home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado Saturday. He was 51.

Satkiewicz and business partners Amy Charity and Ken Benesh launched the SBT GRVL bike race in 2019, and the event was a wild success in its inaugural edition, selling out more than 1,000 spots. It was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, yet Charity says that Satkiewicz was never fazed by the challenges of pivoting to virtual, or planning for the future.

“I’ve never been around someone more driven with a vision of where he was going and how to get there,” she said.

When it was launched, SBT GRVL boasted a vision that might have seen like a pipe dream to some — a huge cash purse, parity among the sexes, selling out in its first year — but not to those who knew Satkiewicz well.

“Mark was always moving forward, with a gusto and passion that could at times be awe inducing,” said friend Bernie Doering, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Stages Cycling.

Before SBT GRVL, Satkiewicz had a successful career in the outdoor industry. He joined the Smartwool merino wool apparel company in Steamboat Springs in 2006 as vice president of sales and marketing and became president of the company in 2009. In 2016, Satkiewicz left Smartwool to join the TOMS footwear company in Los Angeles. A year later, he and his family returned to Steamboat Springs, where Satkiewicz could focus on his passion for cycling and the community.

Satkiewicz had long been a passionate athlete, competing at a high level in both triathlon and cycling. Friends said that his dedication to training and excellence in sport was simply just a reflection of how he approached any situation in life.

His friend, Blair Clark, who is president of Canyon USA, remembers Satkiewicz as a “humble, but world class” athlete.

“Like the Pied Piper he annually led up to 100 people on a three-day ride from Steamboat Springs to Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer trade show,” Clark said. “Then after working for all week at the show, Mark would turn around and ride back alone in two days.”

Clark was one of the first people Satkiewicz approached to sponsor the fledgling gravel race in Steamboat Springs. In fact, when Satkiewicz, Charity, and Benesh decided to create a gravel event in Steamboat Springs, they leaned heavily on Satkiewicz’s connections in the outdoor industry. Nevertheless, it soon became apparent that it wasn’t just Satkiewicz’s Rolodex that made him fit for the event promoter’s job.

“He took the cycling industry by storm,” Charity said. “He was such an incredible mentor to so many people, to Ken and to me, but to everyone from athletes to media to sponsors. He was so motivated and passionate about what he did, and he had the patience to mentor us and help all of us. He just loved it.”

Doering says he was among the many who experienced Satkiewicz’s generosity of spirit.

“Mark gave his time willingly and selflessly to help and advise many of us in our endeavors,” he said. “’Don’t worry about it, just do good things’ was something he often said.”

Satkiewicz is survived by his wife, Amy, and their two daughters. He will be remembered by many.

“In spirit Mark will always be with me on a tough ride or in a vexing business issue, inspiring me to do my best and take care of others along the ride,” Clark said.