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Gravel

Self-described ‘desk jockey’ William Harrison wins Unbound Gravel XL

Cynthia Frazier wins Unbound XL women's race.

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EMPORIA, Kansas (VN) — William Harrison better rest up after winning Saturday’s 350-mile Unbound Gravel XL.

He has to go back to the office on Monday.

Harrison, 34, completed the grueling journey under a downpour in downtown Emporia, stopping the clock in 20:17:29. He won the Unbound Gravel’s longest race after a cat-and-house battle in the front group, chasing down second-place finisher Marius Karteusch in the final 30 miles.

That’s not too shabby for a cyclist who is also a full-time working stiff.

“I’m just a desk jockey,” Harrison told VeloNews. “I ride my bike for fun. I just tend to do better in the longer stuff.”

Harrison works in financial services in Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s relatively new to the ultra-cycling world, having previously competed in Ironman triathlons and collegiate cycling events.

“I’ve done a 150 miler before,” he said. “I came here just wanting to finish, and there were a lot of strong guys out there.”

Yet Harrison was strong enough to make the front group of six riders that separated themselves during the nighttime leg of the Unbound Gravel XL. One rider crashed, bringing the group down to five. Then, as the front group approached the final food stop, Karteusch attacked and got a sizable gap.

“I was doing most of the pulling and we let the gap open,” Harrison said. “So I attacked and bridged up and immediately attacked second and third place, and found [Kartesuch] at the top of a climb and he had blown up.”

Harrison was worried he might get caught inside the final 30 miles, so he put his head down and rode as hard as he could to the finish. In the end, it was good enough to win. A look at his Garmin bike computer reveals the true pain of the effort: 352.6 miles, 16,068 feet of elevation gain, at an average of 17.8 miles per hour.

Still, Harrison said the hardest part of the entire race was the 30-mile drag race to the finish line.

“Usually something is going wrong and this time nothing went wrong. It all came together. It was hard to believe how good I felt,” he said.

Cynthia Frazier wins Unbound XL women’s race

Cynthia Frazier after winning Unbound Gravel XL. (Photo: Fred Dreier)

After crossing the line to win the 350-mile Unbound Gravel XL, Cynthia Frazier immediately took off her shoes.

“The last 50 miles have been the worst because my feet really hurt,” Frazier told VeloNews. “Other than that, things went pretty good.”

Frazier, a wedding videographer from Lexington, Virginia, won the event in her second attempt at Unbound Gravel XL, stopping the clock at 22:28:18. In 2021 she finished fourth place overall, and said she learned valuable lessons on how to go fast at an ultra-distance event.

“I learned how to eat, and how to make fast stops,” she said. “It’s all about consistency. I tried to ride consistent.”

Frazier said she rode with other women through the night, but at mile 240 she found herself ini a small group of men as the front woman in the field. She pushed on through the morning and kept going, despite the drenching downpour that soaked riders midday on Saturday.

 

Unbound Gravel XL

Men

  1. William Harrison, 20:17:29
  2. Marius Karteusch, 20:22:28
  3. Ernie Lechuga, 20:35:08

Women

  1. Cynthia Frazier, 22:25:18