Life Time is making smaller changes rolling into the third year of its Grand Prix gravel/mountain bike series. They include prizing changes, automatic re-acceptance and an earlier application window, among other changes.
The announcement comes as Life Time Grand Prix rolls into its grand finale weekend in Bentonville, Ark. with the Big Sugar Gravel race. Canadian and defending women’s champion Haley Smith is currently ranked third in the series going into the last race weekend.
Interested athletes can apply now.
2024 Life Time Grand Prix changes
The changes to the 2024 rules are mostly tweaks, but they will be important changes for athletes. This starts with opening the application window earlier, which is apparently intended to allow athletes to use participation in the Grand Prix when negotiating with potential sponsors.
For athletes already in the series, 30 of them will likely be relieved to learn that the top 15 finishers (men and women) will be invited to the 2024 series if they choose to re-apply. That will be important as Life Time is reducing the field size back to 30 men and 30 women, the same as its inaugural year, after expanding in 2023.
As always with Life Time, there is more cash on offer. The prize purse moves up to $300,000 across the top 10 men and women, through Life Time has not finalized how exactly that cash will be divided. Three races, Sea Otter Classic, Chequamegon MTB and Crusher in the Tushar, will all have their own additional prize purses. That keeps the GP as one of the bigger payouts in the North American racing scene.
After separating the elite racers from the general population in 2023, the men’s and women’s fields will start separately at all Grand Prix events.
Life Time made a big deal of expanding to have a more international field leading into 2023. For next year, any international applicants will be “required to show that they have proper travel visas to be in the U.S. for the full series.”
What stays the same?
While some things change, more is staying the same. The series still consists of seven events, split between gravel and endurance cross country mountain biking: Fuego XL at Sea Otter, Unbound Gravel, Crusher in the Tushar, Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Chequamegon MTB Festival, The Rad Dirt Fest, and Big Sugar Gravel. Accepted racers must start at least five of the seven events to qualify for the overall standings, with the best five of seven results…