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Dirty Kanza 200 – A “Decade of Dirty” In The Books!

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | June 23, 2015

It seems like the organizers of the Dirty Kanza outdo themselves each year.  For the now decade old Dirty Kanza, they added hundreds of “lite” ride participants (20 or 50 mile riders) on top of the 1,500 riders that participated in the “half pint” ride (one hundred miles) and the Dirty Kanza 200 mile race.  The humble origins of this race started in a hotel parking lot with thirty-eight participants.  Once the event moved downtown (year four) in a partnership with the Granada Theatre, Emporia Main Street and the City of Emporia, things grew quickly.

The explosive growth didn’t change the focus of the race organizers.  They have always maintained quality over quantity and a healthy respect for the community and the Flint Hills.  Adding a low environmental impact sport to one of the worlds most beautiful places seems like a “no brainer” now, but this was a risky proposal in the beginning.  Thousands of people committing themselves to a brutal endurance race with fans cheering as athletes scream down a commercial corridor in downtown Emporia towards a finish line seems a little nuts on the surface.  But, the uniqueness of the event is one of the things that has encouraged the community to embrace it.  Rather than go on about this year’s iteration of the Dirty Kanza, we wanted to share some of the traditional media, photo albums and documentaries from this years events.  More information always crops up in blog posts and traditional media over the next days and weeks, but below is a sampling of this years Dirty Kanza.

This year’s Dirty Kanza included a series of small documentaries that focused on some of the participants in various portions of the race.  Click HERE for the films.

Emporia Main Street Special Projects Coordinator Shane Wilson was able to form a solid contact with the Associated Press, which led to an article placed all over the nation.  Publications like USA Today, The New York Times, Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports and several other regional outlets carried information about the Dirty Kanza and Emporia, Kansas.  Click HERE for one of the articles.

One of the biggest names in sports media, Sports Illustrated, gave its readership a basic overview of the Dirty Kanza.  Click HERE for the article.

Regional outlets like the Topeka Capital Journal, the Lawrence Journal World the Kansas City Star (Pre) (Post) and KSNT News also carried reports of the Dirty Kanza both pre and post race.

Industry news like Cyclocross Magazine carried news of the Dirty Kanza to the cycling world.

Some media outlets focused on the unique stories of their local riders, like a wounded combat veteran from North Carolina that used the Dirty Kanza to help raise funds for other wounded veterans.

Then there were the pictures…  We have some outstanding local photographers that captured amazing shots of the Dirty Kanza experience.  While we can’t list everyone’s albums properly, here are a few to look through: Dave Leiker, Eric Benjamin (the Adventure Monkey), Jason Ebberts of TBL Photography, the Emporia Gazette, and KVOE.

KISS Radio provided sound and color commentary for the Finish Line,including this statement by the overall female winner.

Emporia Main Street has a social media photo album (we aren’t professional photographers, so please don’t judge).  And, the video of the 200 Mile launch was viewed thousands of times!

Remember that none of this happened by accident.  The course isn’t magically laid out, the registrations don’t automatically appear, the finish line party doesn’t spring from the earth on its own, the check points don’t man themselves, the expo doesn’t spring into existence on its own.  Real people do real work, spend real money and make real sacrifices to make events like the Dirty Kanza happen because they want to create something wonderful for our community.  A lot of you helped make events like the Dirty Kanza happen this year, and we’ve heard numerous accounts of the appreciation felt for everyone that makes things like the Dirty Kanza, Glass Blown Open, Great American Market, The Taste, Welcome Back Block Party, Midnight Madness, Live in the Lot or all the other major events that happen in Emporia all year long.

A note about appreciation: I know the word “appreciate” gets thrown around a lot after these events, but for volunteers out of context that word can sometimes sound hollow. You can’t take appreciation into a bank to secure a loan, you can’t buy a car with it, it can’t fix a relationship, help you reclaim time lost with loved ones or provide you with those things that bring you personal happiness. Being “appreciated” in a general sense doesn’t mean a whole lot. SHOWING appreciation by working together to do something larger than ourselves, making things important in our lives that secure a brighter future in our community and creating opportunities for others to obtain shared success is actual appreciation. It’s not a word, it’s an action that many of our volunteers (people I like to call “the doers”) take very seriously.  These folks could head off to Kansas City every weekend to go mess around, but they choose to spend a lot of their time here making things better and creating new opportunities.  They derive their personal version of happiness by doing for others.  The doers work hard to create the type of community they want to live in.

So, my challenge to all of you as we look back on a wonderful series of local events that have happened recently is this: be a doer.  Get involved.  Show your appreciation for those that make the sacrifices necessary to create awesome events, local businesses, activities and more by investing your time, talent and treasure on nights and weekends to build a better community.  Emporia is an awesome place that allows anyone who wants to work hard to make a difference.  Because this is a Main Street newsletter, I’m largely preaching to the choir here, but all of us know that we can give people the opportunity to get involved to do more if they are so inclined.  Doing is the only way events like the Dirty Kanza ever happen.

See this article and much more in this week’s Emporia Main Street E-newsletter!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.