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Unbound Gravel 2024 results: EPIC ride from Heather Jackson ahead of Western States

Jonathan Turner
News Director
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Former pro IRONMAN triathlete Heather Jackson will head into Western States later this month as one of the big favourites – and on the back of a superb performance last weekend at what’s arguably now the world’s biggest gravel bike race – Unbound.

A multiple winner over the IRONMAN distance, where the swim and bike sections are followed by a marathon, the American has since made a hugely successful switch and now combines ultrarunning and gravel racing.

She has unfinished business at Western States after a DNF on her debut last year but since then has underlined why she’ll be a leading contender.

She won six ultrarunning races in 2023, with victory at the Javelina Jundred in October the most significant and earning her a ‘Golden Ticket’ to Western States.

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Alistair Brownlee also an Unbound fan

Jackson’s prep for the 100-mile Western States may have been very different to many of her rivals, but she’s clearly in great form on two wheels judged by last weekend’s exploits in Kansas.

Unbound Gravel started in 2006 with less than 40 riders – all men – but has since grown to 5,000+ participants who take ride over a range of distances, from 25 to 350 miles.

None other than double Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee admitted he was sorely tempted to head over to the US to experience Unbound himself.

The showpiece event that attracts the best riders in the world is the 200-miler (or 202, to be more precise) and for the first time this year it saw the women get a significant time gap for their own dedicated start – five minutes after the pro men and 25 minutes before the 1,200+ amateurs.

And organisers were rewarded with what turned into an thrilling contest which after 202.8 miles (and 11,849 feet of elevation gain) ended in a nine-woman bunch sprint.

Jackson was in the thick of the action throughout and finished fifth in the sprint, just a second behind winner Rosa Klöser of Germany.

‘When can we do it again?’

And writing on Instagram since then, it’s clear that Unbound this year lived up to all expectations.

She said: “No words. Just so happy🤗 Mechanical fairies were w/ me yesterday and I FINALLY got to execute my training and fitness at @unboundgravel after some bad luck the last couple of years.

“After 202 miles of racing our own race – women vs women unaffected by any men – it came down to a sprint between 9 of us and I ended up 5th.

“A sprint is my worst nightmare but honestly, it didn’t matter by the finish chute. I sprinted as best I could but the day had already been a win that I will remember forever.

“@unboundgravel is so epic because of its length (yes I know I’m stating the obvious) but most gravel races are 5-7 hours and we had 10+ hours. 10+ hours of women battling, making moves, women attacking, pushing the pace up climbs, etc. 10+hours on replay in my head right now. Our OWN race. So, so epic. When can we do it again?”

Heather Jackson at Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB
Heather Jackson at Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB. [Photo credit: UTMB]

Next in focus for Jackson is a return to ultrarunning and one of the very biggest races in that sphere – the Western States Endurance Run on 29 June.

She’s been busy preparing for that in between the gravel races, adding: “Course recon complete🤗 Saw all the sections of @wser I didn’t make it to last year🤦🏼‍♀️.”

Unbound Gravel results, Saturday 1 June, 202.8 miles

WOMEN:

  1. Rosa Klöser (GER) – 10:26:02
  2. Geerike Schreurs (NED) – 10:26:03
  3. Paige Onweller (USA) – 10:26:03
  4. Haley Smith (CAN) – 10:26:03
  5. Heather Jackson (USA) – 10:26:03
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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