From Land Run 100 to The Mid South: The Story of The Rebranding
The gravel race created in 2013 by Bobby Wintle in Stillwater, Oklahoma has changed its name after some reconciliation with the infamous 1889 Land Run.
In 2011, the District Bicycles team began to form, and it was during this time that Bobby discovered the roads around Stillwater, OK. As he explored, he realized the potential of the area and thought it would be absolutely amazing to ride these dirt roads on a gravel bike.
This was the beginning of the Land Run 100 story.
The LR100 started out as just a bunch of friends and 100 miles of racing on the red clay soil of Oklahoma. When Bobby Wintle launched this event in 2013, about 120 runners started to run the 100 miles of multifaceted road. From smooth to rough trails, from dry and compact dirt tracks to impassable mud sections, the course tests the riders and their equipment. With 40% of finishers in the early stages, the goal for many is not to finish first, but simply to finish.
From year to year, the event attracts curious people and makes people talk about it, in 2020, it is estimated that 3600 people registered for the bike and foot races.
On foot? Yes, you read that right. By evolving, the Land Run 100 changed its format, with 3 possible bike races (100, 50, and 12 miles) but also an ultramarathon of 50km.
The 50km ultramarathon exists thanks to the initiative of Arthur Elias, who took on the crazy challenge in 2014 to do the LR100 entirely on foot. After an injury during his first attempt, Arthur realized the unthinkable in 2015 by finishing the race and the following year, in 2016, he greatly contributed to the organization of a 50km race in the spirit of the Land Run 100. That year, 30 people tried this new challenge.
Since then, some wanted to push the limit even further, asking to participate in both the LR100 and the ultramarathon: The Double was born.
Among these evolutions, there is one that calls out, that is the rebranding of the event, from Land Run 100 to The Mid South.
A name that refers to a dark period
What Bobby Wintle didn’t know when he initially chose Land Run 100 was that the name of the race would be linked to the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run.
On April 22, 1889, hundreds of thousands of settlers gathered at the start of the first Oklahoma Land Run. The American authorities opened to the colonization of 8000 square kilometers of “Unassigned Lands”.
When the race started, everyone set out to be the first to plant a sign somewhere indicating that the land was now theirs. On several occasions, the authorities used this land-run method to divide up the Indian territory, to the detriment of the local tribes. The Indian territory was gradually taken away from the Indians who had been promised it forever.
With thousands of participants, the Land Run is one of the most violent episodes in the history of the American frontier, with many conflicts and disputes over the allocation of land parcels, some ending very badly.
Although these sad events and the race have only their name in common, the organizers have been criticized for such a choice and some, including descendants of spoiled Indians from their territory, have argued that they would never participate in an event like the LR100 if he kept his name.
A positive and joyful gravel race
Far from suspecting such a connection, it is with a positive objective, to share friendship and brotherhood that Bobby Wintle strongly contributes to the growth of the race. Figurehead of the event, the founder’s energy is contagious, at each edition, he welcomes the finishers of the race by hugging them and congratulating them.
Bobby pushes people to surpass themselves, to become aware of what they are capable of doing, and to share something with a friendly and united community. Far from discriminating against anyone, it is in keeping with his values that the race changes its name to The Mid South.
The organizer wants everyone who comes to test themselves on a race to feel the indescribable energy that is transmitted there, on the red dirt of Oklahoma. By gathering all these sportsmen around a common hobby, he doesn’t want to hear about any barriers, on the contrary, he wants to remove those between men and make brotherhood shine.
If when the race started, Bobby did not know the history of the 1800s Land Run, the founder rectified the situation by renaming the event. Today, the race continues to evolve and diversify, always offering new things, new races, and activities around Stillwater.
Bobby continues to grow his event successfully, which turns into several days of gathering people from over 47 countries around sports and music.
Good luck Bobby, and all the best for the future.