Whether a rider, support crew, volunteer or race staff, you certainly get your money's worth at the Dirty Kanza 200. Riders assemble on Emporia's Commercial Street in the pre-dawn getting ready for the 6 a.m. rollout before the sun peeks over the horizon.
Support crews and locals also line the streets, the former getting ready to head to Checkpoint 1 to wait for the riders they are supporting. From there, the event goes all day, with lucky finishers crossing the line before sunset, and others not coming through until past midnight Sunday morning.
Between Emporia, Alma and then back to Emporia, riders get to experience 200 miles of Flint Hills gravel while probably learning a thing or two about themselves. Fortunately, there is the knowledge that one of the best parties in cycling awaits at the finish if they are able to complete their prescribed distances.
The finish line stays open until 3 a.m. Sunday morning, and the finish line block party rages until midnight, with hundreds of folks hanging out to cheer on finishing riders.
Covering the Dirty Kanza is also an all-day affair. With the course a bit more spread out than most, it takes a little pre-race planning and hoping that the spot that looks cool on a map also looks cool in person.
You also quickly learn how the minimum maintenance roads are marked and find ways to avoid driving over them, lest you flat like so many riders do during the race.
My task for this, my second DK200, was to follow the fronts of the Women and Men's races while also hoping to catch the rest of the field, the heart and soul of the Dirty Kanza, in the early parts of the race and again at the finish block party.
I put together a gallery of images that follow the day in chronological order from Emporia at 5:50 a.m. to the Flint Hills and back to Emporia well past 10 p.m.
You can take a look below.
For more from Emporia, see all of our coverage of the 2019 Dirty Kanza 200.