The Spartan Race World Championships returned to Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe for its second consecutive year marking it the sixth world championship event held by Spartan Race dating back to 2011. The competition steadily increased every year in the young sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), however, Canadians manage to consistently remain atop the podium and for a second year in a row have taken half of the twelve available podium positions.
2012 champion and Utah native Cody Moat took the lead early on in the Men’s Beast distance on Saturday until being passed by another Utah native, 2013 champion Hobie Call on the bucket carry. Clearly the high altitude training of these two athletes came into play at this venue which tops out at 9,050 feet (2,760 meters). Ryan Atkins (Caledon, Ontario) worked his way up from 9th to 2nd place between the Ape Hanger and Spear Throw obstacles, partially due to his dominance of heavy carry obstacles including a double sandbag carry, log carry and 1km long bucket carry (filled with gravel). Atkins finished just 26 seconds behind 2016 Spartan Race World Champion Hobie Call, making it the closest finish between 1st and 2nd in Spartan Race’s Championship race and resulting in Atkins’s third consecutive 2nd place finish at the Spartan Race World Championships. 2015 champion Robert Killian finished in 3rd place.
AK: What was going through your mind when you were in 9th place?
Ryan Atkins: Just that I would wait for the carries. I was never panicking, just racing my own tempo. I would have liked to be a bit closer, but I was only 3 minutes back at the start of the log carry.
AK: Did you fail any obstacles?
Ryan Atkins: No failed obstacles.
AK: At what point did you pass Cody Moat?
Ryan Atkins: Passed Cody at the bucket carry.
AK: When you passed him how did he look?
Ryan Atkins: He looked pretty tired, and was moving quite slow.
AK: How does it feel to finish in 2nd place for the 3rd consecutive year at the Spartan Race World Championships?
Ryan Atkins: It feels familiar! Ha! Honestly I’m proud that I can be this consistent against a field of people that keeps getting stronger every year.
In the woman’s race, Lindsay Webster got off to a commanding lead that lasted until the last few miles when she suffered from serious cramping issues. It’s possible the numerous water obstacles, which included a cold swim near the summit of the mountain and the Dunk Wall, may have contributed, yet Webster is unsure as to whether or not the water caused her cramping. She eventually got passed by 2015 Spartan Race World Champion Zuzanna
Kocumova (Czech Republic) on the “trail run” section.Kocumova went on to win the race for a second consecutive year, while Webster (Caledon Ontario) managed to stave off a surging Faye Stenning (Calgary, Alberta) as they simultaneously arrived at the last and arguably most
technical obstacle: The Spartan Rig. Around the half way
point of the obstacle, Stenning fell off and Webster strategically abandoned the obstacle, knowing that her hands were shot and that her cramping was likely too painful to complete the rig. The result was an epic side-by-side burpee battle between the two Canadians, with Lindsay Webster edging out Faye Stenning by half a second for 2nd place.
AK: To what do you attribute your increase over last year’s 9th place World Championship result?
Faye Stenning: When Joe DI signed me to the Pro Team I promised myself I would do everything in my power to beat everyone. This meant making some huge sacrifices such as taking a leave of absence from work so I could take training to a whole new level. Having the time to do proper recovery sessions as well as adding more obstacles specific workouts has really helped me this year.
AK: Were you getting updates from Spartan Race stand and/or volunteers about your proximity to Zuzana and Lindsay?
Faye Stenning: My sister was giving the best and most accurate updates on how far I was behind Zuzana and Lindsay . This was a huge reason I was so successfull. I could hear it in her voice that she believed I could wheel them in which in turn made me believe it.
AK: At what point did you see that you were closing in on Lindsay for 2nd place?
Faye Stenning: On the bucket I could see that Lindsay was in striking distance but it wasn’t until she failed the hoist that I realized she was beatable.
AK: What was going through your head when you were in that burpee battle with Lindsay at the end of that brutal race?
Faye Stenning: I couldn’t stop thinking about how hilarious it was that after fighting all season with someone and then in the end it comes down to fractions of a second. The whole moment was surreal and having the fan cheering so load made it that much better. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
AK: Have you ever pushed yourself harder than that during a race?
Faye Stenning: Yes, I push myself that hard in every race I run.
Sunday’s Ultra Beast (2x Saturday’s Beast course) saw Canadian athletes achieve even greater podium success. While athletes experienced considerable wind on Saturday, Sunday was considerably more miserable, so much so that race officials decided to remove the swim section prior to the start of the race. Marco Bedard (Quebec City) who was in 6th position at the Thigh Master obstacle placed around mile 6, worked his way up the mountain as well as the standing to 3rd by the end of his first lap before quickly moving into 1st, which he held onto for the win. Prepared for the miserable weather, Bedard was disappointed upon hearing about the removal of the swim section and was not particularly bothered about having the dunk wall closed down just after he passed underneath it, making him the only Ultra Beast athlete to complete the Dunk Wall on their 2nd lap.
The woman’s Ultra Beast was a different story regarding comebacks. Allison Tai (Vancouver, BC), fresh off a victory at the Sun Peaks Ultra Beast just one week before, lead the race from start to finish with 2016 Tri-State Ultra Beast winner Sarah Verguet Moniz (Royun, Quebec) trailing just behind her in 2nd for the entire race. Like Bedard, Tai also did not have any issues with the weather and had to remove her outer layers due to overheating during the race. Both Allison Tai and Marco Bedard appear to be in top form for a solid performance at World’s Toughest Mudder 6 weeks from their dominant Ultra Beast performances. Verguet Moniz held onto 2nd place, contributing to two Canadian victories and one 2nd place finish in the 2016 Ultra Beast World Championships.
In 2015, Canadian women Lindsay Webster and Rachel Paquette (Victoriaville) took 2nd and 3rd place while Ryan Atkins came in 2nd in the Men’s Championship Distance on Saturday. Sunday saw Michelle Ford (Vancouver) win the Woman’s Ultra Beast while Kevin Lavoie (Quebec City) won the men’s Ultra Beast and Alex Devine (Ottawa) finished 3rd. That adds up to 6 of the total 12 podium positions.
Photo Credit: Spartan Race, David Lee Tate Jr, Mud Run Guide
By : Adam Kwitko | Is an endurance sports journalist and race operations professional. He is an avid OCR racer, trail runner and advocate for mandatory completion OCRs who gravitates to the longer distances. He also consumes large amounts of honey and maple syrup.