Just three days before the 2014 Spartan Race World Championships, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett and her husband, Tim, posted a video on Facebook of her dunking herself under a tub of ice-cold water in her hotel room.
It would have seemed a little strange, if not downright weird, but Rose is an obstacle course racer, and so it almost made sense for her to submerge herself with a dozen buckets of ice floating in it.
“She wanted to ‘practice’ cold water,” says Tim, a personal trainer who was against Rose’s idea. “The idea was to then go run. Hey, don’t question the crazy mind of a champion.”
Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, after all, is one of the serious contenders for the Sept. 20-21 Spartan Race World Championships near Rutland, Vt., and she, like many others, is feeling the intensity. Spartan’s never had so many elite athletes competing in one race who have a shot of beating current world champion Amelia Boone. (UPDATE: Amelia Boone announced on Sept. 18 that she has withdrawn from the event due to a broken leg and torn meniscus.)
The next three months is an exciting period of time in the world of obstacle course racing, called “OCR” by the hardcore fans (and who isn’t hardcore in that world?). Aside from Spartan’s World Championships, next up is Warrior Dash, which will host its inaugural event on Oct. 18 in Esparto, Calif. The fourth World’s Toughest Mudder takes place in a new venue, Las Vegas, on Nov. 15-16. There’s also a new championship event, the OCR World Championships, slated for Oct. 25-26 near Cincinnati.
SPARTAN RACE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Date: Sept. 20 for the world title, though other events will take place during the weekend as well.
Venue: Killington Mountain in Rutland, Vt. At 4,235 feet, the mountain is the second-tallest in Vermont.
Race: An expanded Spartan Beast of approximately 15 miles and 30 obstacles, making it one of the most grueling of the year.
Purse: More than $330,000 in cash and prizes, up 10 percent from the year before.
Participants: More than 10,000 are expected to be there, but the elites will include Olympians, trail-racing champions and, of course, the top OCR stars in the world (and we do mean the world). Deanna Blegg of Australia, a World’s Toughest Mudder champion and runner-up for last year’s Spartan title, will round out a field that includes Alex Roudayna from Mexico and Zita Kempelen of Hungary. On the men’s side, Knut Hohler of Germany and James Appleton of the UK will face off against top U.S. racers Hunter McIntyre, Cody Moat and Matt “The Bear” Novakovich.
RELATED: Q&A With OCR Star Deanna Blegg
Preview: This year’s event has a true world championships feel to it, even more than last year, when NBC televised it for the first time. An emerging crop of contenders makes it anyone’s race this year on both sides. The men’s side appears wide open, as Moat, McIntyre and Novakovich all have won races this year, and there are at least a dozen others who could win, including David Magida. World champion Amelia Boone dominated last year’s season but has lost a few this year to Wetzel-Sinnett and other contenders such as TyAnn Clark. With Boone out with an injury, Wetzel-Sinnett, Clark and Blegg will be contending for the win, along with April Dee and Roudayna and K.K. Stewart-Paul. Expect some surprises to emerge as well, as Joe DeSena promises some new obstacles that the racers haven’t seen.
“The reality is, this race isn’t about speed,” Magida says. “Past performances mean nothing out there. This mountain just crushes people. It’s about grit. I plan to just run my race, ignore everyone else, and if things go well, I’ll be in contention.”
Hobie Call won’t be there even though he won last year’s event. He considers himself semi-retired and trains for the shorter races now, not the kind Spartan will host for its world title. He says the longest race he’d run was a marathon at just under 2:30 (he’s run much faster as well), but last year’s Spartan took him about 3:30 to finish, and he was the winner. “I told myself I would never race an event like that again without training for it,” Call says.
How to track it: Check out Spartan’s Facebook page and watch for the broadcast on NBC on Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. ET. Readers can also vote for their favorite racer and who they think will win at vote.spartan.com/worldsparelite.
WARRIOR DASH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Date: Oct. 18
Venue: Yolo Land and Cattle Co. in Esparto, California.
Race: A 5K with 12 obstacles over mountainous terrain.
Purse: $100,000 in prize money. The top male and female finishers will get $30,000 for first, $10,000 for second, $5,000 for third, $3,000 for fourth and $2,000 for fifth.
Participants: The field was expected to include Amelia Boone and Hobie Call, each of whom won the Spartan Race world championships last year, as well as Max King and Cody Moat. (But Boone’s status is unknown due to her Sept. 18 announcement of a broken leg and torn meniscus.) The list also includes Junyong Pak, who won two Worlds Toughest Mudders. Participants qualified by finishing in the top 25 in a special elite race held before the open wave events or by running a 7-minute pace at one of the events for males and an 8:30-minute pace for females.
Preview: Warrior Dash made it clear this year that 99 percent of its participants should expect a good time at its event and not a competitive time by discontinuing timing chips for the first time, mostly in response to the fact that almost all are there just to finish and have fun. But the race also added the world championships as a way to honor the competitiveness of its elite participants, says Emma Haley, director of the Warrior Dash.
“This caters to our competitive, elite athletes across the country and shifts company resources toward improving our obstacles, including Goliath, our largest obstacle to date,” Haley says in an e-mail. “We are able to foster the competition between these elite athletes and offer the largest prize purse in 5K history while staying true to our event.”
They’ve attracted a heck of a field, Call says.
“It will probably be one of the most competitive races we’ve ever seen,” Call says. “All those guys will give me a run for my money. Honestly, I could come in fifth or sixth and still have a good race.”
Call says the shorter distance is an advantage to him, since he mostly trains for those races, but it will be interesting to see how others such as Pak who excel at longer distances do in this one.
“The thing about Warrior Dash is the obstacles are so simple and so fast, it’s really more of a 5K trail run,” Call says.
How to track it: Follow @WarriorDash on Twitter, as the company will be tweeting from the event. Results will be posted on the Warrior Dash website and Facebook page
OCR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Date: Individual competition takes place on Oct. 25 and the team competition on Oct. 26.
Venue: Cincinnati, Ohio and the Mud, Guts and Glory race.
Race: 8-mile race with obstacles. The course will not be the same as the Mud, Guts and Glory and will in fact feature special surprises unveiled on race weekend.
Purse: A minimum of $60,000, with $10,000 to the top elite male and female and $1,000 to the winner of each age group division. There are 15 divisions. There are prizes for teams as well.
Participants: Racers qualify in events all over the country. You can find a list at OCRWorldChampionship.com. The event is also on Twitter and Facebook.
Preview: This inaugural event is the first of its kind and seeks to unify the sport by offering qualifying events all over the country, including those run by Spartan and many smaller companies.
WORLD’S TOUGHEST MUDDER
Date: Nov. 15-16
Venue: Lake Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Race: A 24-hour race with double the obstacles per mile than any other Tough Mudder event. Participants run a 5-mile circuit with 20-25 obstacles, and the one who runs the most laps in the 24 hours wins. The race includes the debut of 2015 obstacles and other obstacles only found at this event. In addition to individuals, four-person teams will compete as well. Nearly a third of the field is expected to run at least 25 miles. The field will include many of the top OCR stars, including star-laden teams led by David Magida and Hunter McIntyre among others. Junyong Pak, who won the event in 2011 and 2012, will be there, as well as Deanna Blegg, who won last year’s event. Jim Campbell, a former top-ranked American Motorcycle Association racer who has completed 50 Tough Mudders, will compete.
Purse: The top males and females will receive $10,000 for first, $4,000 for second, $3,000 for third, $2,000 for fourth and $1,000 for fifth. The best team wins $12,000, $6,000 for second and $2,000 for third.
Preview: The World’s Toughest Mudder was the first to host a world championship, and the event remains the most grueling by far for those who want to win. Awards are also given for finishing 25, 50, 75 and 100 miles. Anyone who finishes 125 miles gets a lifetime entry into Tough Mudder events. There are other awards, including one for the fastest first lap, but this event is all about determination and an unnatural ability to withstand suffering more than speed. As proof, there’s another recognition for the most laps completed between sunset and sunrise.
The event prides itself on being painful and loves to dish out a little sass.
“When it comes to World’s Toughest Mudder, you better show up as the best version of yourself,” a description on the Web site reads. “If that sounds like something you want to do, then WTM might be for you. If not, then please type http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com into your web browser and spend your hard-earned dollars there instead.”
How to track it: Toughmudder.com or the Facebook page.