When I was out at Owls Head resort in July 2016 for the Montreal Spartan Beast I overheard an interesting conversation…
As the Elites were congregating near the coral to head out on to the course, the MC announced that he would like any racer who has finished in the Top 10 of any Spartan Elite heat to please step into the corral. Racers began to pile in to the corral as did I. Once all the elite of the elite heat were in the corral I overheard a conversation between two guys a few people ahead of me.
Guy 1: “Hey man when did you get a top 10?”
Guy 2: “Out in Western Canada”
Guy 1: “HA! Western Canada races don’t really count”
Not exactly what was said, but you get the point.
Western Canada Spartan Race had the image of being less than adequate when compared to other Spartan Race events. For one reason as noted from the conversation above is from the lack of competiveness in Western Canada. It was clear that making a Top 10 finish in Western Canada was seen as an easy task.
Now to be completely honest I’ve often wondered the same thing. Is Western Canada Spartan Race as competitive as other places in North America? Eastern Canada Spartan has significantly more races, not to mention a large number of other obstacle course races (Dead End Race, X Man Race, and Avengers Race, to name a few). The abundance of obstacle course races in Easter Canada, along with their close proximity to North East United States simply brings about a larger number of races for people living in Eastern Canada to attend. With more races comes more racers, and with more racers comes more elite competitors. So by this logic it would be true that Western Canada competition does not stack up to Eastern Canada.
But before we draw any conclusions let’s have a look at what we got here out West.
Admittedly the Spartan Race point system is flawed, but for the moment it’s the best we have so let’s have a look. In the 2016 Canadian Spartan Rankings 7 of the Top 10 spots are held by Western Canadian athletes (Mikhail Gerylo (1st), Josh Stryde (4th), Austin Azar (5th), Jessica Lemon (6th), Kristian Wiecalwek (8th), Luke Ball (9th), and Michelle Ford (10th)).
Again one could argue that if competition is weak in western Canada then the above mentioned athletes have no competition therefore they are able to accumulate a large number of points relatively easily. This is a fare statement, so let’s see how these athletes have done outside of Western Canada.
Mikhail Gerylo: 20th overall in Spartan World Rankings, Citi Field Stadium Sprint 7th, Montreal Spartan Beast 1st, 15K OCRWC pro division 8th, and Battle Frog Twin Cities 1st.
Josh Stryde: 38th overall in Spartan World Rankings, 47th at Spartan Race World Championships, Montana Spartan Beast 5th, Colorado Spartan Super 5th, Colorado Spartan Sprint 4th, Montana NBC Spartan Sprint 34th, and 15K OCRWC 3rd in age group.
Austin Azar: 13th overall in Spartan World Rankings, 15th at Spartan Race World Championships, 10th in NBC Spartan series, Montana Spartan Beast 3rd, Montana NBC Spartan Sprint 10th, Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint #2 4th, Asheville NBC Spartan Super 15th, Breckenridge NBC Spartan Beast 14th, Breckenridge Spartan Sprint 4th, 15K OCRWC 2nd in age group, BFX 24 Winner, and 2nd Place at World’s Toughest Mudder (100 miles).
Jessica Lemon: 37th overall in Spartan World Rankings, 16th (female) at Spartan Race World Championships, Montana Spartan Beast 3rd.
Kristian Wieclawek: 42nd overall in Spartan World Rankings, Montana Spartan Beast 9th, Montana NBC Spartan Sprint 17th.
Michelle Ford: 61st overall in Spartan World Rankings, Montreal Spartan Ultra Beast 2nd, Montreal Spartan Super 5th, 3K Pro Division at OCRWC 7th, and 2015 Spartan Race Ultra Beast World Champion.
Other notable Western Canadian athletes include with success outside of Western Canada include: Allison Tai (2016 Spartan Race Ultra Beast World Champion), Keith Oftebro (6th Masters Division at Spartan Race World Championships), and of course Faye Stenning (Spartan Pro Team Member, 2nd NBC Spartan Point Series, 3rd at Spartan Race World Championships amongst many more podiums).
Based on all the successes and results of the above Western Canadian athletes across Canada and throughout the United States, I think there is no question that the competition out here in Western Canada is top notch! Sure we don’t have as many races as other areas, but clearly our caliber of athletes is amongst the best in the world and they are able to compete with the best of the best. After quite the successful 2016 I’m very excited to see what these awesome athletes have in store for 2017!
So to anyone thinking Western Canada Spartan Races are a push over…think again.