As Spartans descend upon Glen Jean, WV for the North American Championship, the breathtaking Summit Bechtel Reserve Summit will pose a true test for all athletes, as they navigate 12+ miles and 30+ obstacles in this 14,000-acre reserve that hosts a national Boy Scout Jamboree. With this, the second year Spartan Race has come to this venue, this year the race in West Virginia will serve as a stand-alone championship for all of North America and serve as a litmus test for who the fittest athlete will be as we head into the World Championships in Lake Tahoe, CA.
When asked about race predictions for the North American Championship, Director of Sport Joe DiStefano recalled how Robert Killian, Jr. came away with the win in West Virginia the previous year and cautioned that Killian could again be a force to reckon with. “Killian has been battling a hamstring injury for most of the 2018 US National Series and managed to pull off the win in Utah and still take third overall in the series. The question everyone has to consider; did the hamstring injury really hurt him that much or is he entering championship season without as much fatigue as some of the other athletes?”
Robert Killian, Jr. is looking to reascend to the pinnacle of Spartan Racing by repeating as Spartan Race World Champion (2015). He shook off a slow start in the US National Series to win the Utah Super and take third overall in the US National Series. Killian is laser-focused on the North American Championship in West Virginia, a course that was very kind to him, as he took the win there in 2017.
Of course, there is still much discussion over the three-headed Ryan monster that took the US National Series by storm this year.
Ryan Kent started the US National Series strong with a second place finish in San Jose, CA and took first place in a wet, cold, and muddy course in Seattle. Since then, he found himself off the podium in each of the succeeding three races in the series. When asked how he plans to get back to early-season form, Kent responded, “[I’m going to] just keep doing what I’m doing. Making sure I’m at the start line with a rejuvenated mindset is the only thing stopping me from getting back to Seattle-like performances”.
In 2017, Kent had a breakout race in West Virginia, taking second behind Robert Killian, Jr. Kent attended college in Virginia, so he is familiar with the terrain and conditions that racers will see in Glen Jean. When asked about this home-turf advantage, Kent distinguishes the West Virginia race as entirely different from the other races in the series. “I absolutely love the West Virginia course… it definitely carries a different feel to it than other races. Hopefully I can get out there this year and put myself in position again to do something special.”
Ryan Woods turned in impressive performances at all of the US National Series races this year and took the overall series win by taking second place in the Utah Super. Historically, the winner of the US National Series has never won the Spartan Race World Championship since its introduction in 2015. When asked about this statistic, Woods replied with a simple, yet concise “… not worried”. His performance thus far in 2018 has given him a strong foundation of confidence headed into West Virginia, which time will tell if this yields a victory there, if not on the highest level in Lake Tahoe, CA.
Ryan Atkins is a proverbial monster on the course. No one should ever bet against Atkins in any race, as he has accumulated an impressive resume in terms of overall wins across varying distances. For most of the 2018 US National Series, Atkins been battling a heel injury sustained while rock climbing. When asked how he felt headed into the North American Championship, Atkins responded, “I’m feeling better than I’ve felt all year, so confidence and sensations are really good right now. I’m having a lot of fun with my training and if I can keep this excitement going, I’m hopeful something special could happen”.
Tune in to Spartan Race LIVE! August 25th at 7:00 AM EST to watch the action unfold!