Canadians sweep Spartan North American Championship | SierraSun.com
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Canadians sweep Spartan North American Championship

“It’s nice to finally put it together and have a good race,” said men’s winner Ryan Atkins. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a really good run here.”
Justin Scacco / jscacco@sierrasun.com
“I’m just happy we had a chance to come and race here,” said women’s winner Emma Cook-Clarke. “I tried to keep it expectations low, knowing anything can happen. For me the priority was to hang out with these people, and my family. Priority number one was to enjoy myself and do the best I could.”
Justin Scacco / jscacco@sierrasun.com

A pair of Canadians swept the Spartan North American Championship Saturday morning at Olympic Valley.

Battling across more than 30 obstacles and 13.5 miles of terrain, Canada’s Ryan Atkins finally conquered the course at Olympic Valley after finishing as a runner-up four times at the venue.

“It’s nice to finally put it together and have a good race. I don’t think I’ve ever had a really good run here,” said Atkins, who finished the event with a time of 1 hour, 56 minutes, 23 seconds. ““It means a lot to get that monkey off my back and put it together.”



Going into the race, Atkins, of Ontario, said he spent most of his training time at sea level.

“It’s always hard coming in from sea level and showing up and racing,” said Atkins. “Racing hard for two hours at altitude is always hard. Everything kind of compounds. Yeah, you can run up a mountain and then you can do an obstacle, but doing it all together as hard as you can just hits you differently.”



In past years, Olympic Valley has hosted the Spartan World Championship, but with the event being moved to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the North American Championship was shifted to Palisades Tahoe. Atkins said he plans to compete at the World Championship later this year.

Ryan Woods, of Boone, North Carolina, was second with a time of 1:58:22. Mexico’s Angel Quintero was third with a time of 2:02:34.

On the women’s side, Canada’s Emma Cook-Clarke captured the North American title, taking the win at her first time competing in Olympic Valley.

“I loved it,” said Cook-Clarke on the venue. “The course was amazing, the terrain here is awesome. I’m super happy it was able to happen. I can’t imagine the nightmare of COVID and also the fires nearby. It just feels surreal to be here.”

Cooke-Clark, who crossed the finish line with a time of 2:19:28, is part of a team set up by defending Spartan World Champion Nicole Mericle. The group brought three women to Saturday’s championship and had all three finish in the top-five.

“(Mericle) started this initiative to get more women in the sport, and so there’s five us that are on the Dream Team, and three of us are here,” said Cook-Clarke. “She has set up a lot of resources for us and it’s been awesome.”

Training with the team paid off for Cook-Clarke, who said she had difficulty with a few of the obstacles, and suffered from cramping during the race. Also, when athletes fail to complete an obstacle they are penalized by having to do burpees.

“The burpees are really hard afterward,” said Cook-Clarke. “I found it tough to calm down after those.”

In the end, no amount of burpees would stop Cook-Clarke as she crossed the finish line for her first North American title.

“I don’t know if it’s set in. I’m just happy we had a chance to come and race here,” she said. “I tried to keep it expectations low, knowing anything can happen. For me the priority was to hang out with these people, and my family. Priority number one was to enjoy myself and do the best I could.”

Cook-Clarke’s teammate, Annie Dube, of Redondo Beach, was second with a time of 2:20:49. Rea Kolbl, of Boulder, Colorado, was third with a time of 2:25:30.

Roughly 5,000 athletes competed across a number of distances and open races. Winners of the North American championship received $12,000 each as part of a total of $62,000 in prize money given out.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com


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