The Fourth Annual Spartan Ultra World Championship will take place in Mountain Village this weekend, as it will be the first time the Spartan Ultra World Championship will be held in the United States.
The event will feature a 24-hour Spartan World Championship course, a 30-obstacle half-marathon Saturday, and a Spartan Vertical 300 course Friday.
Mike Morris, the vice president of production for Spartan Races, described Spartan as “an endurance brand that helps change lives through making people uncomfortable.”
Since its conception in 2010, Spartan Races has held 250 events across 40 countries on six different continents. The championship, which was started in 2017, is the most significant event Spartan hosts throughout the year.
Registration for the event opened in February, with an estimated 3,000 participants expected to attend.
“The majority of people who do this race, at least 60 percent, are located in the U.S., so they were happy that's in their backyard,” Spartan's director of business development Cherie Bortnick previously told the Planet.
Despite the high percentage of U.S. participants, the event attracts some of the world's best endurance athletes. The most extreme athletes participate the 24-hour Ultra 50K Championship race. This year's course is a 10-mile loop, the longest in Spartan history, and features 60 obstacles. The race starts at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday and continues through Monday morning.
In 2019, the men's champion, Canadian Ryan Atkins, did not need the 24 hours and completed the 80-mile course with a time of 23 hours, 22 minutes and 5 seconds. According to the Spartan website, Atkins climbed more than 8,800 meters, higher than Mount Everest. The 2019 women's champion, Rea Kolbl of Slovenia, climbed nearly 7,700 meters with a time of 24 hours, 10 minutes.
“The Ultra World Championship is the most grueling event of the season,” Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena said in a news release. “Twenty four hours with no sleep, mountainous terrain, and hours of complete darkness puts athletes to the ultimate test of strength and sheer will, and I can't wait for it to unfold here in the U.S. for the first time, especially in a location as epic as Mountain Village and Telluride Ski Resort."
Spectators are more than welcome to come and watch the athletes at 3 a.m. Monday, Morris said jokingly.
Spartan Race is no stranger to cold, high-elevation mountain locations. In 2019, the championship took place in Åre, a ski resort in Sweden, and in 2017 and 2018, it took place in Iceland. Mountain Village was placed on Spartan's radar after De Sena was on vacation in Telluride a few years ago and fell in love with the location.
A lot of factors go into choosing the site of the championship, Morris explained. There needs to be space for the organization's nine trailers, basecamp, and an apt location for the obstacles and courses. Morris acknowledged that Mountain Willage is busiest during ski season, and during the offseason, he is aware they are preparing for the winter.
"We want to be very sensitive to all the requirements of the area, and we want to make the least amount of impact as possible," he said.
The organization started setting up for the event last week, but has been in discussion with the Town of Mountain Village for over a year.
"While our area is best known for its unparalleled skiing, our diverse mountain terrain, high elevation and extensive single-track trails will present a formidable challenge to even the most fit and seasoned athlete," sTelluride Mountain Village Owners Association President & CEO Anton Benitez said in a press release. "Crossing the finish line in our town's Village Center will be an experience that races will never forget. TMVOA is excited to be sponsoring this endurance competition in Mountain Village."
Locals are invited to watch, and those brave enough can still register to participate.
The Spartan Vertical 300 race takes place on Friday from 3-4 p.m. The 13-mile Spartan Beat Race and Ultra World Championship opening ceremony will take place on Saturday, Oct and feature a Parade of Nations.
Morris encourages locals to take the gondola into Mountain Village and watch the events.
"In the Village, you get a sense of what's going on overall. It's going to be a much different feel Saturday with the opening ceremony and a lot more people in attendance. Sunday to Monday, it'll be a smaller group, but it'll be much more intense because people will be out for 24 hours," Morris said.
Details about the event and registration can be found on Spartan's at spartan.com.