2018’s Highest Earning OCR Athletes

After a hiatus in 2017, we’re back with our highest OCR earner list. As was the case in 2016, this list only covers publicly available, published race winnings. It does not include any sort of pay or sponsorships from Pro Teams, nor any of the other usual sources of supplemental income. This may include television revenue sharing, coaching services, affiliate earnings, or other undisclosed payouts. These latter payouts make up a significant portion of athlete earnings, and for some athletes can dwarf race payouts.

To view our 2016 list, click here.

These USD-converted earnings are rough at best and should be treated as such.


8. Nicole Mericle

 

2018 Race Winnings: $27,000+
Biggest Payday: OCRW Championship 3k, $6,300

2018 saw a fair amount of obstacle racers pulling in mid to upper 20’s in race earnings. While these figures aren’t by any means earth-shattering, they are a positive sign. After all, there was a time when only the very top racers were making these amounts.

Nicole Mericle narrowly edged out a group of racers, including Tough Mudder X champion Emma Chapman ($25,000) for the number 8 spot. Thanks to her strong performances at the several championships. Mericle won two titles at the OCRWC Championships in England, a first and duel 2nds at the OCRW North-American championships, and a second at Spartan’s North-American Championships.* Nicole closed her season in style, racing three times over two days at the Spartan Trifect World Championship in Sparta, where she placed second, and then claimed a title no one else on this list has: The Red-Bull ‘All-In.’

*Our apologies if you’re new and in complete confusion as to the many acronyms and similar sounding championships. Every race series has their own ‘Championship,’ many of them with similar sounding names.

7. Hunter McIntyre

2018 Race Winnings: $30,000+
Biggest Payday: Tough Mudder ‘X’ Final, $25,000

There was a time when Hunter McIntyre seemed next in line to Hobie Call’s throne as king of OCR, but Hunter has never seemed particularly concerned with fulfilling other’s expectations. In the last two years, he has moved away from the OCR scene, racing just 8 times total. Hunter didn’t race a single Spartan Race in 2018, but he did compete in the Tough Mudder X  series, where he went three for three, including a win at Tough Mudder X finals that was worth $25,000. Sure, his winnings have dropped significantly from previous years, but no need to fret. Hunter has recently partnered with Beachbody on a video series, and we suspect sponsorship checks will continue to  hit Hunter’s mailbox for the foreseeable future.

 


6. Ryan Woods

Asheville Spartan Ryan Woods

2018 Race Winnings: $37,200+
Biggest Payday: Spartan National Series, $8,000

With an uncomfortable 2017 finally behind him, the sport’s fastest runner returned to form in 2018, diversifying his race series and winning at Savage Race, Spartan Race, and World’s Toughest Mudder’s team competition. At 39, Woods is among a group of racers including Cody Moat, Hobie Call, and Mark Batres, who are proving elite performance can be maintained well past the traditional peak performance windows in running sports.

 


5. Rea Kolbl

Rea-Kolbl-crosses-first-in-West-Virginia

2018 Race Winnings: $37,700+
Biggest Payday: World’s Toughest Mudder, $10,000

The former Slovenian gymnast has been on more Spartan Race podiums than any other woman in the last 3 years. Despite finishing 5th in Lake Tahoe, Rea has traditionally dominated in the longer race formats. She has not lost a race 8 hours or longer, including World’s Toughest Mudder in 2017 and 2018.  If Lindsay Webster is the best all-around racer right now, Rea certainly has a claim to the best pure endurance racer.

 


4. Robert Killian

Robert-Killian-Sandbag-Carry-Seattle-2017

2018 Race Winnings: $38,000+
Biggest Payday: Spartan North American Championships, $12,000

The former Spartan World Champion claims the number four spot thanks in part to volume, having raced (at minimum) a staggering 27 times in 2018.  Killian has never avoided racing, but even by his standards his August stretch was truly remarkable: in a span of eight days, he won five races, two of them longer ‘beast’ courses, including the North American championship. Bonus awesome feat: In May he came in first at the Montana Beast, then traveled to Colorado where he won the Sprint the next day.


3. Jon Albon

20151214200355

2018 Race Winnings: $63,200+
Biggest Payday: Spartan World Championship, $20,000

While the 2018 triple world champion (Spartan race, OCRW short and long courses) had another great year, it’s the purse Jon didn’t win that had the endurance world talking. Spartan CEO Joe De Sena offered 1 million dollars to the athlete who could win Spartan’s ‘big three’ of championship races, ie the World Championship in Lake Tahoe, Trifecta championship in Greece, and the Enduro 24-hour championship in Iceland. Albon won the first two before coming up short in Iceland, and although most remained dubious to the possibility of the triple, he certainly gave his all in chase of it.

Despite our hesitancy to enter the absurd ‘best athlete’ conversation, Albon might just have a case as to the most well-rounded endurance athlete on the planet. His 2018 resume includes wins in everything from the 3k to two-day orienteering events, Skyrunning series, and even a victory on the roads in the marathon.


2. Ryan Atkins

2018 Race Winnings: $74,200+
Biggest Payday: Spartan Ultra World Championship, $16,000

North America’s top male racer didn’t compete in as many Spartan Races as the others on the list, but that didn’t affect his earnings. Atkins won the 3k, 15k, and the coed team title at the NorAm champs, as well as the 24 hr Championship in Iceland. His efforts in Iceland also netted him an additional 10,000 bonus from Joe De Sena.

While many claimed Hunter would be the first “Million Dollar Athlete” in OCR, it appears it might actually be Ryan who will be the first. If our math is right, Atkins may have already eclipsed $500,000 in career winnings alone.


1. Lindsay Webster

2018 Race Winnings: $87,500+
Biggest Payday: Spartan Championship, Lake Tahoe, $20,000

What more can we say about Lindsay Webster at this point? Webster has won nearly everything available to her over the last three years.  This year she re-asserted her dominance, taking first in 19 of the 21 races she entered. Mind you, she wasn’t cherry-picking Sunday races. She won Spartan’s National Series and World Championships, the 3 km, 15km, and team races at Nor-Am champs, the 15km at OCRW Worlds, the Tougher Mudder crown in Seattle…. there’s too much to list, so do us a favor and just take a look below.

Webster’s current run in OCR is something we haven’t seen since the early days of the sport when Hobie Call and Amelia Boone reigned supreme, if at all. In this sport, athletes continue to excel through their mid-30s, and we don’t see the 29-year-old slowing anytime soon.

 


Many thanks to obstacle racing’s very-own living encyclopedia/stat maniac, Jack Bauer, for helping fact check this article.

How To Qualify For Tahoe Spartan Race 2019

***This article was updated on January 8 with the most up to date information available.

Matt B. Davis had a  call with David Watson, Vice President, Product and Sport at Spartan Race on several very important 2019 announcements for Spartan Race.  A complete podcast is on our Itunes feed and also at the bottom of this article.

This information is for The United States based Spartan season. Additional articles will be forthcoming in Canada and additional countries.

Paths to The Lake Tahoe Championship Beast –  Sunday Elite Heat

Path A

You need to race in The Spartan US National Series Races (USNS), elite heats.

  • February 23 -Jacksonville, FL Super
  • March 16 – Saraland, AL Super
  • April 13 – Snohomish, WA Super
  • May 18 – Big Bear, CA Beast
  • July 20 – Huntsville, UT Super

The top 80 racers from that series will qualify for Tahoe, Sunday elite heat.

Therefore, you do NOT have to race in all 5 to qualify, but chances are obviously improved if you perform better at more races.

When the final standings are posted on site at the Utah Super on July 20th, the process begins for “Rolldown Week”.

Competitors will have 7 days to register for Tahoe, or their spot will be “rolled down”.

If someone decides not to register, the next spot is ROLLED down. Those given the “roll-down eligibility” have another 7 days to register for Tahoe.

Path B

Show up at ANY other Spartan Race in North America. Come in top 10 Elite.

This qualifies you for the West Virginia North American Championship Race (WV) on August 24th.

If you finish in the top 70 places in elite at WV, and you are now eligible for Tahoe.

When the final standings are posted on site that afternoon, the process begins for “Rolldown Week”.

Competitors will have 7 days to register for Tahoe, or their spot will be “rolled down”.

If someone decides not to register, the next spot is ROLLED down. Those given the “roll-down eligibility” have another 7 days to register for Tahoe.

_____________________________________________________________________

Paths to The Lake Tahoe Championship Beast – Sunday Age Group Heat

Path A

You need to race in The Spartan US National Series Races (USNS), age group heats.

  • February 23 -Jacksonville, FL Super
  • March 16 – Saraland, AL Super
  • April 13 – Snohomish, WA Super
  • May 18 – Big Bear, CA Beast
  • July 20 – Huntsville, UT Super

The top 30 in each age group in that series will qualify for Tahoe, Sunday Age Group Heat

Therefore, you do NOT have to race in all 5 to qualify, but chances are obviously improved if you perform better at more races.

When the final standings are posted on site at the Utah Super on July 20th, the process begins for “Rolldown Week”.

Competitors will have 7 days to register for Tahoe, or their spot will be “rolled down”.

If someone decides not to register, the next spot is ROLLED down. Those given the “roll-down eligibility” have another 7 days to register for Tahoe.

Path B

Show up at ANY other Spartan Race in North America. Come in top 10 in Age Group.

This qualifies you for the West Virginia North American Championship Race (WV) on August 24th.

If you finish in the top 40 of your Age Group in WV, and you are now eligible for Tahoe.

When the final standings are posted on site that afternoon, the process begins for “Rolldown Week”.

Competitors will have 7 days to register for Tahoe, or their spot will be “rolled down”.

If someone decides not to register, the next spot is ROLLED down. Those given the “roll-down eligibility” have another 7 days to register for Tahoe.

Additional Notes About The Tahoe Championships:

  1. Competitors can only fill one space per category. Example: If Ryan Atkins qualifies through the United States Championship Series, and he qualifies “again” at West Virginia, his spot from WV will automatically be “rolled-down”.
  2. The Ultra Beast in Tahoe will have 2 waves on Saturday. One open and one elite.
  3. The Spartan Team Championship is NOT happening in Tahoe It will be moving to another venue, and perhaps a different country.
  4. The reason Spartan gave for Open Wave only on Saturday is as follows: They discovered that 80 percent of the open wave athletes from that weekend are local. Spartan’s hope is that the locals will come back to the course on Sunday for an improved festival area with food and music. David also mentioned bands, and broadcasting the race on Sunday on a big screen in festival area. They promised additional details are coming.

The New Spartan Pro Team

200 people from around the world. Some will receive higher benefits than others, but there is no A or B team. AKA No Select or JV Team.  The majority of athletes will be coming from North America.

Athletes can have additional non-Spartan sponsors as well plus the sponsors Spartan helps them acquire.

2019 Podium Rules

Same rules as before. Must wear a Spartan finisher shirt on the podium. This can be a Rakuten jersey or just a regular finisher shirt from the venue. Can wear hats, headbands, shorts, shoes, leggings of other brands.

The complete podcast interview with David can be found here.

An additional podcast with Heather Bode on Overcome and Run can be found here.

Here is a video summary from January 4th. 

2019 Spartan US Championship Series

Many elite racers have been waiting anxiously the last several weeks for Spartan to announce the 2019 United States Championship Series dates and locations. Last season, the announcement was made at the beginning of November for the 2018 season that began in San Jose at the end of March.

The first race for the 2019 Season the US Points chase is in 9 short weeks at a Super in Jacksonville, Florida. The next event will be at a Super in Alabama on March 16. One might assume these two east coast races back to back to start the season are to make up for a perceived “West Coast bias” schedule of last year. The 2018 events took place in San Jose, Seattle, SoCal, and Utah. The furthest “east” was the midwest race in Chicago.

The three remaining races will be back at Seattle, SoCal, and Utah.  There was a NorCal event (Monterey) in 2016 and 2017 before being replaced by Big Bear in SoCal in 2017. The Super in Seattle is also making its 3rd appearance in a row as a venue for this Championship Series. Palmerton and Asheville seemed to have moved to The Mountain Series or just as “regular season” races as time has gone on. Perhaps one day, these tough mountain courses will see a return to the US Championship Season.

Another interesting point, the press release below states “Men’s US National Series Champion Ryan Woods looks to stay ahead of Robert Killian and Ryan Kent among the field of elite athletes”

We understand Spartan wanting to highlight pro team members from time to time, but to leave out Ryan Atkins time and again in these posts, seems tone deaf. Atkins, was 2nd in the 2017 and 2018 US Championship Series, and 2nd in Tahoe , just a few months ago.

Here are the money payouts for the race and the series.

 

For the Obstacle Racing Media Major Championship Archives – Go Here.

Register for 2019 races - Go Here.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spartan’s US National Series Returns in 2019 as The Country’s Best

Endurance Athletes Seek to Make their Mark on OCR History

Elite Obstacle Course Racers Vie for More Than $110,000

Across Five-Events as part of the Spartan Global Championship Series

BOSTON, MA (December 21, 2018) – The country’s best endurance athletes will vie for more than $110,000 in prize money during the 2019 Spartan US National Series, which unfolds across five cities. Kicking-off February 23 at a new race venue in the warmth of Jacksonville, FL, the competitive Obstacle Racing (OCR) series leads to the regional 2019 Spartan North American Championship which will be announced at a later date.

“The US National Series sees the nation’s best athletes battling on the Spartan race course and every year, they raise the bar on the competition, and this season will not disappoint,” said Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “With new untested venues and returning courses that brought racers to their limits in previous years, the series will test the mettle and grit of Spartan athletes as they vie for one of the largest prize purses in the sport.”

After the fast and flat course in Jacksonville, the series heads to a swampy new venue in Saraland, AL March 16 before returning to scenic Snohomish, WA April 13 followed by mountains of Southern California’s Big Bear Lake May 18. The National Series champions will be crowned at the finale in Huntsville, UT on July 20, based on cumulative series ranking points. Four of the U.S. Championship events feature Spartan’s signature “Super” race format featuring eight-miles of terrain and 25 obstacles, while Big Bear Lake boasts a “Beast” race course with 12-miles and 30 obstacles.

As the series progresses, rivalries will form with reining Spartan Women’s World Champion and US National Series Champion Lindsay Webster expected to return to defend her title against the likes of Rea Kolbl and Faye Stenning while Men’s US National Series Champion Ryan Woods looks to stay ahead of Robert Killian and Ryan Kent among the field of elite athletes. As a leader in the Sport of OCR, Spartan has expanded its age group categories for the 2019 season from six to ten, splitting the 30 – 39, 40 – 49, and 50+ age groups in two in each category respectively, which creates the fields of 30 – 34, 35 – 39, 40 – 44,  45 – 49, 50 – 54, 55 – 59, and the new 60+.

Unfolding across more than 40 countries, the 2019 Spartan Global Championship Series features 14 National Series races leading to stand-alone championship events in five regions (North America, South America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East & Africa), paving the road to the 2019 World Championship powered by Rakuten in North Lake Tahoe, CA. Anyone can enter National Series events and the top 10 male and female elite and age group finishers from each unlock entry into their nearest championship. The final leaderboard for each series determines who earns spots at the World Championship via a “roll-down week,” starting with first place. Elite spots are scarce with just 600 total available (300 men and 300 women) and only 1000 for age groupers (200 per age group, 100 male and 100 female). For more information visit: Spartan.com.

Fans can catch the action of all Spartan US National Series races live on Facebook WATCH via the Spartan TV Page.

Each weekend also offers opportunities for athletes of all ages and skill levels to hit the race course with open heats at the varying distances of Spartan’s signature “Sprint,” “Super” and “Beast” race courses. Spartan Kids races are also offered at each venue for youth ages four to 13. To register and learn more visit Spartan.com.

The 2019 Spartan U.S. Championship Series is sponsored locally by Visit Jacksonville, Mobile Sports Authority, Snohomish County TPA and Sports Commission, BigBear.com. and Utah Tourism.

DATE

RACE

FORMAT

February 23

Jacksonville, FL

Super

March 16

Saraland, AL

Super

April 13

Snohomish, WA

Super

May 18

Big Bear, CA

Beast

July 20

Huntsville, UT

Super

Spartan events focus on sport and athleticism, pushing the bodies and minds of competitors to the limit across miles of unforgiving terrain while they conquer signature obstacles such as the Spear Throw, Bucket Brigade and Barbed Wire Crawl.

About Spartan

With more than 200 events across more than 40 countries on six continents, Spartan is the world’s largest obstacle race (OCR) and endurance brand. Providing transformation through sport, Spartan attracts more than one million annual participants across all fitness levels, from beginners to elite. More than five million participants have finished Spartan events, creating a lifestyle that extends beyond races including health and wellness products, training and nutrition programs, and popular media content, which has made OCR one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Spartan events feature races at various distances, Stadion and Sprint: 3-mile/5-km and 20 Obstacles; Super: 8-mi/13-km and 25 Obstacles; Beast: 13-mi/21-km and 30 Obstacles; and Ultra: 30-mi/50-km and 60 obstacles. Visit spartan.com for more information and registration.

 

 

Tough Mudder Stadium Race

Tough Mudder announced they are putting on a stadium race in the spring of 2019. The first event, affectionately titled “Tough Mudder’s Cousin In A Stadium” will take place an hour and a half northwest of London, in Northhampton, England. The event will be located at Franklin’s Gardens, home of The Northhampton Saints Rugby Club.

The original “Tough Mudder 5K” hoped to get new participants by removing fire, ice, and electricity from the “Classic” course. “5K Urban” takes it one step further by stating “The Tough Mudder 5K Urban series has no water or mud due to its city-based locations”. They do promise 5k (3.1 miles), 13 obstacles, and a brand new green headband.

Unlike a typical Tough Mudder weekend,  the “Stadium Urban 5K” will begin on Friday, and end on Saturday. The “Up Late” Friday evening waves will run from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, and Saturday heats will go from 8:30 am to 1:45 pm

Costs: Entrance – £42 ($52), Bag Drog – £3 ($3.78) which goes to charity, Spectators – Free

The Spartan Stadium series has been immensely successful over the last several years. Will we see similar success with Tough Mudder? Will the Tough Mudder Urban 5k make it’s way to the USA? Stay tuned, true believers.

Fun Fact: Once upon a time, Tough Mudder announced the first ever Urban Mudder. It was a 5-mile “no mud” event they called Tough Mudder’s Cousin in the City. We had a great time as you can see in the video below. 

New Warrior Dash Obstacles, Kids “Course”, and More.

The first Warrior Dash was near Chicago in 2009. Red Frog, the parent company of Warrior Dash, then took the event nationwide with 11 events in 2010. Raise your hand if one of those was your first ever OCR 🙋. 

Through the ups and downs of OCR, ever-changing tastes from consumers, the boom and bust of 2012-2014, distance/format experiments, and more, Warrior Dash has never wavered. They put on a 3.1 mud run with 10-12 obstacles and a giant party afterward. The event can be done by anyone. Including people who haven’t lifted a weight or run a mile since junior high. You will not see complicated rigs or be “challenged on the toughest day of your life”. They even got rid of timing in 2014.

As they launch their 10th full season, being clear on who they are and what they provide has worked well for Warrior Dash. Back at the end of 2015, we wrote that Warrior Dash had “shrunk” to 23 events. However, that same article listed The (Merrell/Subaru) Down and Dirty and BattleFrog as big players in the industry.

As the next season begins, Warrior Dash is still putting on 23 solid events a year, while Down and Dirty and BattleFrog were both out of business less than 9 months after that article was written.

Along with new obstacles, Warrior Dash is making some additional changes in 2019. 3 months ago, they told us about adding a 1-mile course and 2 loop option for 2019. Today’s press release also announced a fairlife® Kids Zone. Which isn’t quite a full “kids course”, but looks to bring a kid-friendly element to an otherwise adult based atmosphere of “Best Beard” and “Stein Standoff” contests. Time will tell if this brings in more new consumers, and/or brings back some of the old ones who haven’t done a Warrior Dash in a few years.

Here are the new 2019 Warrior Dash Obstacles.

El Capitan: Conquer ladders, cargo nets, and a 3-story slide on the Dash’s TALLEST OBSTACLE EVER. A gift for Warriors to celebrate our 10th Anniversary.

WarriorDashCapitan

Super Fly: Soar like a Warrior on a ZIP LINE OBSTACLE! Super Fly lets participants zip through the air like their favorite hero. What’s better than that?!

WarriorDashSuperFly

The Damn Dam: A warped wall with three different levels of difficulty.

Warrior Dash Obstacles Damn

The Warden’s Wall: A completely vertical net wall that participants climb up and over. Has three different heights levels of difficulty.

WarriorDashObstaclesWall

Splitsville:  Runners traverse balance beams suspended over water. Has varying levels of difficulty.

Warrior Dash Splitsville

 

LIVE COVERAGE by Obstacle Racing Media

2018 Spartan Iceland Coverage

24 Hour Spartan Iceland Live Tracking via Athlinks

Obstacle Racing Media – Facebook LinkInstagram (and Instagram Stories)

and of course on all of the Spartan Race channels.

2017 Spartan Iceland Coverage Video courtesy of Buffalo.

 

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