With a prize purse of $120,000, the Spartan World Championships attracts elite athletes from around the globe. These professional obstacle course racers put on an exciting show of speed, power, and endurance over 13 miles. But they can't outshine the inspiring stories of everyday Spartans who conquer the championship course in the Open category. These are the real stories from the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe.
4 Relatable People Conquering the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe
These four Spartans are, in a word, relatable. They're not racing for the podium; they just really want to make it to that finish line. Their grit is inspiring and we can't wait to cheer them on at the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe on September 29.
Emily Workman, 25, Arizona
Emily Workman ran her first Spartan race in 2013. From that point on, she knew she had found something special, she says. Now, her goal for 2020 is to get 20 friends to complete their first Trifecta.
"Back in 2017, I made my first trip to Lake Tahoe for the World Championship Beast and it was hands down the greatest experience of my life," said Workman. "We spent a week exploring the venue and all the fun festival activities. It was a week full of outdoor adventures, geeking out to all the awesome Spartan events, and running the most meaningful race in my life.
"I went back to Lake Tahoe for the 2018 Championships, and while the cold wind made me unable to conquer the challenging swim again, it was an experience I will never forget! I have already signed up for the Open category in Lake Tahoe to face the 2019 World Championship Beast and earn another Trifecta!"
Paul White, 42, Utah
Now 50 pounds lighter, Paul White races to prove to himself that he is strong. And this September, he'll try to prove it again over 13 miles of obstacles at the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe.
"This world can be tough," White said. "Life is a challenge. But I know I can do whatever I set my mind to. I will never be a Ryan Atkins, but I’m not racing against him. I don’t really care what others around me are doing. I’m not racing them. I race against myself. I race against the mountain. I race against quitting. I race against my personal weakness. I race because I like how it feels to crush an obstacle. I race because I know what it’s like to fail an obstacle and want another shot at it!
"I’m racing against the person I don’t ever want to be again. I race because I love the feeling of coming across that finish line knowing I just did something difficult! So bring on the Beast! Bring on Lake Tahoe! Bring on the challenge! And if you happen to pass this 42-year-old man on the course, give me a wave and a shout of encouragement and I’ll do the same for you! For I am Spartan!"
Sarah Flores, 38, California
Sarah Flores says she grew up as a chubby kid and grew into an overweight adult. She used to look at people doing physical activities and say to herself, "I could never do that." At the age of 34, she decided to make a major change. She tried out a lot of fun, new activities but nothing stuck — until she ran her first Spartan in 2017. And this year, she's coming back to the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe.
"I knew immediately upon finishing the Monterey Super in 2017 that I wanted to try for a Trifecta in 2018, which meant I had to run a Beast," said Flores. "I've never attempted to do anything quite like the Tahoe Beast before in my life and I was absolutely terrified when I signed up. I spent the next nine months researching gear, foods for fuel, dedicating myself to a five-day-a-week workout routine, and trying to mentally prepare myself for Tahoe 2018.
"I was fully preparing myself to DNF (Did Not Finish), not knowing if I had it in me to complete a 13-mile race. I told myself, 'No matter what happened, even if I failed, at least I tried and pushed myself as far as I could, and that I could always try again next year after more training.' When I managed to not only complete that freezing swim, but finish in 7 hours, 49 minutes, I finally quieted all the self-doubt and anxiety [and knew] I could truly do anything I set my mind to.
"Coming out to Tahoe again this year, and doing the Beast for the second time, means I get to prove to myself again that hard work and dedication pays off."
Michael Tran, 31, Texas
When Michael Tran graduated from college, he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He was unemployed and uninspired. One day while searching for jobs and post-grad programs online, he saw a Spartan advertisement. He signed up for his first race in 2012.
"At that moment in time, my lifestyle started to change," said Tran. "I became more active, ate healthier, and had goals in life, like setting up to a career in physical therapy. With determination, hope, and motivation, I got accepted into school [for physical therapy] on my first attempt. I learned that life has ups and downs, but with determination and no quit, you will overcome any obstacles and set yourself up to a path of success.
"Last year, I ran my first Spartan World Championships in Tahoe and placed 311th out of 4,375 racers. This year, I am running again to prove to myself, my family, and my friends that the motivation is still there and will continue to light the fire that's within me. Anybody can be somebody with the right motivation. Spartan Race, you were my motivation. I look forward to the race and will be locked in!"