British en­durance ath­lete chases $1 mil. bonus prize

The Korea Times - - SPORTS - LON­DON (AFP)

— British en­durance ath­lete Jonathan Al­bon could be $1 mil­lion richer by Sun­day — all he has to do is win a 24-hour race, cover at least 100 miles and con­quer dozens of ob­sta­cles.

The 29-year-old, who lives in Nor­way, has a shot at the huge cash bonus af­ter win­ning the Spar­tan World Cham­pi­onship in the United States and the Spar­tan Tri­fecta World Cham­pi­onship in Greece.

That leaves the Spar­tan Ul­tra World Cham­pi­onship in Ice­land, which is a 24-hour mul­ti­ple-lap event.

The win­ner is the ath­lete who runs the most com­plete laps within the time limit.

To be el­i­gi­ble for the Spar­tan $1 mil­lion Tri­fecta, the win­ner must also com­plete 100 miles (161 kilo­me­ters) or more.

In or­der to qual­ify to race in win­try Ice­land, Al­bon was re­quired to com­plete a 50-kilo­me­tre Spar­tan Ul­tra in less than 10 hours — and he opted to do that in Malaysia last week­end be­fore dash­ing back to Europe.

Al­bon is now about to swap the “sauna-like heat” of Malaysia for po­ten­tially freez­ing con­di­tions in Ice­land.

He is not so con­cerned about that — he is al­lowed to come in briefly af­ter each lap to stock up on equip­ment and food — but the per­for­mance of last year’s win­ner does not fill him with con­fi­dence.

“The odds are stacked against me,” he told AFP. “Last year’s win­ner man­aged 71 miles.”

And he con­cedes he may not even fin­ish the race on un­du­lat­ing ter­rain fea­tur­ing ob­sta­cles with fear­some names such as In­verted Wall, Barbed Wire Crawl and Spear Throw.

“It’s not go­ing to be quite a walk in the park but I want to do my­self jus­tice,” he said.

“If I feel I can’t run the 100 miles in the 24 hours I will pull up as I have made enough money this year. I have noth­ing to prove and I want to en­joy the off-sea­son and go ski­ing.”

The British run­ner says get­ting through the first half of the race is the tough­est bit.

“It is al­ways more dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing,” he said by phone from Ber­gen while sit­ting on an over­flow­ing suit­case as he has to be pre­pared for any­thing the Ice­land cli­mate can throw at him.

“You are more likely to be doubt­ing your­self in that part of the race. Once you have passed the 12-hour mark you are half­way there and it be­comes eas­ier.”

The for­mer build­ing sur­veyor for the Lon­don Un­der­ground said the race will be un­like any­thing he has en­coun­tered be­fore.

“This is largely due to the 30 burpees (squat thrusts) you are pe­nalised for miss­ing an ob­sta­cle,” he said.

“Nor­mally you do those at that par­tic­u­lar ob­sta­cle but for this race they are added up and you do them at the end of that lap,” he said.

Mak­ing things even more chal­leng­ing is that not all the ob­sta­cles are lit.

“The most chal­leng­ing thing is us­ing the head­lamp — it gives you a headache,” he said. “Although that could be eas­ily cured by win­ning the bonus.”

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