Albon chases last year's $1 million prize. Photo courtesy of Spartan.

As OCR continues to grow as a sport, the discussion around prize money for elite athletes becomes more prominent.

Today, Spartan entered the conversation with a bang.

Joe De Sena announced that Spartan would be offering $1 million in prize money to elite athletes competing in 2019 Spartan's World Championship Event Series. The prize money will be earned through a point system– Athletes can earn points at the Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe, the Trifecta World Championship in Greece, and the 24-hour Ultra World Championship in Sweden. Male athletes must score 98 points to take home $1 million and female athletes must score 78 points.

Spartan offered a similar purse last year, but the prize was left unclaimed after John Albon dropped out of the Spartan Ultra World Championships after just 10 hours. Spartan hopes the point system will allow more elite athletes to be eligible for the prize in 2019 and will pay out smaller prizes if no one takes home the $1 million.

Full Press Release:

BOSTON, MA (June 26, 2019) – Spartan CEO and Founder Joe De Sena today announced a $1 million prize, part of the largest purse in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) history, to elite athletes competing in Spartan’s three World Championship events in the 2019 season. This is the second consecutive year De Sena has offered the $1 million, as it went unanswered in 2018 when the UK’s Jon Albon fell short of the prize at the Spartan Ultra World Championship in Iceland. New to this year’s challenge is a point-based system that makes more athletes eligible for the top prize than in 2018. The payout model also offers up to $25,000 in bonus winnings after the $1 million is paid, or up to $50,000 if it remains unclaimed. A score of 98 is needed for a male to take home the $1 million and 78 for a female.

“Spartan is all about pushing athletes to levels they never thought possible and the $1 Million Challenge will test the limits of competitors across the globe,” said Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “We’re inviting athletes from all disciplines: OCR, swimming, hiking, biking, triathlon, and more to step out onto the Spartan race course and see if they have what it takes to walk away with the biggest prize in the sport’s history.”

The road to the $1 million kicks-off September 29 at the Spartan World Championship Powered By Rakuten in North Lake Tahoe, before moving to the three-race invitational Trifecta World Championship in Sparta, Greece. The finale will unfold at the 24-hour Spartan Ultra World Championship in its new home of Åre, Sweden, where the winner will need to complete more than 100-miles in the men’s category or 80-miles in the women’s category.

The new prize purse format pays bonuses to elite racers competing in the three major events based on a points system that subtracts the athletes’ finishing place in the World Championship and Trifecta World Championship from their total miles completed at the Ultra World Championship. SEE CHART BELOW. Cash prizes are also awarded to athletes competing in the gated age group categories.

Example: If a racer completes 100-miles in Sweden, places 1st at Tahoe, and 1st at Sparta they would earn 98 points. The math: 100-1-1=98.

In the event that more than one racer of any gender achieves the same payout threshold after competing in all three events, the payout is divided evenly among those athletes.

“Finishing the 2018 Ultra World Championships at more than 82-miles, Ryan Atkins proved that 100-miles is possible,” added De Sena. “While the competition is expected to be the toughest in the Spartan’s history, we’ve added the point-based bonus system to bring it to a whole new level that will create an unforgettable experience for athletes and fans alike.”

Spartan events focus on sport, athleticism and transformation, 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.

 To register and for more information on the Spartan $1 Million Challenge, visit

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