By Nathan Ham
Ryan Woods keeps making a name for himself on the Spartan racing circuit. The Boone native brought home the championship in the Men’s Elite Division in Chicago, June 23-24, finishing the grueling Spartan race in a little over an hour with a time of 1:03:52.
This is the second Spartan National Series race that Woods has won this year and if he finishes in fourth place or higher in the final race of the season, he will finish with the top spot overall in the U.S. National Series headed into the 2018 Spartan North American Championship and Spartan World Championship.
If you’ve never watched a Spartan race either in-person or on television, it’s hard to appreciate just how hard these races are. Competitors are challenged with numerous tasks like carrying sand bags, barbed wire crawls, running and jumping over walls and many other obstacles all over several miles of running across different terrains.
“It’s kind of like a full-body fitness workout,” Woods said. “I saw it on television a few years back and thought I could be pretty good at that.”
Woods is no stranger to competition or success. He won a state championship running cross country at Watauga High School in 1996 before walking on to the cross country team at N.C. State and eventually becoming an All-American runner.
Woods, who he has been competing in these Spartan races for about three years, says he works about 20 to 25 hours a week as a chiropractor at Marathon Chiropractic Clinic and then spends about 12 hours a week working out and training for these races.
“I will run about 60 or 70 miles a week,” he added.
Other workouts that Ryan uses to prepare for the events include climbing, heavy lifting, high intensity interval training (similar to a cross fit workout) and running for a half-mile to a mile as hard as he can while carrying sandbags.
The competition in these national series races is some of the best that the sport has to offer throughout the country. Typically as many as 10,000 racers will take on the Spartan challenge with different levels of skill from elite down to open classes and age-specific classes.
Next up, Woods and the rest of the U.S. National Series runners will go to Eden, Utah on July 28, where the U.S. champions will be crowned based on cumulative series ranking points.
The 2018 Spartan North American Championship will happen on Aug. 25 in West Virginia and the 2018 World Championship in North Lake Tahoe on Sept. 29.
The 2018 Spartan World Championship, the pinnacle event of the obstacle racing season featuring a field of elite athletes from more than 50 countries around the world battling it out over a 12+ mile (20+ kilometer) “Beast” race.
To qualify for the world championship heat, competitors must finish top 10 in a Spartan National Series event or a Regional Championship anywhere in the world during the 2018 qualifying season. Woods has already guaranteed his spot in the world championship.