Canadians Ryan Atkins and his wife Lindsey Webster have been crowned the Spartan World Champions in the elite categories for men and women respectively. The event was held yesterday, Friday, December 3, in the Liwa Desert, Moreeb Hill, in the Al Dhafra region, organized by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council in partnership with the Spartan World Foundation for the first time outside the USA in the Middle East.
The first day of the Spartan World Championships in Abu Dhabi witnessed fierce competition between the elite athletes in the men’s and women’s categories, each having to overcome a variety of obstacles and barriers.
Canadian Ryan Atkins won the Men's Elite Challenge title by taking first place after completing the 21 km hurdles in two hours, 30 minutes and 38 seconds, marking his first time taking the world title after being runner-up five previous times.
Atkins beat Russian Sergei Perelgin, who finished second, 32 seconds behind the champion, and former two-time world champion Jonathan Albon, who came in third.
In the women’s category, Lindsey Webster won the title for the third time in her history after winning the World Championships in 2017 and 2018, achieving first place with a time of two hours 38 minutes and 52 seconds. American newcomer Annie Dube came in second, two minutes and 28 seconds behind the first place winner while Russian European champion Alisa Petrova placed third.
His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, Secretary-General of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Joe De Sina, founder of Spartan International, and Suhail Al Arifi, Executive Director of the Events Sector at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, crowned the winners of the first three places in the elite challenges for men and women.
The World Spartan Championship in Abu Dhabi displayed a range of difficult challenges, as the participants in the two elite races crossed more than 30 hurdles in an atmosphere full of determination.
The championship also attracted a wide community participation in the evening Super Night Race, which was held for a distance of 10 km as part of the first day’s program. A large number of students from Abu Dhabi schools were also keen to participate in the children’s races for a distance of two miles and a mile and a half.
In addition to the competitions, the participants and spectators were able to enjoy the artistic and musical performances held in the village on the night of the event, as well as fireworks displays that lit up the Liwa desert sky.
Aref Hamad Al Awani, Secretary-General of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: "We are proud of the great international participation in the elite men's and women's competitions in the championship, which is being held for the first time in the region."
Al-Awani congratulated the winners of the first day’s competitions, which drew the participation of the best athletes in the world in the Spartan Championship, and expressed his happiness with the success of the launch of the prestigious event, especially as it was conducted alongside the country’s celebrations of the fiftieth National Day. A wonderful festive atmosphere has confirmed the position of the UAE and Abu Dhabi as the capital of world sports.
Commenting on his victory in the championship, Ryan Atkins said: “I am thrilled to win the Spartan World Championship after years of competition in which I finished second in 5 editions. The title came with my first participation in Abu Dhabi despite the fierce competition from the other elite athletes.”
He added, "I take the opportunity to congratulate the UAE on the fiftieth National Day, as the celebrations added a wonderful atmosphere to the championship, before the start of the competitions until the final moments, and I hope that the Spartan World Championship will continue for years to come in Abu Dhabi."
In turn, his wife, Lindsey Webster, the women’s world champion, expressed her happiness at winning the title for the third time in its history, stressing that the obstacles and barriers during the race between the sand dunes raised the level of competition and excitement among the participants. She noted that the desert atmosphere in Abu Dhabi was more than wonderful: “I did not expect it to be. The tournament is so strong, even though it's being held for the first time outside the USA.”