Being a fast and nimble runner in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on the track is paying huge dividends in obstacle racing for Max King and Bridget Franek.
King and Franek, both elite American steeplechase runners, used their speed and agility to win the 2015 Warrior Dash World Championship on Oct. 10 in Pulaski, Tenn., and each took home a whopping $30,000 paycheck for their efforts.
The 2015 Warrior Dash World Championship, which had a $100,000 total prize purse, was held on a hilly, 4-mile course at Milky Way Farm. Competitors had to crawl through mud pits, run through water, climb ropes, get over makeshift walls, maneuver over wooden barriers, run trails and swing through cargo nets.
The championship field included only participants who placed in the top 25 of a Warrior Dash earlier in the year and the top three male and female finishers from last year’s world championship. Several of the top competitors in each race were national-class distance runners.
“Yeah, (having steeplechase experience) seems to be a prerequisite to running well at some of these events,” King said Tuesday. “This one was more of a course built for runners, with what I would call efficiency-based obstacles. You’re crawling under, through obstacles, over obstacles, so it was fast. There weren’t really any strength-based challenges. It helps to have upper body strength, of course, but it was really about running fast.”
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King, a 35-year-old resident of Bend, Ore., won the men’s elite race in 27 minutes, 52.45 seconds, which meant he earned more than $1,000 per minute for what might be the slowest 4-mile race of his life. (King averaged just under 7 minutes per mile.)
“It’s the biggest prize purse in any running event I’ve ever won by far, and it’s great to have it,” said King, a Salomon-sponsored athlete who repeated his win in the Warrior Dash World Championships from the 2014 event held in Esparta, Calif. “I don’t even see the money. It goes straight to my wife and into a bank account.”
King has also won the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships, the 2014 IAU 100K World Championships and numerous U.S. trail running titles in the past 10 years. He’s also been a competitive marathoner (2:14:36 PR, 19th at 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon), 3,000-meter steeplechase competitor (8:30.54 PR, 6th at 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials) and adventure racer during his career.
King outran fellow elite runners Joshua McAdams (28:21, $10,000), a 2008 U.S. Olympian in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Brett Hales (28:35, $5,000), a U.S. 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier, and top-tier obstacle course racer and 2:16 marathoner Hobie Call (28:41.70, $3,000) in what is believed to be the richest prize purse ever for such a short race.
Franek, 28, a 2012 U.S. Olympian in the 3,000-meter steeplechase from Eugene, Ore., was the women’s winner in 32:22, also taking home a $30,000 paycheck. She beat Kimber Mattox (32:48, $10,000), who recently represented the U.S. at the world mountain running chamoionship in Wales, K.K. Paul (35:10, $5,000) and Ali Morgan (36:03, $3,000), also a member of the U.S. mountain running team.
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