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Virtual Spartan races sound really hard

The Unbreakable 24 was the first 24-hour virtual Spartan competition, and it sounds exhausting

Amelia Boone

Over the weekend, the first 24-hour virtual Spartan competition was held, and over 700 competitors from 32 countries tried to survive 24 hours of brutal challenges and tests of fitness. Over the course of the competition—which was called The Unbreakable 24 and broadcast over Zoom and on YouTube—athlete after athlete dropped out, until only four remained. Those final few competitors made it through the full 24 hours and shared the victory, winning free Spartan race entries for life as a prize. Spartan races are gruelling competitions that require strength, endurance and mental toughness, but this virtual event sounds like it might have been even harder than a normal Spartan race.

How the competition worked

The over 700 Spartan athletes logged into Zoom on the day of the event and got to work. If their Zoom feed cut out for more than 10 minutes over the course of the 24-hour event, they were disqualified. In regular Spartan events, there’s a fair bit of running involved, so for the virtual competition, the athletes has to run or complete the cardio equivalent of 86K (meaning they could use rowing machines or spin bikes).

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In addition to the cardio component, the competitors had to complete dozens of challenges, some physical, some mental and some downright weird. For the physical tests, they had to complete burpees, planks, push-ups and more classic exercises (at one point the athletes had to do 60 minutes straight of these exercises without rest).

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Amelia Boone

Mental challenges included completing crossword puzzles while holding handstands and making paper airplanes while blindfolded. As for the weird challenges, at one point, the athletes had to perform more burpees. Every time they hit the floor for the push-up, though, they had to take a bite of a raw onion before jumping back up for the next burpee rep.

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The final results

Canadian Morgan McKay competed in the Unbreakable 24, but she dropped out during the crosswords and handstands challenge, over 22 hours into the event. McKay won the 2017 Spartan Ultra World Championship, and she owns the Guinness World Record for fastest 10K while carrying 100 pounds (which she set in 1:34:46 at the 2018 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend). She also competed at the 2019 Barkley Marathons.

McKay at the 2018 Ottawa Race Weekend

The last four athletes standing on the weekend were Americans Katie Falkowski, Donna Boots and Michael Covino, and Euan Campbell of Australia.