From the London Underground to the brink of history – how one Essex man came close to the $1m Spartan Trifecta prize

Few people outside of the running community had heard of him last month, but thanks to a remarkable season, Jonathan Albon’s name is recognised around the world for his racing exploits this year.

The 29-year-old obstacle course racer from Essex stood on the brink of history when he attempted to become the first winner of Spartan’s ‘Million Dollar Trifecta’ after winning the World Championship in North Lake Tahoe and the Trifecta World Championship in Sparta, Greece.

Although his bid fell short in the third and final Spartan Ultra World Championship race in Iceland, Albon remains the number one obstacle course racer in the world and can look back on his incredible season with an immense sense of pride.

Albon is down to earth and does not work with a coach, with the former building surveyor for the London Underground choosing to live a quiet life with his girlfriend in Bergen, Norway.

Prior to the race, he said: “Running is my job and I’m constantly having to weigh up which races I really want to run and which ones are going to make me enough money to continue living this lifestyle.

“If I were to win $1m, I’m not sure if I would go out and buy something immediately. In the long-term I’d look into buying a cabin in the mountains.”

Albon missed out on winning the $1m bonus, with his friend Ryan Atkins claiming the title after completing 83 miles of the gruelling obstacle course in just 24 hours.

Albon was gracious in defeat as usual and praised Canada’s Atkins as he crossed the finish line to bring an end to his Spartan season.

He said: “Sorry I didn’t do it, I’m not sure it’s possible anyway. If Ryan (Atkins) says it’s not possible then it’s not possible.”

Albon was referring to the clause that said he must complete 100 miles of the circuit in 24 hours to complete the Spartan Trifecta and claim the $1m bonus.

Albon continued: “This is the end of my season, I’m finished. (I’ve completed) six laps and I’m tired. Ryan’s got this, he’s a machine.

“I’ve had a good year and I want to go skiing next week!”

Albon’s story captured the world’s imagination and helped to promote obstacle course racing (OCR) as the sport continues to go from strength to strength.

The 24-hour Ultra World Championship was the final of three Trifecta events during the year set up by Spartan, the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand.

Spartan holds more than 200 events in more than 40 countries across the globe and Founder Joe De Sena praised Albon for his achievements.

He said: “Albon is an incredible athlete and if anyone was capable of winning the million, it’s him.

“The thrill of the chase for the largest purse in OCR history paired with the stiff competition and unforgiving conditions of the cold Icelandic winter created awesome drama on the course.”

It remains to be seen if the $1m prize can be won in the future although Atkins came close to proving that the 100-miles is possible.

De Sena has vowed to offer the $1 Million Challenge every year until someone takes it home and OCR has certainly benefited from Albon’s extraordinary effort as he continues to inspire adventure running enthusiasts across the world.