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Bradford girl, 13, wins ‘extreme sport’ Spartan Kids world championship

First annual event hosted in the U.S. involves a nearly five-kilometre, double-lap course with more than 40 obstacles

At just 13 years old, Avery Steyn may be the youngest world champion from Bradford West Gwillimbury.

The Grade 8 student recently competed in the Spartan Kids World Championship Race in Laughlin, Nev., and she won first place in the girls division, beating out dozens of competitors ages 10 to 13 from around the world.

“I was against really good runners. It was really hot in the desert, too,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to win. I just wanted to make Top 10. I was really surprised.”

The timed race on Nov. 17 included a nearly five-kilometre, double-lap course with more than 40 obstacles, with course marshals and video filming along the way.

Some of the obstacles included running uphill while participants carried sandbags on their shoulders, climbing up ropes, and the Hercules Pull, which involves pulling on a rope to raise a sandbag.

If a participant fails an obstacle, they must complete 15 burpees. If they cheat or do not complete the burpees, time can be added to their score, said Avery.

“There were some obstacles that were pretty high. I had trouble getting on them, but I still did it,” she said.

Spartan filmed the competition and posted a Facebook video, which features Avery around the 1:14 mark. At around 1:28, the announcers focus solely on her in her final moments before winning the race.

While some Spartan competitors train for races, Avery said that is not her style. Instead, she works out at a gym, does CrossFit, and plays hockey with the Aurora Panthers.

She got into Spartan races after her brother started doing similar ones organized by Mud Hero.

She said she started doing several of the local Spartan races and caught the attention of the organization because she kept winning.

She qualified in several local races to participate in the world championships, and Spartan sponsored her.

Another Spartan video shows some of the action from the world championships more close up, with Avery featured near the end as winner of the girls’ division. Along with the title, Avery also won prizes such as a gaming laptop, headphones, and sunglasses.

Avery has started competing in some upper-level Spartan competitions for young adults, and she hopes to one day make her way into the elite group of Spartan’s women competitors, which is the highest ranking group.

She plans to compete in next year’s world championship because she will still be 13 years old, but she will start competing more in adult races after that.

“I like the challenge,” she said.

Avery’s mom, Nadia Steyn, said the “extreme sport” of Spartan racing is still blooming in Canada, but it is huge in the United States.

She said many of the competitors showed up with trainers, but Avery just had her parents, Nadia and Michael.

“(It was) unbelievable. We didn’t realize what the competition would be like. The competition looked tough. The girls were tall,” Nadia said, adding Avery was in fourth place early in the race before moving into first place during the second lap.

“We were blown away by her stamina. Just proud, beyond proud.”