Turney takes third in Spartan mountain series in New Jersey

November 5, 2019

Taylor Turney is the new king of obstacle course racing in Alaska.

Turney, a 2013 graduate of Anchorage’s Service High School, wrapped up the 2019 Spartan Elite US Mountain Series in third place after taking eighth in the series-finale Saturday in New Jersey.

Turney follows in the footsteps of Matt Novakovich, who first put Alaskans on the obstacle-course racing map, and Chad Trammell, who excelled for several years before re-focusing on running-specific competitions.

Saturday’s nine-mile race included 3,000 feet of climbing on technical terrain and even some bushwhacking and took Turney 1 hour and 32 minutes.

“I love Spartan races for the rugged terrain and added challenge of completing obstacles,” said Turney, 25. “Training for these events encourages building a variety of skills from running to strength, to climbing which makes training incredibly fun!”

Obstacles vary from grip-based climbing rigs, to carrying sandbags and throwing spears.

Turney followed his mountain success with two races on Sunday — a sprint event and a Spartan Trail race. He placed second in each of them.

“I seem to have a habit of racing better on the second day for East Coast races,” Turney said by text.

Since May, Turney also competed at mountain series events in Montana, California, Pennsylvania, Colorado and British Columbia, finishing as high as second and never lower than 14th to achieve his series podium result, which earned him $800.

His Spartan racing profile includes 14 results in the top 5 in 29 races since 2015. He placed 18th at the 2018 Spartan World Championships and 23rd in 2019 in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

A big part of Turney’s success comes from his running ability: he possesses the speed and technical trail skills to excel in running races on a variety of surfaces and distances. This also helped him post the fastest downhill at the 2019 Mount Marathon Race, as he charged down the 3,000-foot mountain in 10 minutes and 1 second, just one second off the fastest known descent in history. Turney passed 15 runners on the descent and placed 18th overall.

Turney will take on a new challenge on Dec. 14, when he travels to Central California for his first Spartan Ultra race, a 50-kilometer course with 60 obstacles.

– By Alaska Sports Blog contributor Matias Saari