(Originally written for MudandObstacle.com)
Having the title of “Champion” before your name has a great ring to it. But having the title of “Two-Time Champion” before your name sounds even better.
That’s the title Quebec’s Claude Godbout can now enjoy after taking home her second Spartan World Championship in three years following an impressive performance in Killington, Vermont, on Saturday, September 20.
Godbout conquered an especially brutal Vermont Beast course, coming from behind and then holding off a strong challenge from second-place finisher Corinna Coffin to win the race with a time of 4:17. The course — which was billed as roughly 14 miles long, but most reports from racers wearing a GPS put the length at over 16 miles — featured repeated, agonizing climbs up 4,236-foot Killington Peak and a large number of grueling strength obstacles, including dual uphill bucket carries and sandbag carries.
Heading into the Beast, Godbout says she was happy with her pre-race preparation, but she still had doubts if she could even make the podium. Her strategy was vastly different from 2012, when she took the lead at the start of the race and ended up winning by nearly 20 minutes. This year, her strategy was to start slow and build toward a strong finish. And for much of the first half of the race, she says she was barely in the Top 10.
“Racers often try to do everything in the first two hours, but they forget that the race will last at least four hours,” says Godbout. “Patience is so important and worth it at the end.”
By the time she reached the second sandbag carry in the last third of the race, she found herself in second place, just behind Coffin. “At that point, the only thing on my mind was just ‘Corinna, Corinna, Corinna,” says Godbout. She caught and passed Coffin at the Tyrolean Traverse with roughly two miles to go in the race. At that point, exhausted, her legs cramping terribly, and Coffin right behind her, Godbout pushed for the end.
“I was exhausted as hell with all the heavy obstacles,” says Godbout. “The last mile definitely seemed like it was a never-ending course.”
With the win, Godbout cements her place as one of the best female obstacle racers on the planet. Since 2011, she’s participated in 17 obstacle races and won 15 of them. The ones she didn’t win were the 2011 Vermont Beast, where she finished second, and the 2013 Vermont Beast, where she finished third. This year she also won four gold medals out of four races at the Canadian Biathlon National Championships.
She credits her success in this year’s Beast to a change in training. Last year, she was training for Olympic biathlon competition. This year, she says, her training focused on obstacle racing, with lots of grip-strength work, burpees and plenty of running while carrying a sandbag or rock. She trains twice a day, an impressive feat considering she also works as a banquet bartender while pursuing a business degree.
She plans to stay busy racing. On Saturday, just a week after her epic performance at the Vermont Beast, she plans to do an obstacle race in Quebec City. After that, she has her sights set on the OCR World Championship in Ohio on October 25 and 26, and then she’ll kick-off her biathlon season with the Biathlon World Cup Trials in Alberta in mid-November.
She also has a race already penciled in for September 2015.
“You will most likely see me at the Spartan Race World Championship in 2015 to defend my title.”