Canadian OCR champ Faye Stenning in Million Dollar Mile
New CBS-TV show is produced by Lebron James
The concept is part OCR and part reality-TV craziness. In Milion Dollar Mile, which is hosted by former NFL football player Tim Tebow, competitors are paired up one-on-one with the professional “defenders,” for a race. After a headstart, each challenger banks a certain amount of money after each obstacle the arrive at before the defender catches them up to a million dollars. When they are ready to cash out, they have to complete the final exit obstacle: climbing up the side of a skyscraper before the defender. No big deal.
“It was completely different, it wasn’t anything I was used to at all,” says Stenning. “It was a short course, obstacle heavy and required different skills like balance, agility, risk-taking. And then the skyscraper, the exit obstacle, is this massive building and you climb up the rope, basically scaling it, in a race to top. And at that point, you are zip-lined down.”
Stenning is one of the 10 athletes that make up the defenders crew alongside some highly decorated OCR athletes such as Isaiah Vidal and professional triathlete Max Fennell.
“Most of the people on the show, the defenders, are all professional athletes mainly,” says Stenning, who filmed the show in San Diego, California back in November. “They’re all pretty elite in their fields. And the runners on the show just sort of vary from regular gym goers to perhaps those who played a pro sport once in their life at some point.”
Stenning is a professional OCR athlete who races the Spartan series and is one of the top competitors in the world. She was ranked number one in global rankings for Spartan Racing in 2016 and placed second in 2016 and 2018 in the Spartan U.S. Championships.
“It was an awesome experience, the defenders are mostly friends I know from OCR, or into shorter-style TMX, some cross-fitters, parkour athletes, triathletes,” she says. “It was amazing being with a group of athletes that were so skilled and specialized. We could all teach each other something and it was fun to pick on each other.”
When the producers started casting the show, they got in touch with her.
“I was just asked to apply for the show, they thought I would be a good fit,” she says. “I had to go to a combine, to perform and they tested everything from my mile time, to cross fit, to swimming.”
Although she can’t name how many butts she kicked since the show, we can only assume that she came by the Canadian Crusher name honestly.
Stenning grew up in Calgary and was a highly decorated runner in her youth through elementary school and high school.
“In high school, I was quite good,” says Stenning. “I was the best in Canada for my age for the 3,000-metre track event. I had a lot of early success at quite a young age and then joined the University of Calgary Dinos track and cross-country team. I was all-Canadian, but my times weren’t progressing how I’d hoped.”
After she graduated, she took a break from running, and only stumbled into obstacle racing before her ex-boyfriend wanted to try it out. And, yes, she crushed it.
“The first race was in Red Deer, and I ended up winning by 20 minutes and I thought it was so stupid and there were no athletes in it,” she says. “But my ex really wanted to keep doing it, and I could basically win prize money and enter any race in Canada and win it.”
Then, as her reputations as some sort of Alberta super athlete was cemented, she went south of the border to find some competition.
“I went down there, and said alright here are the real athletes,” says Stenning. “The sport gained more respect from me, and a couple of times I wasn’t even on the podium, and I was like what the heck?”
As Stenning’s OCR dominance grew, so did the popularity of the sport with major TV networks like NBC and ESPN broadcasting the American Spartan series.
Stenning was picked up by the Reebok Spartan pro team, and in 2017, thanks to sponsorships and prize money, she was able to quit her corporate job back in Calgary and compete full-time as a professional OCR athlete.
The sport has gotten so big that there is already a movement afoot to pitch the International Olympic Committee on including it in the Olympic Games.
Stenning thinks the meteoric rise of the sport has something to do with its ease of entry, and it’s fun and social side.
“It’s a sport that people can do if they run the course in an hour or walk it in 10 hours,” she says. “Participation rates are huge; everyone is trying to get off the couch and be active.”
For those looking to get into the sport, Stenning says it’s key to have a good running base and to find your tribe.
“A strong running base would be number one, and seek out experts to help with strength training that is specific to the obstacles and the type of tasks you’ll be doing in a race,” she says. “And enter that first race for fun with a social group that you can travel with and make it more fun than anything. It’s such a social sport, and making it fun first is key.”
Watch the Canadian Crusher Faye Stenning on CBS-TV’s Million Dollar Mile.