Richmond resident Emma Chapman, teacher at Berea Independent Schools, is not your run-of-the-mill health teacher.

Originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, Chapman has played on their national soccer team and qualified for the World Cup.

Later on, she was recruited to play soccer at Marshall University in West Virginia, where she met her now husband. The couple opened a CrossFit gym in western Kentucky, and nestled in Richmond around 2015.

Since that time, she has become the 2018 Obstacle Course World Champion, a three-time CrossFit regional athlete and is the reigning Tough Mudder X World Champion.

After not continuing to play soccer, Chapman began to get into CrossFit, and it was a couple years later that she started to get into it competitively.

This past June, she had the opportunity to compete in the Tough Mudder X race in Richmond, Virginia. This race is an obstacle course race that is about a mile long, according to Chapman. When she won, she was invited to try out for a new show on CBS called "The Million Dollar Mile."

The show, produced by Lebron James and hosted by Tim Tebow, is a reality game show in which contestants compete through a mile long course with six different obstacles in the hopes of making it to the $1 million marker. All the while, the contestant is being chased by a world class athlete.

That's where Chapman comes in. Her role in the show is a defender of the $1 million cash prize, racing alongside the contestant to try and stop them from reaching it.

She, along with nine other defenders, arrived in Los Angeles to try out for the show by participating in three tests that include an obstacle course, climbing wall and swimming test.

The three tests also help determine the rank of which contestants would be better suited with each defender during the show, as the contestants were also administered the same tests.

Of the defenders, the athletes are from different genres and from all over the world. Some include spartan elite racers or parkour champions, to name a few. Chapman is considered the token obstacle race athlete.

"My job is to defend the million dollars," she said. "So we, at all costs, had to stop them from getting the million dollars … There is a lot of pressure on us because we have to defend the money. You know, I compete often, but now, it is like you have to defend something. Normally if I am competing and I lose, I lose. But now there was that pressure that was like, well if you lose, you have just given away a million dollars."

At the start of the race, a contestant and a defender are on stage together. Then, Tebow releases the contestant, who gets a two minute head start to get that much closer to completing the first obstacle.

"Two minutes is a long time," Chapman said. "Even we as defenders were like, that is a huge lead. For us to make up a two minute deficit, that is a lot of work."

According to her, contestants have to complete five obstacles, each with higher cash prizes than the last, that they go through before they can get to the million dollar prize, all while a defender is close behind.

"You are trying to get through these obstacles, but you are also having to be conscious of where I'm at," she said.

Once contestants complete an obstacle, they go back to an area that is called the hub, and they can then decide whether or not they want to keep the money from that obstacle or try to go on to the million dollar prize.

Defenders can have no physical contact, or interfere with the contestant in anyway.

Even if contestants do decide to claim their obstacle prize early, they have to complete an exit obstacle that consists of climbing a 15-story building with a rope, zip line from the building and sprint on stage to hit their buzzer.

"There were people who won some money, I will tell you that," she said.

Chapman said that defending on the show was a complete adrenaline rush for her, in big part, due to the audience's desire to see the defenders fail.

"We were not liked by the audience, because everyone was rooting for the contestants," Chapman explained. "Originally, you know, I think they had planned on the contestants being like, 'Who are these people, they have nothing on me, I'm going to beat them' kind of thing, but it wasn't like that at all.

"It was people coming on saying, 'Oh I need the money to build an orphanage in Africa," she said. "So here I am talking smack, and these poor people are like, 'Well I need the money to help my mom have surgery,' kind of thing, so the audience grew to hate us. If anything, they were all for the contestants winning and for us losing, and it kind of fueled me honestly."

As far as the ability of the contestants, Chapman said she believes some of them could have easily been marked defenders, and often times, the contestants could give defenders a run for their money.

"We had the opportunity to look them up before races, but they are legit athletes, some of them could have been defenders," she said. "Some of them you actually had to work to beat, they were good … It was like any competition as soon as that countdown of 10 seconds starts, I just switch into game mode, and honestly, some of the races I can't even recall what happened because I was just in it."

All in all, the tryout and filming process took three weeks total, with three 12-hour consecutive work days shooting from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., have a few rest days and then another three days of filming.

Chapman said that having never worked a night or third shift before, the camaraderie of the other defenders was what kept them all going.

"They are a really cool group of people, and they are amazing athletes," she said. "It was an absolutely amazing opportunity to work alongside these individuals. We all got along really well, and it was a lot of fun."

Amongst her fellow defenders, Chapman said, she did not believe that anyone else held a full-time job as well.

"Even in the CrossFit competing world, people normally do it full time," she explained. "Fortunately enough, I have a principal at my school who is very supportive, and I was able to get two weeks off work to do it. Just the whole faculty, and the kids, they are so pumped about the show, they can't wait to see it."

Chapman explained while you can do CrossFit full time and make money, her true passion is her teaching.

"It is definitely a passion, and it's something I have wanted to do since middle school," she said. "It is also a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks. I love teaching, and I really do love my job and my students."

Chapman plans to watch the shows air at an event room in Gillum's Sports Bar along with her fellow crossfitters and coworkers from the school. She hopes her family, who lives in Australia, will be able to watch the show's premiere online.

"The Million Dollar Mile" will air Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBS. Chapman will be in the first episode as a defender.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

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