Will Dean “steps back” from CEO role at Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder sent out a press release this morning stating they are splitting the company into 2 separate entities. The Tough Mudder Boot Camp, launched late last year, will be one company, and the “events company” will be the other. TMHQ announced they are “in the process of securing capital investment…in order to allow both businesses to more successfully navigate their respective categories”.

In a letter to the company posted on Tough Mudder’s website, Will Dean wrote he is not stepping away completely but that his role at TM, but will be that of “Chairman”. Don Baxter, who has been with Tough Mudder since 2012, and has been COO since May of 2016 will continue to head the Tough Mudder “events side”. Cathrin Bowtell, listed on LinkedIN as SVP of Tough Mudder Bootcamp, will lead the day to day for the “gym business”.

Dean went on to say that he has spent the last 3-4 years traveling back and forth between NYC  and his native United Kingdom. He wrote that “The constant jet lag wears you down and I have spent too too much time apart from the people I love in recent years”. (Dean’s 2nd child was born in June).

The post goes on to say “I am now working on a new venture here in London in an entirely new and unrelated space to Tough Mudder – expect further details next year.” That new and unrelated space is a company called Immersive Games Lab. Which the company’s website states is “part indoor-theme-park, part video game part escape room”. Will hopes to launch a new category the same way he launched one back in 2010 with Tough Mudder.

The complete press release is below along with a link to Dean’s blog post to “The Tough Mudder Tribe”.

Tough Mudder Founder End of Season letter to the Tough Mudder Tribe.

TOUGH MUDDER SPINS OFF THRIVING GYM BUSINESS INTO SEPARATE ENTERPRISE

Move Positions Company for Continued Growth Heading into 2019

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK (November 9, 2018) – Tough Mudder, Inc. founder and CEO Will Dean announced today that the company is in the process of securing capital investment, setting the stage for continued growth in 2019. As part of this, the company will spin off its thriving new fitness business, Tough Mudder Bootcamp, into a separate business enterprise from its traditional live event business in order to allow both businesses to more successfully navigate their respective categories.

Dean will continue to head the Bootcamp business while also supporting the live event side. Both businesses will remain privately held.

“This is absolutely the right strategic move for both businesses,” said Dean, who launched Tough Mudder in 2010. “Tough Mudder Bootcamp, with its fast-paced growth and high potential, will see the benefits of this capital infusion as we add franchising-specific talent to support the rapid growth, as well as creative license to capture its full potential. The live event business needs more diligent focus on cost and the kind of scaling benefits that come from being part of an event bundle.”

Dean also emphasized that all elements originally included as part of the Tough Mudder Bootcamp franchise business remain in place for owners, including the perpetual rights to all Tough Mudder branding; the ability to market directly to Tough Mudder event customers; the right to activate for free at all Tough Mudder events, and the right to sell Tough Mudder live event tickets, among other elements.

“Ultimately, this move will allow us the platform we’ve built in Tough Mudder Bootcamp to continue to build on the fantastic momentum already being generated, while we reinforce the strength of the live events and maintain their success with an infusion of new ideas,” said Dean.

The Tough Mudder Bootcamp fitness business saw record-breaking demand from prospective business owners in its first year of commercialization with nearly 60 units sold, numerous domestic markets already selling out and continuous international demand coming from investors. The business has opened its first two locations and is gearing up to open its third, in Houston, Texas currently.

The Tough Mudder event business saw significant participation growth in 2018, driven in large part by the success of its new, shorter distance Tough Mudder 5K events. The brand has also continued to invest in new and more challenging obstacles as part of its courses, and this week announced 10 new obstacles for its 2019 schedule.

This year, Tough Mudder, Inc. and its licensees hosted an unprecedented 150+ events across nearly a dozen countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Canada and two new countries, South Africa and the Philippines, welcoming participants worldwide into a global community that embraces courage, personal accomplishment, teamwork and fun.

About Tough Mudder, Inc.
Founded in 2010 with the launch of the Tough Mudder obstacle course event series, Tough Mudder Inc. has become a leading global sports, active lifestyle and media brand. With more than 3 million participants, the company hosts more than 150+ events featuring non-competitive (Mini Mudder; Tough Mudder 5K, Tough Mudder Half, and Tough Mudder Full) and competitive (Tougher, Toughest, Tough Mudder X and World’s Toughest Mudder) offerings annually in nearly a dozen countries including The United Kingdom, The United States, Germany, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Canada, South Africa, the Philippines, Oman and more through its partnerships with IMG, Invictus Events, Pro Active, Let’s Run Ireland and Sports Media and Entertainment 360 (SME360). The company’s content arm provides the millions of engaged online brand enthusiasts with fitness, nutrition and wellness content delivered daily across social and digital platforms. Tough Mudder broadcast, OTT and Live Stream programming can be seen worldwide through partnerships with CBS Sports, Facebook, Sky Sports, The CW Network and ESPN Media Distribution. Other sponsorship and distribution partners include CELSIUS, Merrell, KILL CLIFF, Soap & Glory, Guinness, Jack Link’s, BrewDog, Samsung, Lucozade Sport, Trek, Toyo Tires, Kingstone Press, Black Tower, Strandgut, Snapchat and Live Stream.

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Mudder’s Guide to WTM 2018 aka Some Things To Know About The ATL

Let’s get this out of the way first. It’s Atlanta, ATL, The ATL, A-Town, The Big A, The A, or d’ A.

People who live in San Francisco, don’t appreciate “Frisco”. People in Boston, do not call it “Beantown”. “. So yeah, no one here likes “Hot-Lanta”, so just leave that shit at home.

Getting A Room

Believe it or not, you can still get a room relatively close to the venue. This link provides a direct google map link to the road that gets you to the World’s Toughest Mudder entrance.

World's Toughest Mudder Hotel

Getting Around

MARTA – It’s not so Smarta. If you are staying downtown, you can take MARTA straight from the airport to your hotel. Outside of that, Atlanta does not have a killer transit system like most major cities. Renting a car is going to be best, especially if you plan on hitting various places outside the city.

RideShare – If you can not afford a rental, some ride-share applications can easily be downloaded and can get you around town. Here are the links for car sharing services Lyft, and Uber.

If you want to ride those little scooters around town, you can download Bird, and Lime.

If you are really short on cash, and really need a ride to the venue for World’s Toughest Mudder. Just ask in the World’s Toughest Mudder Community, as I am sure there is someone staying near you.

ITP/OTP

Speaking of which Atlanta is broken up into 2 separate but equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. Sorry, that’s not it.

I meant to say ITP- inside the perimeter, in-town stuff. and OTP – outside the perimeter, out in the suburbs stuff.

So in this case, if you are only staying in town, you are fine without a rental car. If you plan on heading OTP, you will absolutely need a car.

Places To Run/Hike

Sweetwater

My favorite trails to run locally are at Sweetwater State Park. It’s only $5.00 to enter. Drive all the way to the back to park. You’ll pay at the gate or at the visitor’s center. (they take credit/debit)

For a nice run, take the 5 mile white loop around and/or the shorter 3 mile yellow loop. You can also just have a nice walk, and walk back in any direction. Here is the Strava for the white and the yellow trails.

Stone Mountain

2nd favorite. I take the Cherokee Trail which is around 5 miles. You can do that and/or just walk up the mountain. I like to go for a nice job around, then walk up and back down. You can also run down at top speed for extra fun! $15 to enter.

World's Toughest Mudder Stone Mountain

Me and my kids at the top of Stone Mountain

Piedmont Park

Atlanta’s own version of central park. If you are staying in town, Piedmont Park is a quick uber away. You can run for a few miles around the park, if you don’t mind running on concrete.

Kennesaw Mountain

I don’t go to Kennesaw near as much. Ask Justin Rose or J.D. Allen though, they go there a lot.

Outdoor OCR training facility.

OCR King Compound – Out of the way if near downtown or airport, may be closer if you are at a hotel near World’s Toughest Mudder venue. Awesome obstacles built literally in someone’s side yard and back woods. Run by fellow WTMers Justin Rose, and Cody and Chrissy King and other OCR peeps. It’s a MUST see for OCR fans if you are here for a day in advance, or a few days after. Watch this video. Then, message them on Facebook to set up an appointment.

Places to Ninja/Rock Climb

-Rock

I am not a rock climber, but I know that a lot of people go to Stone Summit and speak well of it.

You can also try Atlanta Rocks or Wall Crawler.

-Ninja

NinjaKour is run by an OCR dude/Ninja we like a lot named “Doc Ninja” Pruni. It’s also where the Thursday night community fundraiser is.

The other two ninja places that people speak highly of are Ninja Quest and Slingshot/Nitro Zone

Places to walk around/shop/eat

The East Side BeltLine. Easy to get to by uber/lyft/bird if staying in town. You can walk and shop and eat for a few miles, I highly recommend eating at Krog Street Market, which is also our Monday bar crawl spot. This is also a place you can run. If you like to combo your day. You can start at Piedmont Park, run down the Beltline for a while, then stop and eat and or drink anywhere along the way.  You can uber back at any point.

Little 5 Points. Atlanta’s answer to Haight Ashbury. Record stores, hookah shops, tattoo parlors, you get the drift. All independently owned. There’s a marijuana dispensary NEXT to the police precinct!  You can go to The Vortex to eat the biggest burger ever after you claim your brown big. If you go prior to WTM, I would suggest The Porter they have great food, and a gazillion craft beers on tap. If you are ace at finding parking anywhere, give it a shot. I would highly recommend ride/share to and from.

What about Downtown Atlanta?

Not my type of fun. But if you want to do touristy stuff like The Coke Museum and The Hard Rock Cafe, then stay downtown.

Breweries

I know many of you like to hit these types of places when you travel.

The Monday Night Garage is awesome and it’s where the Friday Night Community Dinner is located. There is TONS of free parking here so if you need to drive to the Friday night thing, no problem

SweetWater Brewery is another choice. They have been a favorite since 1997, way ahead of the hipster brewery curve. It is NOT to be confused with Sweetwater State Park, as they are no where near each other.

Scofflaw  – Another popular in-town brewery, and a favorite of one Patty Hansel.

Where To Eat In General?

Tastes and moods vary, so Yelp and Google reviews may be your best bet.

However, someone asked me some of my specific faves so I’ll list them.

Agave – Southwestern Fare.  Sotto Sotto – Italian. The Optomist – Seafood. Poke Burri – Hipster sushi and poke.

Fred’s Meat and Bread is my current favorite for amazing and decadent foods. If you go to the Monday Bar Crawl, you can eat there with me!

What did I forget? Let me know your questions, and we will update this article whenever possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCR World Championships 2019 – What’s New, What’s Not

Adventurey, the company that produces the North American OCR Championships and the OCR World Championships, announced the location, and several additional details for the 2019 World Champs.

We’ve listed them below along with ORM thoughts on each.

Back in The U.K.

October 11 – 13, 2019. Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood, UK. The site of Nuclear Races.

ORM Thoughts : We assumed as much. Financially, it just makes sense to make a (minimum) two year commitment for any venue. Ohio’s King’s Domain served as the venue for 2014 and 2015. 2016 and 2017, the event moved to Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada. 2018 will see it returning to Gryffindor in the United Kingdom.

Revamped Team Relay Race

This year we reintroduced the concept of team based obstacles during the team leg of the relay. And basically, we fell back in love with them. So, watch out for several new obstacles tailored specifically for the team race in 2019. Additionally, Pro Relay teams must now be comprised of athletes from one nation (e.g. Team USA, Team Sweden). Open teams may continue to be mixed.

ORM Thoughts : Most of the pro teams were already country specific, but this may shake up the category a little bit, if there are last minute injuries, etc, and racers can’t have their first choice.

Expanded Age Groups

As a nod to some of the most inspiring athletes in the OCR community, we’ve expanded our divisions to now include 50-54, 55-59, and 60+ age groups. All will be eligible for cash prizes and podiums awards.

ORM Thoughts : The Grey Berets are rejoicing.

New Band System

With our growth and the ever-rising level of competition, we need more robust procedures to ensure the integrity of our results. To that end, next year’s event will bring more marshals, more photo and video review, and most importantly, a new completion band system. Details to follow in 2019.

ORM Thoughts : OCRWC has probably DQ’d more people in a few races than Spartan has done in 8 years. This is exciting as they continue to lead the way in this department.

FREE Bag Drop

Bag drop will be available and free for the entire weekend (Friday-Sunday).

ORM Thoughts: This seems like a no brainer. Not sure why this wasn’t always the case.

Streamlined Registration Process

Beginning next year, we’re going modify our packet pick up process to help alleviate crowds during the initial opening hours. In addition, athlete t-shirts will be pre-packaged with athlete bibs–so make your selection carefully during registration!

ORM Thoughts : Another no- brainer. However, people are SO excited for this event, 90 percent show up early, then complain about lines. Same thing happens at World’s Toughest Mudder every year.  People freak out at packet pickup and blast it on social media. Then by the end of the event, it’s long forgotten.

Modified Qualifying Standards

While this is always a delicate balance, we’ve started making adjustments to our qualifying criteria, which includes: tightening up requirements, removing certain races, and adding plenty of new ones. A new program that will award wild-card spots to athletes will also launch in 2019.

ORM Thoughts: Let’s hope Terrain Race is off the list for 2019.

A New Race Format

We’re keeping this under wraps for now, but watch out for an entirely new and innovative race format during race weekend. It’s not been done in OCR before—but we’re sure you’ll love it!

ORM Thoughts: Could be awesome. Maybe not. #StayTuned

REGISTER NOW. It’s 25 percent off until November 12th. Adrian assures us this will be the ONLY discount available.

Spartan World Championship Podium 2018

 

MEN’S ELITE WOMEN’S ELITE
 Jonathan Albon  2:07:04  Lindsay Webster  2:25:27
 Ryan Atkins  2:07:29  Rebecca Hammond  2:29:40
 Robert Killian  2:10:05  Zuzana Kocumova  2:31:18
 Ryan Woods  2:13:57  Faye Stenning  2:32:17
 Cody Moat  2:14:19  Rea Kolbl  2:40:08

 

MEN’S TEAM WOMEN’S TEAM
 Team Canada  1:40:27  Team Canada  2:03:33
 Team USA  1:40:57  Team USA  2:07:43
 Team USA  1:41:47  Team USA  2:19:06
 Team USA  1:43:11  Team USA  2:43:26
 Team Slovakia  1:46:45  Team France  2:49:12

The Fab Five Females Of OCR

In OCR’s relatively short history, we have not seen intense competition from this many rivals near the top from either gender.

If you have viewed the Spartan on NBC series in recent years, you may have watched Amelia versus Rose, Hunter battle Hobie, or even Atkins and Woodsy go back and forth for the top spot, but we never have we seen anything like this.

5 women, vying for 3 spots on the podium. Any one of which can win on any given day.

All 5 are around the same age, so all 5 of them can still get stronger (and maybe even faster), and all have plenty of races left in them.

Nicole Mericle – Boulder, CO – 30 years old

Nicole Mericle

Background: Collegiate cross country and track runner, rock climbing enthusiast

First OCR: May 2016 Fort Carson Spartan Super  –  (She placed 3rd to KK and Faye)

Stats: 38 races. 27 podiums. 11 firsts.

Titles: 3K OCR World Champion 2017, Tougher Mudder World Champion 2017, USA OCR 3K and 15K Champion 2017

Strengths: Running fast on flat and uphill terrain, grip and pull up strength obstacles, (and apparently slip walls with short ropes). Despite being the shortest of the Fab 5, I have some jumping, explosive power.

Weaknesses: Carrying heavy things

Give us one word to describe the following women:

Faye – Passionate
Rea – Adventurous
Nicole – Spirited
Lindsay – Champion
Alyssa – Lionhearted

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor?  Lindsay has her training and lifestyle so dialed in. I know she’s always going to be prepared, she knows how to race smart and she’s a fighter when it comes down to it. That’s a hard combination to beat and it’s why Lindsay is oftentimes unbeatable. In order to beat Lindsay I have to be firing at 100%, nothing can go wrong for me and usually something has to go wrong for her.

What else did we not ask you, that you want the world to know? I will not lead the race at the start in Tahoe.

Faye Stenning – Manhattan, New York – 28 years old

Background: Track and Cross Country

First OCR date: 2013

Stats: 69 races to date. 56 podiums. 33 firsts.

Titles: 2nd place at 2016 and 2018 USA Spartan Championship Series , 3rd at Spartan World Championships 2016

Strengths: Speed and endurance

Weaknesses: Technical descents (and the slip wall apparently)

Give us one word to describe the following women:

Faye- Work horse
Rea- Passionate
Nicole-Sassy and speedy
Lindsay- Gold Standard
Alyssa- Down to Earth

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor:

All of the above, depends on the day and the race conditions.

Lindsay Webster – Caledon, Ontario – 28 years old

Background:  Cross country skiing and mountain biking

First OCR date: Spartan World Championships in 2014 at Killington, VT (4th place)

Stats: 80 races, 70 podiums, 40 firsts.

Titles: OCR World Champion 2015, OCR World Champion short course 2016, OCR World Champion long course 2016, 1st place Spartan US Championship Series 2016, OCR World Champion short course 2017, OCR World Champion long course 2017, 1st place Spartan US Championship Series 2017, 1st place Spartan World Championships 2017, 1st place Spartan North American Championship 2018, 1st place OCR North American Championship 2018 long course, 1st place OCR North American Championship 2018 short course, 1st place Spartan US Championship Series 2018. 2018 Tougher Mudder Champion

Strengths: Technical running, descending, hills.

Weaknesses: Flat running, sometimes long carries depending on the day.

Give us one word to describe the following women:

Faye-  Driven. This girl works hard and races harder. She always gives 100% and you can tell if you’ve ever heard her breathing during a race lol.
Rea – Mountain Goat
Nicole – Speedster
Lindsay – Chameleon 😉 Because if you saw me off the race course I think I’m fairly unassuming haha.
Alyssa- Strong. Both physically and mentally.

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor: I’d say Rea or Nicole, depending on the race course.

What else did you not ask you that the world should know:
Rebecca Hammond! Watch for that girl 😉 She’ll be giving me a run for my money next year, I’d bet on it haha. She’s smart… she both races and trains smart, and doesn’t get flustered when something goes wrong in a race. She just figured it out and keeps moving, which is a seriously desirable quality in OCR.

Rea Kolbl – Boulder, CO – 27 years old

 

Background: Slovenian National Team member gymnastics, pole vaulting, trail running

First OCR date: One open heat 2013, Elite heats began in 2016

Stats: 53 races, 47 podiums, 26 firsts

Titles:  World’s Toughest Mudder 2017 champion, 2017 Spartan World Elite Series Champion & Spartan US Elite Series Champion

Strengths: Long climbs, steep ascents

Weaknesses: Technical downhills

Give us one word to describe the following women:

Faye -Fierce all around
Rea -Hill climbing queen
Nicole -Running rabbit
Lindsay -Technical descents magician
Alyssa – Heavy carry and muddy course monster

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor:
Each venue is different enough that any of them could be my toughest competitor. Course with lots of technical descents makes Lindsay tough to beat, and a race like Seattle with lots of mud puts Alyssa on top. You can bet that Nicole will take it away on a course with lots of flat, runnable terrain, and Faye can bring out her redlining abilities on any course. But make it super hilly without any significant bushwacking on the course, I think my chances of doing well are pretty high.

What else did we not ask you, that you want the world to know?
While all of these ladies are my competitors, each and every one of them is an amazing human being and I’m honored every time to share a course and a weekend of racing with such an incredible group.

 Alyssa Hawley – Spokane, WA – Age 28

 

Background:  OCR Division 1 College Softball

First OCR date: May 2015

Stats: 40 podiums with 19 overall wins.

Name of titles: 3rd place Spartan World Champion 2017

Strengths: Heavy carries, technical and muddy courses

Weaknesses: Flat and fast courses

One word to describe the following women :

Faye – Gritty

Rea – Mountain Goat

Nicole – Speedy

Lindsay – Unstoppable

Alyssa-  Hard worker

Who out of these women is your toughest competitor:

Lindsay. She doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses.

Related : How will all the top women fair in Tahoe for the 2018 Spartan World Championship.

 

 

2018 Spartan Race World Championship Predictions — Women

Spartan Tahoe Women 2018

Time for a quick history lesson on everyone who’s been on the women’s podium at each of the Spartan Race World Championships. A total of 14 different women have claimed a spot on the podium since the first ever Spartan Race World Championship in Texas in 2011. Since the venue moved to Lake Tahoe three years ago, Zuzana Kocumova and Lindsay Webster have finished 1st or 2nd every year.

Course Design

Spartan Race returns to Squaw Valley for the fourth consecutive year on September 29, 2018. Steve Hammond, designing Tahoe’s course once again this year, said in a teaser video on Monday that the course will be 13.5 miles, start straight uphill, and that runners will get wet early. Spartan may decide to fool everyone by replicating last year’s course profile, but Steve Hammond said that it will start straight uphill and everyone will be getting wet early. I’m willing to bet that 2018 will be more like 2015 or 2016, with a long downhill section from the peak to the finish line. They haven’t released the course map yet, but everyone will know what to expect by Friday.

Most Crucial Race Section

I crunched a bunch of numbers based on splits at various timing mats from all 3 years in which the Spartan Race World Championship was held at Tahoe. The boxed area on each course map is the section of the race that made the biggest impact for the top racers, where you either gained a lot of ground or fell back several spots. Notice a trend? All of them involve a climb followed by a downhill section (or vice versa) in the second half of the race. If you want to do well at Tahoe, you must be able to quickly transition from your “climbing legs” to your “downhill legs.”

Last year’s race was won or lost during the 7-mile section from right after the swim (about halfway on the downhill) to the second spear throw (after the second climb towards the end). Check out this incredible stat about this section:

Only 2 people ran within 1:00/mile SLOWER than Lindsay Webster did on the 7-mile stretch between mile 8-15. Everyone in the top-10 who didn’t end up on the podium ran between 1:09 – 2:18 slower per mile on this section than Lindsay. She literally distanced himself by 8-16 minutes vs. 7 of the 10 best female Spartan Racers in the world during the second half of the race, including Faye Stenning, Rea Kolbl, Nicole Mericle, etc. There’s a reason why Lindsay and Zuzana have ended up 1st or 2nd each of the past 3 years, and their ability to push the pace on back-to-back uphill-downhill sections is the explanation. If you’re not leading them at this point in the race, it may be a better idea to play it safe and go for 3rd place instead of blowing up trying for a top-2 spot.

Don’t Go Too Fast Too Soon

Nearly 2/3 of women who finished in the top-25 gained position between the 2-mile checkpoint and the finish line. In fact, none of the top-18 racers dropped more than 4 spots over the final 14.5 miles of the race. On average, the top-25 finishers moved up 3.8 spots between mile 2 and the finish line, with 10 racers moving up 10+ spaces during this section. In comparison, racers who placed 26th-100th overall dropped, on average, 6.1 spots after mile 2. Tahoe is a looong race, so don’t start too fast too soon.

TOP SPARTAN RACERS IN 2018

North America

It’s been no secret that 5 ladies have consistently dominated the women’s field for the past 2+ years. The “Fab Five” consists of Lindsay Webster, Faye Stenning, Rea Kolbl, Alyssa Hawley, and Nicole Mericle. How dominant have these 5 women been over the past 3 years? This year, they’ve collectively run 47 races and had a top-5 finish 46 times (97.9% of the time), with Alyssa Hawley’s 6th place at West Virginia being the lone exception. In 2017 and 2016, this group finished in the top-5 in 95.5% and 86.3% of all races they ran, respectively. If any of these 5 women is in a race, they’re all a lock to finish in the top-5 nearly 95% of the time, no matter who their competition is.

The table below shows how the “Fab Five” fared head-to-head this year:

Lindsay Webster
Like her husband Ryan Atkins, Lindsay is the only person with a winning record head-to-head vs. each of the best US female racers this year. Her only head-to-head losses this year have been to Faye and Rea, both at the Big Bear Beast. Lindsay has won her last 3 races by a margin of 2:28 to 3:58 over the 2nd place finisher. That gap might not sound impressive, but trust me, it’s insane. None of the last 3 races of the male US Series were won by more than 44 seconds, as Lindsay’s average margin of victory was between 3.4 and 5.4 times as large in those same races. To put it differently, you’d have dropped all the way to 9th place in Chicago if you were a male who finished 2:28 behind the winner, but that earned 2nd place for the women. Lindsay Webster has been destroying the deepest fields in women’s history by margins of victory never seen before.

Out of all athletes who have completed 4+ Spartan Races in 2018, no one has finished closer to the winner on average than Lindsay Webster, and it’s not even close. Here’s the top-10:

Faye Stenning
After a 3rd place finish in 2016, Faye Stenning had an inconsistent 2017, but she returned to form in 2018. Faye is one of only two women to beat Lindsay Webster head-to-head this year, and she owns the 2nd highest “% off winner” ratio of all US women. Faye has either won or finished 2nd in 8/10 races this year, with her worst finish 4th place at the Chicago Super and West Virginia Beast.

Rea Kolbl
After an injury scare during the summer, Rea Kolbl looks 100% again. Rea is known for putting in a ridiculous amount of volume each week, so maybe the forced time off her feet due to injury will end up helping her feel fresh at Tahoe. Rea is the only person besides Faye to have beaten Lindsay Webster head-to-head this year.

Alyssa Hawley
The number “4” seems to be reigning 3rd place Tahoe finisher Alyssa Hawley’s magic number this year. Alyssa finished 4th at the Breckenridge Beast, Utah Super, and Big Bear Beast, in addition to 6th at West Virginia. In the 6 largest races this year (5 US Series races and West Virginia), Alyssa has finished on the podium twice. She may not be winning as frequently this year, but Alyssa is as consistent as it gets during big races.

Nicole Mericle
Arguably the fastest female pure runner in the field, Nicole won the individual title at the 2008 NCAA South Central Regional while a cross-country runner at Rice. Her run speed is always on display, as she immediately takes the lead in nearly every Spartan Race in which she competes. Not only that, Nicole is an unbelievable rock climber. Nicole has podiumed at the past 3 US Series races, so she is heading into Tahoe with a lot of momentum. A Colorado resident, Nicole won’t be intimidated by the mountains or elevation at Tahoe.

Rebecca Hammond
Surely you’ve heard her story by now, but if not, this Harvard medical student is legit. Even before her surprise podium in West Virginia, Rebecca Hammond had put together a very strong season, losing to Rea Kolbl in her first race by just 19 seconds, a 6th place finish in Utah, and ridiculous back-to-back 13- and 11-minute wins (!) at the Boston Super and Sprint.

Other Names to Watch
• Amelia Boone – No, it’s not 2013. Amelia is still one of the best female Spartan racers 5 years after winning the World Championship in Killington. She has mainly raced the Spartan Race Mountain Series this year and just finished 8th at West Virginia. That’s a recipe for success at Tahoe and maybe one last stand for the Queen of Pain.
• Leigh Anne Wasteney – Leigh Anne has been just behind the Fab Five all years, with several 6th place finishes in the US Series. A dual-sport runner and volleyball player in college, Leigh Anne’s athleticism has helped her excel at OCR.
• Sara Schwertfeger – An NCAA championship qualifying hurdler at Iowa State, Sara surprised the field with a 9th place finish at Tahoe last year. Podiums in 4/5 races this year, just her second in OCR, have shown that last year wasn’t a fluke.
• Sarah Woodward – It’s a shame that no one ever mentions Sarah among the best female Spartan Racers. Did you know Sarah Woodward has finished 9th and 8th the past two years at Tahoe? Not only that, Sarah took down Rea Kolbl and Alyssa Hawley last month at the Breckenridge Beast.
• Kristin Saad – After finishing 10th each of the past two years at Tahoe, Kristin has finished between 5th to 9th place in 4 US Series races this year. A former NCAA D1 runner at Miami University (Ohio), Kristin has the legs to keep up with nearly everyone in the women’s field.

International

Like most things in the US, Americans don’t usually pay attention to what’s happening outside the country. That’s the case in OCR, too. Here are some international racers worth keeping an eye on:

Eszter Hortobagyiova (Slovakia)
Eszter is the best European female Spartan Racer not named Zuzana Kocumova. She has finished on the podium in 19/20 career races, with the only omission being last year at Tahoe, where she finished 13th. In fact, the only women to beat Eszter ever outside of Tahoe is Zuzana (4 times) and Yoie Bohlin (2nd at last year’s Spartan European Championship). Eszter finished 2nd at this year’s European Championship, just 3:07 behind Zuzana (her narrowest European Championship win ever) and 2:19 ahead of Alyssa Hawley.

Myriam Guillot-Boisset (Spain)
Did you know that Myriam was leading last year’s Spartan World Championship by over a minute after the first heavy carry (42 minutes into the race)? I bet you also didn’t know she finished 4th at the 2016 XTerra World Championship, which is essentially an off-road triathlon. Even more impressive, Myriam finished 8th overall at the 2016 Spartan Race World Championship despite doing 300 burpees. That’s not a typo! After a 3rd place finish at the European Championship, it’s clear that Myriam can race with the best OCR has to offer. Whether or not she can avoid burpees is another story.

Alex Roudayna de la Huerta Susilla (Mexico)
Also known as Chikorita, Alex has never finished worse than 2nd in 15 career Spartan Races in Mexico, including 11 straight wins dating back to 2014. Despite sitting out last year’s Spartan Race World Championship, Alex has a 6th place finish (2015) and an 11th place finish (2016) on her resume. She may not be as dominant as in years past, but Chikorita still finished 9th in the Seattle US Series Super and 12th at the European Championship earlier this year.

Anne Champagne (Canada)
Champagne became one of only 3 women to have won a race outright for both genders after her win at the Killington Ultra Beast, beating all the men in the race. Anne finished 38th at Tahoe two years ago and has a top-2 finish in 3/4 races this year.

Who’s Missing?

Here’s a list of some people with a top-25 finish at Tahoe (since 2015) and their best ever finish at a Spartan Race World Championship (some results are prior to 2015). What do they have in common? None of them have officially qualified for Tahoe this year.

Spartan changed its qualification process, and so far, they seem to be standing by their new policy. However, Joe DiStefano did mention a little-known Spartan policy on Instagram that former champions (Claude Godbout (2012) and Jenny Tobin (2011)) are welcome to compete at any Spartan Race World Championship for life. As of today, no one else on this list is allowed to compete for the 2018 Spartan Race World Championship title, as all of the top-10 from last year has already automatically qualified again.

PREDICTIONS

Even though the depth of the female field has increased exponentially this year, I think best-case scenario for any woman not named Lindsay Webster or Zuzana Kocumova is 3rd place at Tahoe. Lindsay Webster is currently putting together the single-most dominant season for a female OCR athlete ever, and Zuzana is, well, Zuzana. No athlete with world champion aspirations wants to hear it, but it may be a better strategy to race smart and go for the last podium spot than trying to take down the two best female OCR athletes ever. Take a look at the statistic that I showed earlier in the article about how Lindsay and Zuzana ran the second half of last year’s race by over 1:00 per mile. It’s almost impossible to outrun them they’ve finished 1st and 2nd all 3 years at Tahoe for a reason.

Here’s how I think the women’s side of the 2018 Lake Tahoe Spartan Race World Championship will end up:

Note: This list assumes that all international racers will fly to Tahoe to race, which probably won’t be the case. Some international athletes may stay home and instead use their money to travel to OCRWC in the UK instead.

1. Lindsay Webster

Lindsay is the reigning Spartan Race World Champion but still doesn’t get the credit she deserves. It’s a shame that she is the female G.O.A.T. of OCR, yet many people still refer to Lindsay as “Ryan Atkins’ husband.” Lindsay only races at the most difficult races of the year (US Series, Canadian National Championship, Spartan Race World Championship), yet she has managed to win 14/19 Spartan Races that she has entered since 2016 without ever missing the podium. Did I mention she is the reigning Spartan Race World Champion? There’s never been a woman in the history of Spartan Race who could beat Lindsay in her current fitness level.

2. Zuzana Kocumova

Until proven otherwise, picking Zuzana and Lindsay as the top-2 female finishers at Tahoe is about the safest bet you can make in OCR. They’ve done it each of the previous 3 years at Tahoe and there’s no reason to think it will change this year. Zuzana won the Spartan Race European Championship by several minutes this summer and is a 2-time Spartan Race and was only 1:43 behind Lindsay last year. One fun stat to keep in mind: Zuzana is 39. Why is that relevant? The male Spartan World Champion has been 39 each of the past two years (Hobie Call in 2016, Cody Moat in 2017). It would be amazing for the “age 39” trend to continue for a third year in a row (switching to the women’s side), but I just don’t see any way that Lindsay will lose this race, even to the two-time World Champion Zuzana.

3. Faye Stenning

Faye seems to be the female version of Ryan Atkins, someone who’s always been close to being the Spartan Race World Champion but still hasn’t won yet. Faye doesn’t show up to the start line to finish 2nd, though. She shows up to win. This type of mindset usually produces one of two outcomes: a spot on the podium because you’re not afraid to take a risk, or a missed podium because you went for the win too soon and blew up. Faye will either end up on the podium or fade towards the end after taking too much of a risk by going for the win too early. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she’ll do well in Tahoe based on her previous showings there.

4. Rebecca Hammond

Rebecca is not afraid to go out with the leaders and shocked OCR fans everywhere with a 2nd place finish in West Virginia, taking down names like Faye, Rea, Nicole, and Alyssa in the process. The former collegiate and professional runner has the lungs and legs to run with anyone, and the fact that Tahoe will be “shorter” this year (13.5 miles) will only help her chances at Tahoe. Assuming Rebecca has been working on her obstacle proficiency, she will shave off valuable time lost due to inexperience that she showed at West Virginia.  Rebecca will prove at Tahoe that her 2nd place finish at the North American Championship was not a fluke.

5. Rea Kolbl

Unfortunately for her opponents, grip strength endurance no longer is an issue for Rea thanks to Yancy Culp’s help. Living in Colorado means the mountains and altitude at Tahoe will play right into Rea’s strengths. Only a couple dozen men in all of OCR are faster running uphill than Rea, who is arguably the best female climber in the world. That’s a recipe for success at Tahoe. I had Rea slated for a podium spot at the beginning of the year, but I don’t know if her body has had enough time to return to peak fitness in time for Tahoe after her injury.

Rest of the top-10:

6. Myriam Guillot-Boisset
7. Nicole Mericle
8. Alyssa Hawley
9. Sara Schwertfeger
10. Eszter Hortobagyiova

Read about the 2018 Spartan Tahoe Men’s Predictions Here.