Gender Differences from This Unpredictable Spartan Race Season

Men’s Overview

If I had to summarize the 2019 Spartan Race season so far, I’d say that this is the year where the “best of the rest” finally caught up to the “historical best.” Raise your hand if you thought back in January that Johnny Luna-Lima, Ryan Kempson, and Tyler Veerman would all finish ranked in the top-5 of the US National Series (USNS)? I’m sure you also thought they’d all have at least a .500 record head-to-head against Robert Killian and Ryan Woods, too, right? Ok, put your hand down, you liar.

The same 7 men dominated Spartan Race from 2016-2018: Ryan Atkins, Robert Killian, Hobie Call, Cody Moat, Hunter McIntyre, Jon Albon, and usually Ryan Woods. They were on a different level and rarely lost to anyone outside that small list of names. So how rare was it for someone else to beat them (even once) before this year? Very.

Combined, those “historical top-7” men ran exactly 100 total Spartan Races in 2017 and 2018. Only 15 different people worldwide managed to beat just one of those top-7 guys even once last year at any distance (not counting Robert Killian running Iceland with a weight vest). Only 4 men who beat ANY of those top-7 men in multiple races both years 2017-2018 (Angel Quintero, Ryan Kent, Mark Batres, and Veejay Jones). That’s insane.

Then something happened this year: the “historical top-7” men started losing to new people. In just 5 months of racing this year, SEVEN separate guys have taken down at least 2 of the “historical top-7” in at least 3 separate races. Keep in mind that Hunter and Hobie aren’t active on the Spartan scene anymore, and Cody rarely races. That means fewer chances to beat those “historical top-7” men this year. Is age or too much racing finally catching up to Woods and Killian? Was this new crop of OCR stars really talented all along, but it just took them a few years to master the sport?  It’s probably a combination of the two, but more likely the latter.

The only certainty about this season is that the competition on the men’s side is at an all-time high and will continue to get deeper next year. But what about the women’s side?

Women’s Overview

On the women’s side, it’s been all about Lindsay Webster and Nicole Mericle. Nicole started the year on fire with two wins, including a nearly 7-minute win in Jacksonville. Since then, Lindsay has been unbeatable, winning each of the last 3 US National Series races by at least 2:50.

However, just like on the men’s side, several women have tried to disrupt the status quo and have challenged most of the “Fab 5” all season. Rose Wetzel has made a comeback with a 4th-place ranking in the US National Series standings. Leigh Anne Wasteney has finished in every position 4th – 8th in the 5 US National Series races. Unfortunately, Rebecca Hammond has dealt with injuries since Seattle after a breakout 2018 campaign, but her ability is undeniable.

Two new women showed potential to be the next Rebecca Hammond and finally break up the “Fab 5” at the start of the year: Nell Rojas and Tia Reagan. However, Nell (understandably) decided to give up on OCR to focus on the 2020 Olympic marathon trials, while Tia is still in the growing stages of the sport (similar to what Ryan Woods went through a few years ago).

Want to go even deeper into the (Jack Bauer Stats) woods? Click here.

2019 Spartan Race Gender Differences (Nerd Edition)

…this is a continuation of a previous article.

Depth on the women’s side is higher than it’s ever been, with 8-10 women capable of a top-5 finish at any major race. How does it compare with the best men, though? Do women actually have better depth this year?

US National Series

To answer this, I looked at how far back of the winner each of the top-20 racers finished at each of the 5 US National Series races. In general, performance drops off noticeably around 20th place, especially on the women’s side, so I mainly wanted to focus on the best of the best racers. No surprise, those 5 races have the highest strength of schedule ratings so far this year for both genders.

Rather than give you a huge table with 60+ lines, here’s a quick overview of the time gap between 1st and 5th place for both genders at the 5 USNS races.

As you can see, the time gap between the winner and 5th place is much different for each gender. The fastest female (Lindsay or Nicole) beat her nearest competitor by nearly 3 minutes in all but 1/5 USNS races. How would the men’s results have changed if the time gaps switched genders? In other words, look at Jacksonville on the women’s side. Second place (Lindsay) finished 6:46 behind the winner (Nicole). How many men finished within 6:46 of the winner?

Amazingly, 15 men finished within 6:46 of the winner (Ryan Kempson) in Jacksonville, as shown in the table above. Go through the rest of the races and you’ll see that (on average) the 7th place male finished just as close to the male winner as the 3rd place female finished relative to the female winner. Based on time gap, the 20th place male would (on average) finish in 8th place had men had the same time gap as women that same race.

The gender time gap is more obvious when you see it on a graph. Notice how the two lines aren’t parallel and separate going to the right? That means that both gender’s performances aren’t consistent the “worse” you place (not that 15th at a USNS race is bad). There’s already a 10% gender difference at only 6th place, and the difference only gets bigger after that. On average, the 20th place male only finishes 15.7% slower than the male winner, while the 20th place female is 30.5% slower than the female winner.

Gender Differences Through the Years

Percent of the winner is a better ratio to account for fast and slow finishing times at every race distance from Stadium to Ultra Beast, though. Fortunately for you, I’ve spent countless hours compiling Spartan Race results since 2011. The data shows that the average female Spartan Race winner has historically finished only 79.1% as fast as the men’s winner that same race worldwide since 2011. In other words, if the male winner in a race is 1:00, then the female winner who finished 79.1% as fast would finish in roughly 1:16.

This graph probably looks crazy, but hopefully that math example above makes things clearer. Let’s be real: you probably would’ve stopped reading this article long ago if you weren’t interested in complex data. Values for the % of winner female vs. male are summarized in the table below the graphs for each region and year.

Conclusion

This relative ratio of female winning time vs. male winning time has remained pretty consistent worldwide, with most years and regions historically ranging from the upper-70s to low-80s. The fact that these ratios have stayed consistent means that the top male AND female racers have improved proportionately through the years (at least within a few % of each other). Both genders have stepped up big time this year, but the men’s field is still deeper than the women’s field by a good margin.

Look back through the early years of Spartan Race for the men, specifically. Most of the 10 best racers not named Hobie or Cody from 2011-2014 would struggle to place in the top-10 at major races these days. It took about a decade for depth on the men’s side to reach its current level. I’d argue that the women’s side is a few years behind the men in terms of depth, meaning the current state of the women’s field is right around where the men were in 2014 or so. I bet within only a couple years, several new faces will join the sport, resulting in the women’s field being as deep as the men’s field is today.

There’s no such thing as a “gimme” podium anymore at major US races for the historical top racers unless your name is Ryan Atkins, Lindsay Webster, or Nicole Mericle, as they’re the only athletes to have more than 2 podiums in the 5 USNS races this year (all were 5/5, actually). No matter which era those three would have competed in, they still would have ended up towards the top. Earning a podium won’t get any easier going forward, though, due to all the “new” racers making a name for themselves this year. It’s not like guys such as Robert Killian, Ryan Woods, or Cody Moat suddenly aren’t great anymore because they still have some of the highest odds of winning any race they enter. The rest of the field has simply gotten that much better, which gives the illusion that the “historical best” aren’t as good as they once were.

The top women probably have a few more years left to earn relatively “easy” podiums at major races, but that window is closing rapidly. Before you know it, the women’s field will be just as chaotic as the men’s field this year. Good luck predicting the top-5 finishers each race once that happens.

Spartan Rule Changes 2019!

From Spartan Race HQ:

Today we have released our latest update to the Spartan Rules of Competition. It will go into effect for races starting on August 24, 2019, We have updated the language and formatting of the rules, added some brand new rules, and recategorized some of the obstacles. While a full list of changes is listed on the last page of the rule book, there are a few changes we want to make sure you are aware of before your race.

● You are not required to complete 5 burpees at the Atlas Carry.
You are only required to carry the Atlas Stone along the required route and return to the starting point.
● You are allowed to carry the bucket above the head or on the shoulder during the Bucket Carry. Also if the lid comes off you do not need to restart the obstacle unless the material has also been displaced.
● You are not allowed to use the vertical truss as a ladder in order to start hanging obstacles, EG Monkey Bars. You can, however, use the Horizontal Truss to start the obstacles.
● You must complete the Dunk Wall as it is now a mandatory obstacle.
● You are considered to have completed the balance beam once you have touched the descending beam with at least one foot.
● Spartan is not obligated to review 3rd party video footage for any reason.
● We have defined what standing on top of means at the Hercules Hoist. Competitors hips may not rise above the top of the barrier.
 
Also, we wanted to clarify a few questions we often see:
● Competitors are not allowed to pre-run the course or engage with obstacles unless prior approval has been granted by Spartan. Events like Spartan’s Open house is considered approval for the areas mentioned for each specific event.
● During flip obstacles, you must fully disengage with the object. This means you cannot rest it on your foot, or keep your hands on the object.
● You are allowed the use the vertical support on the Z Wall. However, you cannot touch the top or bottom of the cutout to your advantage.
You can find the full Spartan Rules of Competition here.
Register for West Virginia, Tahoe, and more here.

2019 NORAM Results – North American Championships 3K

 

Lindsay Webster edged our her closest rival Nicole Mericle to win the North American Championships short course championship this afternoon. These two, once part of a contingent known as the Fab 5 have separated themselves from the rest of the field by taking the top spots in all of the major races in the last 2 years. Ninja Warrior veteran Michele Warnky was a surprise third over OCR vets Rose Wetzel and Tiffany Palmer. Although some may remember she finished in 4th place at the original OCRWC back in 2015.

NORAM 3K Championships Women

2019 Noram Men results

On the men’s side, Veejay Jones is proving himself to be one of the top dogs in OCR. Despite disappointing finishes in that last two USNS races, today he beat out speedsters Atkins, Woods, and Newell to take the 3K title. Speaking of Newell, this relative newcomer is beginning to get himself noticed for more than just dating Nicole, or messing around on Instagram. He’s a threat at multiple OCR distances as he has finished on the podium for Sprints, Supers, Ultra Beasts, and even a Sky Race in recent months.

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Watch our FB coverage as it happened with these links.

3K women replay!

3K Men Replay!

Complete results for The 2019 NorAm Championships 3K men and women.

Spartan to Acquire Some Of Warrior Dash Assets

*Update – All Warrior Dash participants with a canceled race ticket, can race Spartan for free. Continue reading for details.

Anyone else can sign up for a 2019 or 2020 Spartan Race Here.

____________________________________________________________

 

Last night, we reported the closing of Warrior Dash. Additional news has come to light that we want to share with you.

We recorded this interview with Spartan Founder Joe Desena at 3:00 PM EST this afternoon.

Learn what the future of Warrior Dash is, and how Spartan will play a role.

Joe Desena on Spartan acquiring some Warrior Dash assets.

Spartan acquires some of the Warrior Dash assets. WD racers left out to dry can race Spartan for free. Warrior Dash website will point to Spartan.com. Emails going out to both companies customers with more details shortly.

Posted by Obstacle Racing Media on Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Warrior Dash Cancels All Races – Going Out Of Business

Update – All Warrior Dash participants with a canceled race ticket, can race Spartan for free. Continue reading for details.

Anyone else can sign up for a 2019 or 2020 Spartan Race Here.

Warrior Dash has canceled all upcoming races and ceased operations as of today. Their parent company, Red Frog, appears to be closing their doors. An email, sent by one of Red Frog’s Event Operations Managers, was sent to staff members which stated the following ” Today we just got word that Red Frog is no longer a company. I wanted to let you guys know sooner than later…this sucks all around.”

According to multiple sources close to ORM, Red Frog has been attempting to sell Warrior Dash since May of this year, but at this point, it has not been revealed if they found a buyer for their assets.

Warrior Dash Cancel

Warrior Dash’s website still lists 10 upcoming races for 2019, along with another 10 for sale for 2020. All of their social media pages were still active as of the time of this article.

**Update – The website still lists those races for sale, but as of 9:30 pm EST you can no longer complete the purchase. Here is a screenshot from Eventsprout, which is another Red Frog owned platform.

No word yet on when or how customers who have purchased tickets to future events will be refunded.

 

Red Frog launched their first Warrior Dash on July 18, 2009, in Joliet, Illinois. Along with Tough Mudder and Spartan Race, Warrior Dash helped kick off the mud run and obstacle racing boom of the next 5 years. At their peak, Warrior Dash produced 49 events in 2012. The last few years have seen that number slowly descend to 23 per year. However, Warrior Dash has been getting healthy numbers, at 4,000-6,000 attendees per event, as we showed in our recent state of the OCR industry report.

In 2012, Red Frog also created The Firefly Festival in Dover Delaware. This summer festival has been a massive success attracting hundreds of thousands of attendees over the years. The headliners have included such acts as The Killers, Paul McCartney, Eminem, 21 Pilots, Bob Dylan, and more. Red Frog sold its holdings to the Festival to the Coachella festival producers in 2018.

No word on yet on what will be happening with the registration platform Eventsprout or the Food and Beverage division they launched a few years ago.

We will have more on this story as it develops.

7/31/19 4:30 pm Update – Spartan Acquires Some Warrior Dash Assets. Click here for more

7/31/19 7:31 am update

3 of the biggest obstacle races have responded to the recent Warrior Dash news by offering customers free or discounted entry. It is a silver lining that comes along with the sad news. This has been common practice in the OCR industry since the boom/bust days of 2013/14 when races were closing frequently.

Tough Mudder – Free Tough Mudder 5k ($50 upgrade to a TM Classic)

Spartan Race – Free Sprint or Super distance.

Savage Race – Free Blitz distance race.

Here are statements that ORM has received in recent hours.

Tough Mudder

I’m very saddened to hear that Warrior Dash and Red Frog Events have closed up. In their 10 years, Warrior Dash has been a great entry-level event for many people new to OCR, and we wish the best to their staff and partners who are surely going through a challenging time.

Tough Mudder would like to welcome any of the Warrior Dash participants who have been affected by the cancellation of their upcoming events.  For any participant who had already purchased a Warrior Dash ticket for a 2019 or 2020 event, we’d welcome them to come run for FREE at any Tough Mudder 5k in 2019 or 2020, or upgrade to a Tough Mudder Classic for $50. They can claim their entry by emailing a copy of their Warrior Dash ticket or purchase confirmation to support@toughmudder.com.
Kyle McLaughlin- Chief Executive Officer
Spartan Race
Warrior Dash Nation,

While we understand an obstacle has been put in your path, we’re here to support you. We don’t want anything to stand in the way of achieving your goals and therefore we will waive the registration fee for entry into a Spartan Sprint or Super event in the US for all currently registered Warrior Dash racers. Instructions will follow in the coming days.

We know you are members of a passionate community – and we’re here to assure you that we share your values for grit and determination – and will leave no man or woman behind. We look forward to seeing you out on the course.

Aroo and Welcome to Sparta!

Sign up for a 2019 or 2020 Spartan Race Here.

Joe Desena – Founder

Savage Race

We’ve always honored that for people who signed up for an event that went under. If they signed up for a warrior dash that got canceled this year then we can accommodate with a blitz entry.

Send email to support@savagerace.com with proof of purchase for any warrior dash event that was canceled.

Lloyd Parker and Sam Abbitt – Co-Founders.

Rugged Maniac

Warrior Dash Nation, we’re very sorry to hear the news. Rugged Maniac is here to help. If you signed up for a Warrior Dash event that was canceled, we’re here to ensure you still get an epic race experience in 2019 or 2020. Simply email us at support@ruggedraces.com with your receipt for any canceled Warrior Dash event and we’ll let you sign up for any Rugged Maniac event for free! This offer only exists until August 16th.

Didn’t sign up for Warrior Dash and still want to run Rugged Maniac? You can save 25% with the code WARRIOR on any Rugged Maniac event between now and August 16th! This code expires on August 16th, so act now.

Rob Dickens- CEO Rugged Maniac

7/31/19 10:45 am – 2 more race companies allow free transfers.

BoneFrog

Due to WD closing down. BoneFrog is offering anyone with proof of registration for any of the events that were canceled a FREE Sprint at one of our 2019 events. You must email into us via FB or IG with proof and we will send you a code. You will be able to upgrade as well once registered.

Conquer The Gauntlet
Attn: Warrior Dash Nation and OCR community. We are sad to hear the news of the cancelation of the upcoming Warrior Dash events. We desire to help all those already registered for a WD event find an OCR that they can attend. If you are already registered for a Warrior Dash event please send us an email to contact@conquerthegauntlet.com and we will waive your registration fee and get you registered for one of our upcoming Conquer The Gauntlet events. Please include email and ticket number.