Spartan Race U.S. Championship Series: Ryan Atkins Takes The Crown

Atkins Breckenridge

This weekend was the final race in the inaugural Spartan Race U.S. Championship Series. The USCS is a five race series to determine which male and female Spartan Race athletes will hold the title of U.S. Champion. The series is televised on the NBCSN network.

Each athletes final score is determined by the cumulative number of points they earned across each of the five races. The lowest individual point score is dropped leaving each racer with their four best races counting toward their final score. A first place finish is worth 300 points, a second place finish is worth 299 points and so on down the line. A perfect score with 4 (or 5) wins in the series is worth 1,200 points.

As the series began, Ryan Atkins looked unstoppable. He rattled off three quick wins in the first three races. In the fourth race at Asheville, North Carolina, Atkins finally came up against an opponent he couldn’t beat: The Spartan Race officials.  Atkins was disqualified for failing the rope climb and not completing the required penalty of 30 burpees. In an interview afterward with ORM’s Matt B. Davis, Atkins told how the first rope he grabbed was coated in clay and unclimbable. Atkins described what happened next.

I guess I’m used to racing mandatory obstacle completion races where if you screw something up you just find a lane that works as fast as you can and get it done. I had never failed an obstacle at Spartan. So I went and I climbed a different rope.

The controversy of Atkin’s disqualification was magnified by a similar situation with Robert Killian on the Multi-Rig obstacle. As Killian neared the end of the obstacle he appeared to touch the ground with his foot, causing him to fail the obstacle. The Spartan official at the obstacle did not penalize him and Killian continued. After viewing video of the incident Killian offered to “self-DQ”, but Spartan declined and said the decision of the official would stand.

Going into the final race this weekend, Atkins could secure the series win with a third place finish or better. A fourth place finish for Atkins combined with a first place for Hunter McIntyre would allow McIntyre to tie Atkins for first place in the series. A fifth place finish at Breckenridge for Atkins combined with a win by defending Spartan Race World Champion Robert Killian would mean a tie for first between Atkins and Killian.

Atkins made it interesting by finishing in fifth place at Breckenridge. McIntyre could have claimed the title with a win but ultimately finished in fourth place. McIntyre was 24 seconds in front of Atkins and six minutes and 42 seconds behind the winner.

Atkins’ surprising finish also gave Robert Killian a chance to claim first place in the series. With a win at Breckenridge and Atkins finishing in fifth place, Killian and Atkins would have been tied in series points and Killian would have won the tiebreaker by virtue of a better finish at Breckenridge.

Killian fell just short with a second-place finish that was three minutes and 33 seconds behind the winner – Cody Moat.

Stop for a minute. Imagine the controversy that would have resulted from Killian winning the championship on a tiebreaker after the disqualification incidents at Asheville. Spartan is extremely lucky that did not happen. Joe DeSena should thank Cody Moat and take him out for a nice lunch at Zaxby’s.

“The Summit” Results – Breckenridge Beast Elite Men’s Results

2016 Breckenridge Men's Elite Top 10

Ryan Atkins finished the 2016 U.S. Championship Series in first place with 1196 points. Robert Killian finished in second with 1195 points and Hunter McIntyre finished in third with 1194 points. Congratulations to everyone who raced in the Spartan USCS, but especially to these men.

2016 Spartan U.S.C.S. Men's Final Point Totals

In a few weeks,  Spartan will crown their “World Champion” with it’s annual Spartan World Championship Race in Squaw Valley (Tahoe), California.

Beyond The Race – Matt “The Bear” Novakovich

Is Elite Obstacle Course Racing on your ‘Dying To Try List’? Or maybe you’re a seasoned vet on the course, wanting to push a bit further. I bet you have questions, doubts, even fears, the biggest being, how to cram twenty-nine hours into your twenty-four, with the effortless calm that the Elites and Pros seem to have in everyday life. Easy, right?

 Secrets out. It’s not!

Whether you’re dealing with the all too common Clark Kent OCR Syndrome or already neck deep in the fitness world, either way, you’re realizing that the imprint on the couch from your sedentary days has long since disappeared, but weighing life in all its aspects has become somewhat of a daily reprieve. It’s time we go beyond the race, taking a deeper look into how the Professionals got from where you are … to where they are … and stay there.
Beyond The Race Matt The Bear NovakovichFortunately, Spartan Race Pro, Matt ”The Bear” Novakovich, sat down with us to shed a bit of light.

Matt’s Bio:

  • Born and raised in Alaska
  • Business degree from Brigham Young University
  • 1 College Steeple Chaser
  • Mountain Marathon Champion
  • Owner of an Alaskan roofing company
  • Father of four beautiful children

After graduating BYU, Matt headed back to Alaska with his college sweetheart and future wife, a drive to build his business and a growing desire to compete.  Unbeknownst to him how far this competitive hunger would go, Matt found his way into mastering the art of incline training, aiding in his multiple Mountain Marathon successes and OCR Spartan victories. No, the man who rigged a treadmill to a 40% incline will not accept the Alaskan Mountain terrain availability as an excuse. When there’s a will. There’s a way.
Beyond The Race MNSo how does a resume like this happen? Yes, insane training played a part, but, persistence in achieving positive balance in daily living is where the real credit is due. Utilizing the patience and diligence learned from his sport, among a few other tricks, and applying it to struggles that, more times than not, are what most of us can all too easily identify with.

When failing to meet race expectations in his final Mountain Marathon, Matt stumbled into OCR. Not expecting it would bring more than the satisfaction of getting out of a rut. Who knew that all that incline training and the endless hours of climbing would pay off big on these, not just new, but foreign course designs. Finishing first at one of Spartan Races hardest courses, the 2013 Virginia Wintergreen. A new sport romance was born.
Beyond The Race Matt The Bear NovakovichMaking it a family affair, Matt aided in peaking the interest to his then wife, who lead on her way to becoming a top female competitor on the course, thus broadening the opportunities for their mini athletes. Sadly, for the Novakovich family, competition took its toll and constant traveling to different venues ended up adding too much strain on the marriage. What started as an exciting and fast-paced new adventure, Matt was now finding himself in the middle of a divorce. The words “The best things are not always the most glamorous” proved to not just apply to his roofing company any longer.
Beyond The Race Matt The Bear NovakovichSo how does a 41-year-old, business owning entrepreneur, recently single father of four, Pro OCR athlete keep it going you might ask? Well, according to him “Balance. It’s a lifestyle.” Made up of merely four pieces:

social interaction

physicality

mentality

spirituality

“…You have 6 hours a day for each of those… technically”
Beyond The Race Matt The Bear NovakovichSuggestions from the Bear on this balancing act, if you want to watch TV and play video games, that’s fine, get on your treadmill and do it or take advantage of those commercial breaks. There is no reason why the little ones can’t join in it too. Yes, on the course it’s a competition and being prepared is key, but make sure to set aside time for friends and family, hikes are great and you don’t have to ALWAYS be training at 110%.
Beyond The Race Matt The Bear NovakovichNow for nutrition, eat what makes you happy. If that’s simple sugars, go for it! Just keep in mind you don’t have to finish your plate. As long as you’re not literally in a training session or on the race course “it’s okay to be hungry.” Matt makes sure to keep his body fueled during workouts so that he can successfully reach his competitive goals, outside of that you really don’t have to stress so much.

One of his absolute favorites is the McDonalds Fruit & Maple Oatmeal.

Beyond The Race Matt The Bear NovakovichBy making sure to leave anxiety at the door and choosing what is important to you at each present moment, your goals, whatever they may be, are more than in reach. Life isn’t about sacrificing one thing for another and shouldn’t be either.
Beyond The Race Matt The Bear Novakovich