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 US Championship Series Kicks Off in San Jose

The first race of the 2018 Spartan U.S. National Championship Series was held on March 24, just outside of San Jose, CA, in Diablo Grande. The hills provided a leg burning challenge with very few breaks and the obstacles included all of my favorite classics.

I jumped into the corral for the 8:30 a.m. heat. The sun was barely over the ridge and just beginning to warm the air, which was most welcome. We were off and headed to the first obstacle, the over walls. This was followed by “Mud Misery” and a shallow water crossing. My frozen toes thawed quickly as we ascended the first of many hills. Just when we thought we had reached the top, there was another hill to climb…and another. When we finally did reach the top, we found the monkey bars perched all alone, with the most amazing view.

I met a couple of people I had been pacing with, John and Karen. It was her first Spartan Race and she crossed the monkey bars the first time! I was so impressed! I made it across as well, enjoying the scenery as I hit the bell.

The hills continued and I found that going down was just about as challenging as up. It was so steep that it made it very difficult to run a large portion of it. We came to the Sandbag Carry and it was definitely a challenge. It was long, slow, and steep. I was very thankful that it didn’t start raining yet because the downhill portion of the carry would have been brutal if it was muddy.

The Bucket Carry 2.0 had sealed lids so you didn’t have to fill them. I really like this version as it saves time and there’s no way to spill the gravel. The route didn’t look as bad as I was expecting, which seemed a little odd for Spartan. Sure enough…once we rounded a corner there was a little hill of doom staring back at us! It was short and super steep and definitely provided a challenge. Next, was a 6-foot wall and, finally, a nice long gradual downhill portion that took us back into the festival area. This is where it gets fun…..it was jam-packed with obstacle after obstacle: the Tire Flip, Sled Drag, Atlas Carry, Olympus, Herc Hoist, and Spear Throw. Not only was this fun for the racers, but it was really nice having a viewing are for the spectators which included so many obstacles.

Next was the back half of the course. Last year this section was somewhat forgiving, with rolling hills and obstacles, but this year they surprised us with several hills and one very special one towards the end (I think I may have heard a bad word or two here). It was probably the steepest hill we had during the entire race. We trudged up, putting one foot slowly in front of the other, until we finally reached the top. The rain had started and it made it very slippery coming back down.

As we continued, we came to a second barbed wire crawl that went uphill. It was built pretty high so we were able to make quick work of it with a bear crawl. The final few obstacles seemed to be set up in an odd order. We reached the Dunk Wall, which had very steep mud mounds, proceeded to the Slip Wall, and then the Inverted Wall and the Rig. The Rig was going to be hard with wet hands. There was a cute little gal on the sidelines sharing her towel and cheering us on. I dried them the best I could but still dropped off the rig. She blew me a kiss as I thanked her and ran towards the finish line….so sweet! I “fire jumped” over the finish mat and the San Jose Spartan Super was in the books!

I ran the Sprint the next day and ended up pacing with John and Karen again! What are the odds of running into them with all of the other racers? The hills didn’t seem quite as bad and the company made it a lot of fun. Two successful races, a beautiful venue, and terrific people….who could ask for more?! Definitely, give this venue a try if you have the opportunity.

Here’s a little trivia to wrap things up:

  1. According to SpartanRace.com, the fastest time for completing the San Jose Super prior to this race was 80 minutes (2018 results were not official at the time of writing this review). 1
  2. “Mount Diablo is sacred to many California Native American peoples; according to Miwok mythology and Ohlone mythology, it was the point of creation”. 2
  3. “What animated film boasts a San Jose State University Spartans scoreboard in the background of a track race scene? If you answered “The Incredibles,” then you’re correct! Animation/illustration alum Doug Nichols showed his Spartan Pride”! 3

Stay tuned for the remaining U.S. National Championship Series races:

4/14   Seattle
5/19   SoCal
6/23  Chicago
7/28   Utah

Live strong, be kind, play hard… Aroo!

Photo credit: Kim Collings, Spartan Race, Mike Suelzle

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References:
1 Spartan Race Results: http://www.spartanrace.com.au/en/race/detail/3154/results
2 Mt. Diablo Point of Creation: https://www.spartan.com/en/race/detail/3154/overview
3 San Jose State Spartans Scoreboard: https://www.facebook.com/search/SJSU Scoreboard

Spartan World Championship Results 2016 (Men)

2016-spartan-championship

Hobie Call surprised the OCR world by winning the 2016 Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe Saturday morning. Call stayed mostly quiet for the bulk of the season, then showed up yesterday and beat out a stellar field.

In 2016, 39 year old Hobie did participate in (and win) 2 BoneFrogs, the Utah BattleFrog, and The Utah Spartan Super. The last being his ticket, er coin, to Tahoe. This, however, is a far cry from the 20 plus races a year he used to do show up and dominate, prior to his first (sort of) retirement.

Not many expected Call to be victorious after he stayed mostly quiet and did not participate in the 5 race US Spartan Points Series. The 3 men who battled it out all year for that series were Ryan Atkins, last year’s Spartan Champ Robert Killian, and Hunter McIntyre (who has yet to win the big Spartan dance). They finished 2nd, 3rd, and 6th respectively.

Here are the rest of today’s top male finishers:

2016-world-champion-hobie-call

 

 

1 Hobie Call 2:25:33
2 Ryan Atkins 2:25:59
3 Robert Killian 2:28:10
4 Jon Albon 2:29:30
5 Cody Moat 2:32:30
6 Hunter McIntyre 2:33:09
7 Peter Ziska 2:33:53
8 Chad Trammell 2:37:22
9 Isaiah Vidal 2:37:33
10 Glen Racz 2:38:36

 

 

 

 

Spartan World Champions History

Year          Venue                           Winner                         2nd                              3rd

2011         Glen Rose TX            Hobie Call              Josiah Middaugh        Junyong Pak

2012        Killington, VT            Cody Moat              Hobie Call                    Brakken Kraker

2013        Killington, VT            Hobie Call               Matt Murphy              Hunter McIntyre

2014        Killington, VT            Jon Albon              Ryan Atkins                  Cody Moat

2015       Squaw Valley, CA       Robert Killian       Ryan Atkins                  Cody Moat

2016      Squaw Valley, CA        Hobie Call              Ryan Atkins                  Robert Killian

 

Train Like a Pro: Faye Stenning & Josh Stryde

Faye Stenning ran her first Spartan Race in 2013. Two years later, she placed ninth at the 2015 Spartan World Championships. This year, Stenning joined the Reebok Spartan Pro Team and continued her success by finishing second or better in each of the five Spartan U.S. Championship Series races. Her 1197 points in the inaugural series was good enough for second and only three points behind winner, Lindsay Webster.

Faye-Stenning-Medal-Picture

Though Stenning does have a background in track and cross country, success like this comes from a number of areas, including a great training regimen. The following workout is one that she designed with boyfriend Josh Stryde. Stryde, himself, is part of the Western Canadian Spartan Elite Team. He’s also the Calgary Place World Health Regional Nutrition Director.

The workout comes in four parts. Try to rest as little as possible throughout since you don’t get much, if any, during a race. Stenning and Stryde perform this weekly.

Pro Tip: Stay positive throughout and work your way up each time. Don’t use the workout too close to race day. As you’ll see, if you do it right, you’ll be too drained to perform at your best. Give yourself at least a week if you have an upcoming race.

Faye-Stenning-and-Josh-Stryde
PART ONE
TREADMILL HILL CLIMB WITH MEDICINE BALL (10-15 minutes)

Set a treadmill to an incline that will make you uncomfortable. Try increasing the level each time you do the workout. If you become comfortable with the incline, you know it’s time to bump it up. Every minute, get off the treadmill and do five burpees. Keep the timer running when you do your burpees. Most treadmills shut off after 30 seconds, so try to perform the burpees in that time frame. Hold the medicine ball however you feel comfortable. Stenning loads it onto her shoulder, while Stryde alternates between shoulder and front, to simulate a bucket carry. Stenning normally does 12 minutes at an incline of 15 and speed of 4.0, using a 40-pound medicine ball.

Writer’s Tip: If you don’t have a medicine ball, find something other than dumbbells to carry. Anything that would give you the option to carry it on your shoulder or in front of your body. I used an open bag of grass seed weighing about 35-pounds that I had in my garage. If you do that, just make sure it’s sealed up!

Josh-Stryde-Loaded-Incline

PART TWO
EMOM/Every Minute on the Minute (15-30 minutes)

Alternate between the following three each minute.

  • Hook a TRX strap up to the end of a weight sled. Run forward, dragging the sled behind you. Go as far as you can for one minute. If you don’t have a strap to attach, push the sled instead. Stenning and Stryde use four 45-pound plates on the sled.
  • Hop on a fan/air bike and go as hard as you can (bike or row) for one minute. If you don’t have access to a fan bike, use a stationary bike and pedal as fast as possible on as high of a resistance as you can stand.
  • Do between 5-15 toes to bar, depending on your core and grip strength. Grab a pull up bar with an overhand grip, roughly shoulder width apart. Engage your core and lift your toes up to the bar. If you’re unable to do toes to bar, do knees to elbows or knee raises instead.

Pro Purpose: This part of the workout hits your entire body. The sled drag gives your lower body strength and power, which helps for hill climbs. The bike portion is great for general aerobic conditioning and the toes to bar gives your core and grip both strength and endurance training.

Pro Tip: Try adding a couple minutes to this part each time you do the workout.

Writer’s Tip:If you don’t have access to a sled, you can take a larger weight plate (45-pound should work) and put it on the ground, flat part down, and push the plate. Add a dumbbell for extra weight.  Another option is to put a treadmill on an incline and turn it off. Then, hold onto the sides and run for the minute.

Faye-Stenning-Sled-Drags

PART THREE
MAX HOLD: SINGLE-ARM DEAD HANG

Grab a bar with one arm and hang for as long as you can, then switch arms. Your only rest is doing the opposite arm. Do three sets per arm.

Pro Purpose: This improves grip strength, while also getting you used to being supported on one arm. This will help on obstacles like rigs and monkey bars.

Writer’s Tip: If you aren’t strong enough to do single-arm, throw a towel over one end of the bar and grab it with the opposite hand. Focus on mainly using whichever side is holding the bar, and only use the other to lightly hold the towel, giving yourself some support. This doesn’t give your arms much rest, but will allow you to work your way up to using one arm.

Faye-Stenning-Monterey-Rig

PART FOUR
FOUR SUPER SETS

Do the first exercise, then move right onto the second.

  • Hold a weight plate with a pinch grip in each hand and walk, like you would for a farmer’s carry. Your distance is determined by how long you’re able to hold the plates before putting them down. Aim to hit the same distance each set. Also, try only squeezing with your fingertips. Stenning considers it cheating if you’re using the edge of the plate to hook your fingers around.
  • Do 15 reps of barbell bent-over row.

Pro Purpose: Doing these at the end of your workout will help to burn out your grip.

Writer’s Tip: To avoid cheating, use two plates per hand and press them together so that the flat sides face out. This removes the temptation to hook your fingers around the edges.

Writer’s Note: Thank you to Josh and Faye for sharing this workout. You can follow Faye on both Instagram and Facebook. Follow Josh on Instagram

Photo Credit: Faye Stenning’s Facebook Page, Faye Stenning, Spartan Race