Similar to the first two days of the competition, Day 3 of Spartan Games™, presented by Harley-Davidson, touched on two completely opposite ends of the fitness spectrum.
First up was Spartan Wrestling, which obviously favored the stronger, more powerful participants. The second event of the day was the Spartan Trail Ultra, which shifted the balance of power back to the endurance specialists.
It's not about who's the strongest, the fastest, or the most mobile. It's about who's the most well-rounded. That was proven yet again in this episode, in spectacularly entertaining fashion.
These are the five craziest moments from Spartan Games, Episode 3. (You can watch the full episode, in its entirety, above.)
'I Am Not a Fighter'
Many of the athletes were not excited about the wrestling event. Some of them, in fact, were downright uncomfortable with it.
One of those on edge was triathlete and CrossFit competitor Faith Cooke, who doesn't brand herself a fighter.
"I am not a fighter," she said. "I was like, 'I don't want to hurt anybody!' Every time I was like, 'Are you OK?'"
You wouldn't know that by watching her compete, though. Cooke showed a great deal of natural ability — to go along with her sheer power — in defeating Kellyn Taylor, Sam Briggs, Corinna Coffin, Kristi O'Connell, and Emma Chapman to place first, earning a much-needed 25 points.
A Heavyweight Bout
Leading into Day 3, one of the most entertaining individual battles of the Games was the Tug of War between former NFL linebacker Curt Maggitt and Murph world record holder Hunter McIntyre. McIntyre edged Maggitt in that event by the slimmest of margins, and their wrestling match was another instant classic between two superhuman heavyweights. The Million Dollar Mile defender edged the former Indianapolis Colt again, earning 25 points and vaulting back into the Spartan Games lead.
Of particular note: Ryan Atkins, who was in first place following the La Ruta Mountain Bike Challenge on Day 2, didn't receive any points in the wrestling event and fell into second place, 19 points behind McIntyre.
'The Dumbest Course I've Ever Seen'
The seventh-fastest U.S. women's marathoner of all time, Taylor was not a fan of the Spartan Trail Ultra course, and she didn't hide her distaste for it.
"That's the dumbest course I've ever seen," she said. "It's not a course! I think it's kind of reckless. It's not really trail running. I'm not here to blow out my ACL or my MCL."
In the lead for a significant stretch of the race towards the beginning, Taylor ended up completing five laps (25 total miles) in just over four hours, finishing in fourth.
'One of the Coolest Things I've Ever Done'
Herman Demmink, one of the lesser-known competitors in the Games, was overcome with emotion after running 25 miles over four-and-a-half grueling hours. A medical sales rep, he has arguably been the biggest surprise story in Vermont. When Day 3 concluded, he sat in fifth place with 72 points, a remarkable achievement considering he is no longer an active professional athlete.
"This is one of the coolest things I've ever done," the emotional 37-year-old said, trying — and failing — to hold back tears. "My mom's in the hospital, my wife's covering our kids ... and I get to do this. It's pretty cool. This is awesome. Thank you guys for letting me come. Thank you."
Read more about Demmink's incredible path to the Games, and how he prepared for the competition in just 72 hours, here.
Back on Top
After subpar showings — subpar for them, that is — in the wrestling event, Atkins and Lindsay Webster ended Day 3 with a bang with first-place finishes in the Trail Ultra. A day after winning the La Ruta Mountain Bike Challenge, the husband-and-wife power couple won a second consecutive race to close out the day's action.
Webster managed to finish 30 miles in 5:33:49, just ahead of Lauren Weeks, who ran the same length in 5:41:33. On the men's side, Atkins finished 35 miles in 5:20:02, roughly 30 minutes quicker than Josiah Middaugh.
With just one day of competition remaining, Webster is in first place, just 10 points ahead of Coffin. On the men's side, first-place McIntyre leads Atkins by just two points.