Spartan Games 2.0 Presented by U.S. Air Force Special Warfare pits 16 elite athletes against each other in the ultimate test of fitness. The five-part series airs weekly on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch each episode on Outside TV, SpartanTV, and Spartan YouTube.
With the introduction of plenty of fresh faces and insanely daunting and diverse new challenges, Spartan Games 2.0's Episode 1 provided little solace for those looking to prematurely place their bets on which of the season's 16 elite athletes will earn the title of the fittest.
Will reigning Spartan World Champions Lindsay Webster and Ryan Atkins once again sweep the Spartan Games podium? Will the youngest Spartan race winner ever, Veejay Jones, overcome his uneasiness around heavy weights and rise to the top? Will Games newcomer Lauren Weeks' adaptability shake up the competition entirely?
Here's how the Spartan Games 2.0 athletes showed out and stacked up after the first day of competition, where the men and women went head-to-head over DEKA HEAVY and the U.S. Air Force Special Warfare "No Guts, No Glory" PAST (Physical Ability Stamina Test).
Spartan Games 2.0: Day 1
In true Spartan fashion, the first morning's weather in Big Bear Lake, California was about as miserable as possible as the athletes geared up for their first event: DEKA HEAVY.
"This is exactly what we wanted," Spartan's Vice President of Product David Watson said. "It's 30-something degrees Fahrenheit, zero degrees Celsius out here. We've got heavy equipment. People are sweating despite the temperature. We're really pushing the best athletes to the limit."
Challenge 1: DEKA HEAVY
Designed specifically for the "one-percenters" of fitness, as DEKA Co-Creator and Director of Sport Yancy Culp, DEKA HEAVY features the following 10 signature functional fitness zones with gruelingly heavy loads and incredibly taxing demands.
1. Weighted Sprints
2. Weighted Burpees
3. Sled Push/Pull
4. Farmer's Carry
5. Ski Erg
8. Barbell Lifts
9. Fan Bike
10. Zercher Squats
Paired randomly, four rounds of women followed by four rounds of men completed the DEKA HEAVY challenge. The competitors were ranked and scored based on their total finish time. While athletes were permitted to skip any zone of their choosing, a skipped zone resulted in a time penalty.
Here's how the athletes faired in their first challenge of the season.
Challenge 2: The United States Air Force Special Warfare "No Guts, No Glory" PAST
With the cold, densely-foggy, rainy weather becoming increasingly harsh — so much so that it became impossible to get the camera crew out on the water — the day's second event, the United States Air Force Special Warfare "No Guts, No Glory" PAST (Physical Ability Stamina Test), began to unfold on the shore of the piercingly-cold Big Bear Lake.
"I was actually out there setting the buoys up and talking to Master Sergeant Neely about the conditions, and I got a little soft," Mike Morris, Spartan's former Vice President of Production, said. "I said, "Hey, what if we just adjust the standard or make this a bonus round?' He looked at me real serious and said, 'Bullets don't care about weather. It's the f****** standard.'"
Used to assess a candidate's physical ability for entry into the United States Air Force career field, the PAST tests for six unique challenges. The 16 Spartan Games athletes were tasked with reaching the standard for the following challenges.
1. 2 minutes of pull-ups (a minimum of 8 required to pass)
2. 2 minutes of sit-ups (a minimum of 50 required to pass)
3. 2 minutes of push-ups (a minimum of 40 required to pass)
4. A 1.5-mile run (must be completed in 10 minutes and 20 seconds to pass)
5. 50 meters of underwater swimming (pass or fail)
6. A 500-meter surface water swim (must be completed in 12 minutes and 30 seconds to pass)
There was just one catch: If an athlete failed to reach the benchmark for any one of their six tests, they would still be required to complete the remaining challenges but would be awarded zero points for the PAST event. Failure to complete the remaining challenges would result in disqualification from Spartan Games as a whole.
Through whipping shoreline winds, strong currents, and swallowed lake water, only three women and four men met the standards to pass the PAST — less than half of the overall contestants. While Ryan Kent received a 30-second penalty for repeatedly boosting himself off of the lake's bottom and Tim Simansky argued against having to complete the swimming challenges after he failed to meet the required run time, all 16 athletes did at least attempt each of the events, as per the rules.
The Final Day 1 Leaderboard
The first competitive day of the Spartan Games 2.0 season pushed the 16 elite athletes far outside of each of their comfort zones. World-renowned Ultra runners braved a heavyweight challenge, CrossFitters took on a foot race against the fastest names in obstacle course racing, and every competitor braved the unrelenting Big Bear Lake elements out on choppy open waters.
"This day took a lot out of me, emotionally and physically," Corinna Coffin said. "I was proud of all of us after [the PAST] because it was clearly something way out of all of our comfort zones."
With a quarter of the athletes still standing at zero points and last season's winners, Lindsay Webster and Ryan Atkins, both occupying third-place positions, here are the female and male leaderboards coming out of Episode 2.
U.S. Air Force Special Warfare takes mental and physical toughness to the next level, which is why they were the perfect partner for this year’s Spartan Games. To learn more about the heroes who make up the top 1% of the 1%, click here.