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.
After foggy conditions on Day 1 of the Spartan Games 2.0 challenges made the boat drop-in during the Air Force Special Warfare "No Guts, No Glory" PAST's swim impossible, David Watson, Spartan's Vice President of Product, and Mike Morris, Spartan's former Vice President of Production, began to assess the possibility that athletes may gain ground on the leaderboard by taking advantage of certain gray areas within the challenges.
The discussion began with DEKA FIT and MILE world record holder Ryan Kent's pushing off of the lake bottom during the PAST — after being told not to touch the bottom — to propel himself forward while swimming, which resulted in a 30-second penalty added to his previous standing on Day 1's leaderboard. To see the full leaderboards for DEKA HEAVY and the Air Force Special Warfare "No Guts, No Glory" PAST, click here.
Going into Day 2 (and the rest of the Spartan Games 2.0 competition), the judges vowed to pay close attention to those gray areas to maintain competitive fairness.
Here's how the Spartan Games 2.0 athletes showed out and stacked up after the second day of competition, where the men and women battled it out over Spartan Cross and a Trail half-marathon race.
Spartan Games 2.0: Day 2
The Games' 16 elite athletes reconvened on the 22-degree early morning of Day 2 to take on Spartan Cross, a shorter — but more intense — version of a Spartan OCR course with wildcards such as heavier Hercules Hoist loads thrown into the mix. This event tests obstacle proficiency to the highest degree while driving athletes' heart rates through the roof with multiple short, obstacle-dense laps of the same course.
Challenge 1: Spartan Cross
"We want to see a really fast, furious race, where everybody's attempting the obstacles," Watson said. "In the spirit of Spartan and Air Force Special Warfare, the three pass/fail obstacles have been upgraded to a two-minute time penalty, including the Hercules Hoist."
With some of the athletes approaching an obstacle course race for the first time ever, the men took off first on the rocky, undulating, and incredibly fast course in Big Bear Lake, California, followed by the women.
After an immense effort, reigning Spartan World Champion Ryan Atkins came in first place for the men, trailed closely by his on-course rival and the youngest Spartan race winner ever, Veejay Jones, whose following distance behind Atkins increased with each painful, rocky Barbed Wire Crawl (or roll, in Jones' case). And after prematurely dropping the weight in one round of the Hercules Hoist, Ryan Kent racked up yet another penalty, along with American Ninja Warrior finalist Mack Roesch.
In the women's race, ultra runner and DEKA MILE world record holder Kris Rugloski held a solid lead to start, before the Big Bear Lake air began to burn her lungs and three-time Spartan World Champion Lindsay Webster — followed by current and two-time Hyrox World Champion Lauren Weeks — overtook her to take first and second place, respectively. Two-minute penalties were issued to Arielle Miller and Ariana Scalfo.
These are the final athlete standings followed Day 2's Spartan Cross competition.
Challenge 2: Trail Half-Marathon
Later that same day, the athletes prepared to conquer a half-marathon Trail run with 2,200 feet of vertical elevation gain across what Race Course Manager Steve Hammond called one of the most beautiful courses ever. But there was one catch: The competitors were required to wear a 5.11 weighted vest (14 pounds for the women and 20 pounds for the men) for the first two miles of the race.
"This is a grueling, grueling thing to do at altitude, at Big Bear Lake, with that kind of elevation gain and loss," Watson said. "The Trail half-marathon is no joke."
After 13.1 miles of sheer mountainous beauty and intense physical and mental pain, Atkins finished first for the men once again. With a time of 1 hour and 33 minutes, the Spartan World Champion was followed up by reigning Hyrox World Champion Hunter McIntyre, who beat out Jones by just under two minutes.
Webster pulled her second win of the day with a finishing time of 1 hour and 47 minutes, succeeded by Weeks — just three minutes later — and Rugloski, who crossed the finish in just over 2 hours.
The Final Day 2 Leaderboard
With Atkins rising to first place after a day full of events specifically within his own wheelhouse, Kent and McIntyre dropped to second and third place, respectively. Reminiscent of Spartan Games' previous season, Webster and former triathlete Corinna Coffin continue to battle it out over second and third place, while Weeks was able to successfully carry her Day 1 lead into the end of Day 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.