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.
Spartan Games 2.0's staggering altitude, wicked weather, and unexpected challenges have tested, humbled, and strengthened this season's athletes over the course of three days of competition. Before the sun rose in Big Bear Lake, California for the fourth and final day of challenges, the 16 athletes awoke ready to prove themselves the fittest once and for all.
With just two challenges remaining, Ryan Atkins held a solid lead for the men (138 points), followed by Hunter McIntyre (114) and Ryan Kent (104), while Lauren Weeks (138) maintained her lead over reigning Spartan Games champion, Lindsay Webster (123), and Corinna Coffin (113).
Here's how the Spartan Games 2.0 athletes showed out and stacked up after the fourth and final day of competition, where the men and women faced the season's secret challenge — the Special Warfare Hero Within Challenge — and the Atlas Stones.
Spartan Games 2.0: Day 4
In near-complete darkness, the athletes boarded their respective vans in Day 4's earliest hours, only beginning to talk amongst themselves once the sun had poked out from behind the San Bernardino Mountains. And it wasn't just the hangover of the previous day's challenges — the competition's longest day — that kept them relatively quiet. As they boarded the vans, the athletes were processing the demands of the challenge they were about to undertake, one that — until the night before — had been a complete mystery.
Challenge 1: Special Warfare Hero Within Challenge
The Special Warfare Hero Within Challenge was designed specifically to honor Master Sergeant Ivan Ruiz, a U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Pararescueman who was attached to a Special Forces team during an assault on an enemy compound. When he and two team members were attacked by insurgents, Ruiz successfully took out one of them, but his two teammates were wounded in the attack.
Disregarding his own safety, Ruiz sprinted across the open courtyard, dodging gunfire and hand grenades until he was able to reach the wounded and drag them to safety. After treating them, Ruiz returned to help clear the compound of combatants.
The Games' shoot, move, and communicate challenge mimics the bravery, grit, and perseverance that Ruiz exemplified with four components: three rounds consisting of varying heavy carries and drags and three shots at increasingly small steel targets, all followed by a 1-mile ruck up incredibly steep terrain, comprising the fourth round. The rounds were designed as follows:
- Round 1: a 50-meter Titan Husacross carry and 10 rounds fired across 30 meters at a large steel target, with each missed shot resulting in a 10-second time penalty.
- Round 2: a 50-meter farmers carry, followed by 10 rounds fired across 30 meters at a smaller steel target, with the same time penalty for missed shots
- Round 3: a 50-meter Airman carry, then three magazines with three rounds each are dispersed to each athlete, when they will load and unload the weapon, shooting nine rounds without missing (or incur a 10-second penalty)
- Round 4: Men don a 60-pound ruck and women wear 40 pounds while completing a 1-mile run up a mountain.
With all eyes on four-time Tactical Games champion Tim Simansky and some athletes touching a gun for the first time in their lives, the competitors tackled the Hero Within Challenge one by one, beginning with the men. After all four rounds, Simansky was indeed the only competitor to finish without a single time penalty. However, he was nonetheless unable to snag a top-three leaderboard spot, largely attributable to the superior endurance of athletes such as McIntyre and Atkins, who took first and second for the men, respectively.
And similar to last season, Coffin earned a win over Webster, inching her into second place. This meant that the battle for the finishing spot in second place would once again come down to the final challenge.
Challenge 2: Atlas Stones
The final event — the athletes' last chance to prove their mettle — the Atlas Stones would prove the perfect event for McIntyre and Kent (two functional fitness mavens) to put the pressure on Atkins in first. And with Coffin just seven points behind Webster going into the final challenge, the stones held enormous weight — both literally and figuratively — in determining what the final leaderboard would look like.
The Atlas Stones event consisted of three, 60-second elimination rounds with a 3-minute gap between rounds. Every round, the weights increased. Men began with 70 pounds and increased to 100 and 150 pounds in rounds two and three, while the women started with 50 pounds and increased to 70 and 100 pounds in rounds two and three. The objective? Complete as many over-the-shoulder reps in the 60-second time period. The top four competitors from round one progressed to round two, while round three became a showdown between the final two competitors on both the male and female sides.
The final matchups came down to McIntyre versus Kent and Coffin versus Meg Reardon (with Atkins and Webster both falling outside of top-three finishing spots) before powerhouses McIntyre and Reardon ultimately overtook their opponents.
Spartan Games 2.0 Final Leaderboard
Despite their Atlas Stone losses, Atkins was able to hold onto his first-place lead, and while Webster was unable to secure second place due to Coffin's success at the Stones, she slid into third by just three points (and not without putting up a fight).
Four days of blood, sweat, tears, and pure dedication in the mountains of Big Bear Lake brought out the best in this season's 16 elite athletes, pushing individuals from diverse athletic backgrounds out of their comfort zones and to the very brink of what each thought was physically and mentally possible.
In the end, Atkins earned the title of two-time Spartan Games champion by just four points, and Spartan Games newcomer and two-time Hyrox World Champion Lauren Weeks' diverse fitness portfolio and adaptability allowed her to not just skate by into first place, but to absolutely dominate the playing field, winning by nearly 30 points.
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.