For the second year in a row, the Spartan World Championship will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This year’s championship race distance will be cut in half: Instead of a 21K Beast, as was the 2021 Spartan World Championship event, this year's deciding race will be a Super 10K for only the second time in Spartan history.
Although a few big names from the 2022 season won’t be making the trip to Abu Dhabi (like Emma Cook-Clarke, Ida Mathilde Steensgaard, and Alexandra Walker), several new contenders are hoping to steal Lindsay Webster’s crown this year. Let’s take a look at the main contenders.
The 2022 Spartan World Championship Contenders: Who Will Finish out the Year Strongest?
We hadn’t seen much of Alisa after her 3rd-place finish at last year’s Spartan World Championship until she finished 2nd overall at the Trifecta World Championship a few weeks ago.
Alisa’s only other Spartan races this year were a few local races, but their location is key: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE. No woman will be more comfortable running on sandy terrain in the hot desert than Alisa. She has also been living in the UAE for a while, so jet lag and travel issues won’t affect Alisa, unlike most of her competitors.
Last year’s runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi was not a fluke: After a rough first half of the season due to injuries, Annie has been rounding into form just in time to contend for another Spartan World Championship podium.
After watching Lindsay, Alisa, and Emma all miss their Spear Throw halfway through last year’s race, Annie capitalized and moved into 2nd place on the next climb. One thing Annie does better than anyone in the women’s field is avoid obstacle failures, and I can see that keeping her podium contention once again this year.
I’ve been hyping Eszter for years, and this is finally the year that OCR fans outside of Europe will see how good Eszter Hortobagyiova is.
Eszter is the best racer that most OCR fans probably never heard of before she won all three races at the Trifecta World Championship a few weeks ago. Did you know she also surpassed Faye Stenning for the most Elite podiums all-time after winning the Super that weekend? Only two women have beaten two-time Spartan World Champion Zuzana Kocumova multiple times in their career: Lindsay Webster (two times) and Eszter (four times). As good as Emma Cook-Clarke has been all season, Eszter might be Lindsay’s toughest test yet.
Just one week after finishing 3rd overall at the Trifecta World Championship in Greece, Kris obliterated the previous female record for most miles at World’s Toughest Mudder (90) by running 100 miles. She continues to defy logic with her ability to quickly recover from 24-hour efforts, so I have no doubt that Kris will be “fresh” in Abu Dhabi. She won’t be a stranger to running on sand, as she made a stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park last week to prep for the terrain in Abu Dhabi.
Lindsay hasn’t lost a Spartan race since September 2019, and she won her third Spartan World Championship last year in Abu Dhabi. In fact, no one registered for this weekend’s race has ever beaten Lindsay even once in a Spartan. If she wins this weekend, Lindsay will break a three-way tie with Hobie Call and Myriam Guillot-Boisset for the most consecutive wins in Spartan history (16).
I can’t think of a more fitting way for Lindsay to “retire from racing” than by taking home her fourth career Spartan World Champion title.
With a 5th-place finish in Abu Dhabi last year, Myriam notched her 5th career top-10 placement at a Spartan World Championship. Obstacle failures have been a source of frustration throughout Myriam’s career at major races. She finished 8th at the 2016 Spartan World Championship despite doing 300 burpees (not a typo).
As she is never one to go out conservatively, you should expect Myriam to surge to the front and use footspeed to her advantage before she inevitably is forced to do a penalty loop.
Although Rose only ended up on the North American Elite Series podium once this season (2nd in Utah), her performance level (in terms of percent behind the winner) has actually been consistent the past few seasons. After two 4th-place finishes at the Trifecta World Championship in Greece, Rose is making her second flight across the Atlantic Ocean in three weeks.
Rose has probably been dreaming of this type of World Championship course (a relatively flat Super) ever since she made her Spartan debut back in 2013. If there ever was a Spartan World Championship race for Rose to improve upon her lifetime best 5th-place finishes (2015 and 2016), this is it.
Predicting the Top 5 Female Finishers for the Spartan World Championship
It’s time to make some predictions. Here’s who I think will finish in the top five, in order:
1. Lindsay Webster
2. Eszter Hortobagyiova
3. Alisa Petrova
4. Annie Dube
5. Kris Rugloski
Other women who weren’t listed above but have a good shot at cracking the top 10 include:
- Janka Pepova (9th last year)
- Ulrikke Evensen (12th last year)
- Andrea Berquez (19th last year)
- Sandi Menchi Abahan (21st last year)