Every month, the Spartan Power Rankings lists the top 10 male and female racers in the world right now. The rankings are predominantly based on recent accomplishments and results, with some consideration given to overall athlete resumes and future predictors of success. They are based on data analysis, but also the eye test, which of course is subjective.
It's important to note that racers who have not yet completed a Spartan Sprint, Super, Beast, Stadion, or Ultra this year are not eligible for the ranking. As a result, such superstars as Ryan Atkins, Lindsay Webster, and Ryan Kent — as well as some elite international racers — are not in this month's rankings. (We expect that to change, of course, in short order.)
Making each month's picks is none other than Spartan pro Kevin Donoghue. A Spartan Pro Team member since 2015, he has amassed 147 podium appearances during his illustrious career and captured 106 Age Group victories. In addition to his brilliance on the course, he's also a veteran Spartan broadcaster, having called three Spartan World Championships.
Have a gripe with one of his picks? (We know you will!) Let us know on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Let the debate begin!
The Top 10 Women Right Now
1. Nicole Mericle
The question wasn't if she'd be the highest ranked. The question was if I should just put her in her own category and focus on a list of Top 10 women not named Nicole Mericle. Until reinforcements start racing again, this is the biggest talent gap in the sport.
2. Myriam Guillot-Boisset
Before 2019 she was good for at least 90 burpees every time she raced. She was always the super-talented runner who struggled mightily on obstacles. At the last World Championship in Tahoe she finally put it all together, and her Jacksonville performance just backed that up.
3. Alex Walker
Eighteen seconds. She was just 18 seconds from taking third at the Jacksonville Sprint after a Spear Throw miss and subsequent penalty loop. There are only a handful of women who have a complete toolbox of skills in this sport, and she is one of them. She will be a podium threat in every Spartan she competes in this year.
4. Rose Wetzel
This savvy vet just keeps grinding out gutty performances. The pack has definitely caught up to her these past five years, but she just keeps reminding all of us that she is still a gamer, is talented, and can still earn podiums.
5. Ashley O'Hara
She raced her guts out in Jacksonville, and that was reflected in her near-podium finish.
6. Natalie Miano
After a third-place finish at Jacksonville in 2019, seventh place must have been disappointing. But the fact that she was just over a minute out of third shows that she can still get it done at a super high level.
7. Annie Dube
She marked the Tahoe course with Steve Hammond as a volunteer in 2018 to secure her Age Group World Championship entry. She promptly went on to win the 25-29 Age Group World Championship and then started competing in Elites. Now she's a serious podium threat in every race she enters.
8. Kaci Monroe
Considering she just had a baby four months ago, a ninth-place finish in Jacksonville is extraordinary.
9. Ashley Heller
She's still on the mend from non-race-related injuries last year, and she admittedly ran "like poop" — her words — in Jacksonville. But she was still in the mix, and I would predict her to be a top 10 contender every time she toes the start line.
10. Tiffany Palmer
T Palm has been crushing the East Coast circuit for years and is racking up numbers that few only wish to achieve.
The Top 10 Men Right Now
1. Veejay Jones
The youngest person ever to stand on an Elite podium just added another U.S National Series victory to his resume. Never one to rely on his tremendous talent alone, every year he dedicates himself to improving. He trains smarter and adds resources. At only 23, he is a grizzled vet and is still developing as an athlete. That should absolutely scare the crap out of his competition.
2. Josiah Middaugh
In Spartan, you need the total package to be a champion. But if you have world-class trail-running ability, you're going to be a threat in any race you enter. He was giving Hobie Call a run for his money as early as 2011, and then stepped away to become an XTERRA legend. If he can figure out his obstacle game — he led the field for portions of the race — he can be one of the top five men in the sport.
3. Ryan Woods
Woods' accomplishments, speed, and improved obstacle efficiency over the past few seasons are all commendable. But he is no stranger to injuries, penalties, and controversy, either. He showed some veteran poise in Jacksonville, and if he can keep his act together and stay healthy, the opportunity to win another U.S. National Series is very much there.
4. Logan Broadbent
What a gutsy performance in Jacksonville. He stayed in the top 5 for the majority of the race and fought off Brian Gowiski and 2019 Jacksonville champ Ryan Kempson for the coveted bronze triangle. As a smaller athlete whose sweet spot isn't deep mud and water, this says a lot about where his game is right now.
5. Ryan Kempson
He stayed with Middaugh, in the second position, for much of Jacksonville. After a year's rest following his first injury-free season in 2019 — when he finished third overall in the U.S. National Series — he threw down a consistent performance. Expect Ryan to stick around here for a good bit.
6. Robert Killian
I know that he had a rough two days, but I'm not ready to bury Captain America on the bottom of this list because of it. He is still one of the few racers that got out and competed the day before the Jacksonville Sprint. He took third in the Super and did so after losing significant training time due to military service. Throw in the time he spent with our wounded veterans on the course, and he deserves some latitude.
7. Brian Gowiski
Gowiski is steady, skilled, and consistent. This U.S. Marine made the most of the poor conditions in Jacksonville to grind out a fourth-place finish and hold off some true speed demons in the process.
8. Kirk DeWindt
DeWindt rolled his ankle just two weeks before Jacksonville. His fitness must have been on point, though, to be able to handle the poor footing and miss a podium appearance by only 1:12. He's a great overall athlete who has excelled in everything from Stadions to Beasts.
9. Mark Batres
All Batres does is come out and finish in the top 10 in big races. Race after race. Year after year.
10. Mark Gaudet
He's not the first Army Ranger on this list, and he won't be the last. I'm looking forward to seeing what his race calendar looks like in March.