Every month since 2020 the Spartan Power Rankings has listed the top 10 Elite male and female racers in the world. The rankings were predominantly based on recent accomplishments and results, with some consideration given to overall athlete resumes and future predictors of success. They were based on some data analysis, but more so the eye test, which, of course, is subjective.
For the final, year-end rankings of 2022, the criteria will remain the same, but the athletes ranked this month are about to change. We are going to end the year with a Spartan salute to the Age Group! AROO! AROO! AROO!!!
Making each month's picks is Spartan Pro Kevin Donoghue. A Spartan Pro Team member from 2015-21, he has amassed more than 177 combined podium appearances during his illustrious career and captured 127 Age Group victories. In addition to his brilliance on the course, he's also a veteran Spartan broadcaster, having called three Spartan World Championships. (He's even the host of the Spartan workout video series, Daily Burn Spartan.)
After the conclusion of the inaugural Age Group US National Series — a five-race series across the 50 states that featured a mix of seasoned Spartan veterans, decorated athletes, and Kids race graduates — the Sparta Trifecta World Championship, and the 2022 Abu Dhabi Spartan World Championship in early December, most of the world's greatest Age Group obstacle course racers of 2022 have been identified. For each Age Division (14-17 through 60+, men and women), here are the top 10 most impressive Age Group athletes of 2022!
Have a gripe with one of Kevin's picks? Bury it deep inside and let it fuel your 2023 training.
Let the debate begin!
The Top 10 Age Group Spartan Racers in the World Right Now: The Men
1. Cole DeRosa (50-54)
When you're talking about the top Age Group men, it begins with this man. In 2022, Cole accomplished something that can't be celebrated enough until enough years go by to put it in proper perspective. He won the U.S. National Series (USNS), the Sparta Trifecta World Championship, and the Spartan AG World Championship in Abu Dhabi. (It was the first ever Spartan AG "Triple Crown.")
But he is no one-hit wonder: His USNS and Sparta Trifecta WC Age Group wins were repeat championships (2021 and 2022), and this season, he also became just the third man to ever eclipse 100 combined Spartan podiums in a single career.
2. Ireland MacBradaigh (45-49)
This might be the most loaded categories in all of the Age Groups. Ireland had some tremendous performances this year, highlighted by second place in the Abu Dhabi AG championship, and was the top American male in the 45-49 AG at the Sparta Trifecta WC.
Other notable men in this division include USNS Champ Kirk Framke, Marcud Madrid, and Bruce Jackson.
3. "Fast" Eddie Sanchez (40-44)
The USNS champion of this Age Group is an absolute force every time he toes the start line. But he didn't come into Spartan as a polished runner who just had to figure out the obstacles. He has worked himself into one of the best around with grit and perseverance, and he also outran a lot of personal demons to get to this level and is a great role model for all who speak to him.
Damir Akmadiyev, Dustin Livengood, and Adam Bogy are some of the other men that make this one of the toughest AG divisions in Spartan.
4. Jeff Shady (35-39)
One of the most underrated Spartan men, no more. Jeff has been slaying it for years. The guy who challenged him and made this choice difficult was Shane Terry, the 2022 Spartan USNS Champ for ages 35-39.
5. Scott Giltner (30-34)
Scott won the USNS Championship for his Age Group, holding off tough competitors such as Noah Grime and John Wright.
6. Eduard Korat (55-59)
If you have paying attention for the last four to five years, you know who this man is: the 2022 USNS champion. (However, a guy named Joe Rivera did make this choice pretty tough!)
7. Ethan Tucker (14-17)
I've watched this young pup kill it since his days at the Kids World Championship! In the next few years, I expect him to do great things in the Elite field (and dudes like Grayson Donberg will be right on his heals).
8. Jhovany Mendoza (25-29)
9. Talon Matern (18-24)
10. Patrick Bodwell (60+)
The Top 10 Age Group Spartan Racers in the World Right Now: The Women
1. Heather Gollnick (50-54)
Like Cole DeRosa, Heather went undefeated to win the USNS, but she took it to a whole other level in Sparta by sweeping every race.
2. Stephanie Hillman (35-39)
Like Heather, Stephanie is one of the few athletes who swept every race to win the USNS. She's pure excellence, personified.
3. and 4. The Thoreson Family! (40-44), (14-17)
Thoreson mom Lindsey holds it down in the 40-44, having taken second in the USNS, and her daughters, Gracie and Naomi, took second and fifth respectively in the 14-17 Age Group. As a family (with dad Rob competing at a high level, also) they have been acquiring podiums like bitcoin!
The queens of these divisions in 2022, however, were Chloe Melikian (40-44) and Rachel Koehler (14-17), who both won the USNS for their respective AG.
5. Darla O'Connor (55- 59)
Well coached, fierce, and passionate, Darla won the USNS in dominant fashion, and shows no signs of slowing down.
6. The Simpsons (30-34)
OK, admittedly, I have no idea if Candace Simpson and Casey Simpson are related. But whether they are sisters, twins, cousins — whatever — the amazing thing is that they tied in this division for the USNS Championship!
7. Hayley Brogan (25-29)
Hayley had to fight off rising star Kara Vandooijeweert to win the 2022 USNS title, but she was victorious.
8. Jessica Radford (45-49)
Watch out, Heather Gollnick. When Jessica graduates to the 50-54 Age Group, she will be bringing a lot of speed with her.
9. Abigail Blatchford (18-24)
Speaking of speed, Abigail (who, like Jessica, won the 2022 USNS title) could make the jump into the Elite ranks very soon.
10. Deborah Arsen (60+)
This year, Deborah dominated the field to win the USNS by over 1,100 points!