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 some data analysis, but more so the eye test, which of course is subjective.
Making each month's picks is none other than Spartan pro Kevin Donoghue. A Spartan Pro Team member since 2015, he has amassed more than 150 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.
Another United States National Series race is in the books, and as championship season inches closer and closer, the top 20 is continuing to round into form and take shape.
After a hard-fought race in West Virginia, there's a new No. 1 racer on the men's side for the first time all year. On the women's side, a familiar face sits atop the rankings following another strong month. See who else rounds out the top 20 as the North American Championship in North Lake Tahoe looms.
Let the debate begin!
The Top 10 Women Right Now
1. Lindsay Webster
There's no debate here. After clinching the United States National Series with a predictably strong win in West Virginia, she can coast at the Big Bear Super. (Though we know she won't.)
2. Annie Dube
Though she finished fourth in the West Virginia Beast — she was victorious in the Sprint the following day — I believe she's the only legitimate threat to challenge Webster in the major races down the stretch. She is my favorite to win Big Bear, and is improving every race.
3. Alex Walker
Alex battled her way into second place in the West Virginia Beast before falling off the Multi Rig just before the finish. With 10 burpees left, Rose Wetzel completed the obstacle and secured second. But I STILL have Alex ranked AHEAD of Rose. Why? Keep reading...
4. Rose Wetzel
Though she is one of Spartan's most seasoned veterans, and is still able to compete with the best of them, her second-place performance in the West Virginia Beast revealed a rookie mistake. After reviewing the video, she used a clearly illegal move — though I don't believe it was intentional — on the Olympus (pressing of the knees into the rock climbing grips to gain leverage). This rule is explained in rule 4.2.9, Sec C.3. in the the official Spartan rulebook. Despite the illegal move, the race result is final: Wetzel finished in second, and Walker in third.
In a race that close, the subsequent penalty loop that Rose should have run would have made a difference in the result. That's why she's slotted behind Walker this month.
5. Rea Kolbl
She wasn't in West Virginia, but she's still lurking as she prepares for the Ultra World Championship in Telluride, Colorado.
6. Kaci Monroe
Kaci continues to cement herself as one of the most consistent performers of 2021. Her fifth-place performance in the West Virginia Beast was as solid as they come (and her start line warm-ups are legendary).
7. Kris Rugloski
Shockingly, West Virginia marked the first time she raced outside of Texas this season. She finished eighth in the West Virginia Beast, second in the Super — Annie Dube finished first — and second in the Sprint. (Alex Walker placed first.) She was the only woman to podium in all three races in what was a very impressive weekend.
8. Natalie Miano
After a slow start to the year, she has really worked her way back into the shape that propelled her to a third-place finish at the Jacksonville Sprint in 2020. Miano finished seventh in the West Virginia Beast and, a day later, took third in the Sprint behind Dube and Rugloski.
9. Faye Morgan
Though she wasn't in West Virginia, she had a fantastic showing in California the week prior, winning both the Super and Sprint on a bum foot in Monterey. Currently ninth in the US National Series standings, she has the opportunity to jump past some ladies with a strong performance at Big Bear.
10. Miranda Kielpinski
Imogen Cross made this pick extremely difficult for me. In last month's rankings, I challenged the ladies to step up and earn the last spot in this ranking. Cross, as well as Miano, did just that. She came to the West Virginia Beast and had the greatest race of her career, placing sixth. It was the first time she earned a top 10 finish in a US National Series race, and she added a third-place finish in the Super the following day.
But despite her incredible showing, Miranda still deserves to be ranked in the top 10 for the fabulous season she is having. She had to pull out of West Virginia, but I expect her big year to continue.
The Top 10 Men Right Now
1. Ryan Atkins
This is a seismic shift, but one that I have supreme confidence in making. Though Atkins and Veejay Jones are tied in the US National Series standings — and Atkins was defeated by Jones in the Asheville Super — I believe that Atkins is currently (and will remain) the best Spartan athlete in the world.
2. Veejay Jones
After being the clear-cut leader since Jacksonville, Veejay slides into second for the first time all year. With all due respect to his decision to work the media side of West Virginia — he operated the camera rabbit for the Beast — NOT toeing the start line made this decision that much more plausible. But at Big Bear in October, he will get his chance to take back the top spot.
3. Tyler Veerman
This was a very difficult choice. Ryan Woods has been consistent and great all season, but Veerman's third-place performance just behind Woods in the West Virginia Beast — followed by his victories the following day in both the Super and Sprint — won me over. It's weekends like this that make him one of the clear favorites to win the Ultra World Championship in Colorado.
4. Ryan Woods
Woods returned to West Virginia as the reigning champion and churned out another stellar performance, taking second behind Ryan Atkins. He is quietly having his best season since he won the US National Series in 2018.
5. Logan Broadbent
On a West Virginia Beast course that demanded some significant proficiency on heavy carries, Logan proved that his smaller frame could shoulder the burden. His fourth-place performance boomeranged him back into serious contention in the US National Series. He currently sits in third with Big Bear looming.
6. Mark Gaudet
Gaudet just continues to throw down brilliant performances. After his fifth-place performance at the West Virginia Beast, the Army Ranger has become one of the best feel-good stories of 2021.
7. Ryan Kempson
Kempson has finished fifth, sixth, fourth, and sixth in National Series races this year. He doesn't have any USNS podiums, but he's been very consistent. Considering his tremendous downhill running ability, he's definitely a serious podium threat in Big Bear.
8. Mark Batres
Batres set the pace for the West Virginia Beast and gave it his all. He has been traveling the country all season — he raced Hawaii the week before with his wife, Natalie Miano — and has been fantastic in every place he's toed the start line. With Big Bear coming up in his home state, I expect him to have a big day.
9. Brian Gowiski
Steady as the sunrise and quietly having one of his best seasons ever, Gowiski actually defeated Batres in West Virginia, and is tied with him in the US National Series standings.
10. Who's Going to Step Up?
Kris Brown, Rylan Shadegg, and Hawk Call all appeared on this list last month, and deservedly so. But none of them raced in August. Each of them is very capable of a podium performance in Tahoe and Big Bear. So who's it going to be, guys? Who's going to step it up and further distinguish themselves? I can't wait to find out.