The first North American Elite Series race, in San Luis Obispo (SLO), was historically close on the men's side. There was a larger gap from 1st to 10th on the women's side, but it was still awfully tight: It was the ninth-closest U.S. National Series women's race of all time.
With several top athletes making their season debuts at Big Bear this coming weekend, you can expect that gap to close even more.
More Predictions: The Top 5 Finishers on the Men's Side
Big Bear Past Results, By the Numbers
Let’s take a quick look at previous Big Bear race results, for athletes who confirmed that they’ll be racing this weekend.
Big Bear Top Contenders: Who Can Win the Super on May 15?
Let’s take a quick look at some of the other main contenders to wind up on the podium. There are 15-plus athletes who could end up in the top 5, some of whom are not even listed below.
Alex has been driving six-plus hours from San Antonio to train in the mountains of western Texas as part of a 20-week hill training block. After a 3rd-place finish in SLO to open the season, Alex is hoping to keep her streak of six straight National Series finishes in the top 5 alive, and improve on her 4th-place finish in Big Bear last year.
Annie was Mrs. Second Place in 2021, with a runner-up finish in three National Series races, the North American Championship, and the World Championship in Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately, Annie suffered a major setback when she broke her elbow in a bouldering accident in January. Will her surgically-repaired elbow affect her on obstacles in Big Bear?
Arielle missed the top 5 by just three seconds on a flat San Luis Obispo course. One of the strongest climbers in the field, Arielle should have a successful debut at Big Bear given her previous success on mountain courses.
Despite only four Spartan races under her belt, Emma has emerged as possibly the biggest threat to Lindsay Webster. Emma was leading SLO by a considerable margin until her foot grazed the ground on Olympus, ultimately leading to a 2nd-place finish by only 42 seconds. If Emma can avoid burpees, she could walk away with the title in Big Bear.
Kris is racing in Las Vegas the night before Big Bear, which means she will have a 3.5-hour drive before arriving in Big Bear late Saturday night. However, Kris has a reputation for recovering from hard efforts almost instantly, so she could easily repeat her top-5 finish in SLO.
Veejay Jones wasn’t legally old enough to see an R-rated movie in theaters the last time Lindsay Webster missed a Spartan podium (April 2015). Lindsay won every single National Series race last year, before adding her third World Championship title in Abu Dhabi. Will she be recovered from a brutal 3rd-place finish at a Skyrunner World Series race, and the jet lag that comes from flying back from France?
The only athlete in the field to beat Lindsay Webster even once in her Spartan career, Rea has had great success at Big Bear in the past, finishing 1st in 2018 and 2nd in 2019. Although she has dabbled in other endurance sports lately, Rea’s hill-climbing ability is arguably the best in the field. Don’t be surprised if she is in the lead at the top of the first climb.
A missed Spear Throw in SLO cost Rose a chance to extend her streak of four straight National Series races on the podium. Rose edged Alex by about two minutes to finish 3rd last year at Big Bear, and has spent a ton of time in the mountains this training block.
Sarah has spent the past month living and training at 9,000 feet in Ecuador. She has also never missed the podium in her three career Spartan races, all of which were at mountain venues.
Predicting the Top 5 Finishers
It’s time to make some predictions! Here’s who I think will finish in the top 5, in order.
- Lindsay Webster
- Emma Cook-Clarke
- Rea Kolbl
- Annie Dube
- Alexandra Walker
Despite several top racers making their season debuts in Big Bear, I see this being a two-person race for the win, with a great battle for 3rd through 7th. Emma always pushes the pace from the start, much like Nicole Mericle, while Lindsay has mastered how to pace herself before waiting for the perfect moment to make a move.
I’m giving Rea the edge over Annie due to several unknowns surrounding Annie’s elbow injury, and Rea’s past success at Big Bear. I think Rea will be just a little rusty on the obstacles, which will keep her slightly behind Lindsay and Emma. Alex should make up a lot of ground on Rose, Sarah, and the rest of the chase pack during the obstacle gauntlet in the final mile.