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 Spartan Pro Kevin Donoghue. A Spartan Pro Team member from 2015-21, he has amassed more than 150 podium appearances during his illustrious career and captured 112 Age Group victories. In addition to his brilliance on the course, he's also a veteran Spartan broadcaster, having called three Spartan World Championships.
The second race of the North American Elite Series, in Big Bear Lake, featured a star-studded field, and it left us with plenty to chew on as we enter June. Lindsay Webster narrowly edged Emma Cook-Clarke to win, and Ryan Atkins avenged last year's defeat. But was it enough to push him back to the top of the rankings?
Here are the top 20 Spartan racers in the world right now.
Let the debate begin!
The Top 10 Spartan Racers in the World Right Now: The Women
1. Lindsay Webster
When a Spartan racer apologies to a fellow competitor for winning because he or she made the Spear Throw and the other did not, it irks me. Lindsay did this following Big Bear, after nailing the Spear Throw to beat Emma Cook-Clarke, and I have no choice but to bring it up.
Lindsay said that making the Spear is "luck." Finding $20 on the street is lucky. Throwing an object at a target with velocity and accuracy is an ATHLETIC SKILL! It's an important part of the sport because it forces athletes to show proficiency in this primal athletic skill, and it separates Spartan races from merely being endurance tests. We should be grateful that Spartan doesn't have an obstacle that requires us to catch something!
All of that aside, Lindsay beat the field yet again to take Big Bear. Claim it, Lindsay. It's part of the sport! No apology is necessary. You're the best in the world (and I appreciate you 😁).
2. Kris Rugloski
Kris had one of the most impressive — if not the most impressive — weekends in the history of our sport last month. And no, that's not hyperbole. The day before her third-place finish at Big Bear, she won the HYROX World Championship in Las Vegas. She also currently holds the second-fastest DEKA FIT time in the world. To cap off her incredible month, she came home to Texas and took first at the Austin Super. Wow.
3. Annie Dube
She's baaaaack! In her first Spartan race since undergoing elbow surgery, she came in fourth at Big Bear. You can expect to see her crack some podiums in the coming months.
4. Emma Cook-Clarke
If these were trail races, rather than Spartans, you'd see Emma on many more podiums. But even still ... finishing in second at Big Bear, after a great battle with Lindsay Webster, is an amazing achievement.
5. Alex Walker
Alex had another great effort at Big Bear, coming in fifth. She remains one of the best in the world.
6. Rose Wetzel
For nearly a decade, Rose has been showing up at races and grinding out solid performances, time and time again. Like clockwork. You can never count her out of a race.
7. Rea Kolbl
8. Berenice Barrera
Berenice came in ninth at Big Bear, and she'll be a force to reckon with when she toes the line in her home country of Mexico.
9. Faye Morgan
Faye finished 10th at Big Bear, and she's been churning out consistently great performances for the last 18 months. She's as rock solid as they come.
10. Tiffany Palmer
After finishing eighth at Big Bear, T PALM showed everyone on the West Coast what she has demonstrated on the East Coast for years: She is fast.
The Top 10 Spartan Racers in the World Right Now: The Men
1. Ryan Atkins
I saw some of the "metric-based" predictions that had Ryan getting beat in Big Bear, and I almost laughed. Losing to Veejay Jones at Big Bear last year pissed him off mightily — so much so, in fact, that he actually brought it up to me in his post-race comments in Abu Dhabi. So put your pocket protectors away, because you can't compute scorn.
2. Veejay Jones
Veejay drops one place to No. 2, but he fought his ass off in Big Bear. He could have very easily settled for a top-five finish, but he scratched and clawed his way to the podium, impressively finishing third.
3. Rylan Schadegg
Rylan has been trending up since the middle of 2021. An impressive fifth-place showing at Big Bear, coupled with the fast development of his obstacle game, has shown the Spartan world that he's a consistent big-race podium contender.
4. Lars Arneson
His collegiate Nordic and cross-country skiing background — in Alaska, no less — served him well in Big Bear. He went toe to toe with Ryan Atkins and came away with an impressive second-place finish. Hopefully he's able to run more Elite Series races, because new blood is always a plus.
5. Aaron Newell
I can't remember the last time he made the rankings, and for good reason. He's either been hurt, or recovering from an injury, since 2020. But his sixth-place finish in Big Bear was impressive, and it propelled him to No. 5 in this month's rankings. There are a number of Northeast races coming up — including Bethel, Palmerton, and the New England Sprint/Super weekend — so he has a golden opportunity to really build off that performance and keep rising.
6. Josiah Middaugh
This guy clearly has the speed and endurance to run with anyone in the sport. But as Gerard Butler famously said, "THIS IS SPARTA!" His obstacle game has to get better if he wants to be a true podium threat.
7. Mark Batres
His spot at No. 7 isn't directly related to his seventh-place finish at Big Bear. But as I said after San Luis Obispo, once the carries started to become a more significant factor — longer and steeper — it would impact where he finishes. Big Bear was more representative of the DNA of Spartan, with a blend of heavy lifts, carries, and footspeed. Yet he's still talented enough to crack this list.
8. Ja Shua Ried
The last time most of you saw him was last year, in Tahoe. He dislocated his shoulder and, with only one arm to work with, still finished fourth at the North American Championship. His top 10 finish — he came in eighth — at Big Bear was no surprise.
9. Hawk Call
Some people were predicting that he'd snag a podium spot at Big Bear, and that consideration was warranted based on past performances. But his ability to manage the heavy lifting — the Hercules Hoist, Sandbag Carry, the Bucket Carry, and eventually the Tire Flip — just isn't there yet, and it's freakin' hard to improve on those in the middle of a season. But holy crap, his potential is through the roof.
10. Angel Quintero
Angel finished 10th at Big Bear, but keep an eye on him this summer. He'll be on his home turf at the next stop of the North American Elite Series, the Puebla Beast on June 11.