The first 72 minutes of the Big Bear Lake Super, the most recent North American Elite Series race, featured one of the closest battles in National Series history. Emma Cook-Clarke and Lindsay Webster were side by side, with only a Spear Throw and a Bucket Carry standing between them and the finish line. Ultimately, Cook-Clarke missed her spear, opening the door for Webster to continue her 11-race unbeaten streak dating back to the 2019 Spartan Race World Championship at Lake Tahoe.
Next up in the North American Elite Series lineup is the Puebla Beast on June 11. Here are a few key stats to keep in mind before the National Series heads to Mexico this weekend.
- Four women have podiumed in both the United States and Mexico: Alex Roudayna, Alyssa Hawley, April Dee, and Maria Isabel Zamora Zarate.
- Lindsay Webster has won 11 consecutive races dating back to 2019.
How Will International Travel Affect Performance and Results?
This will be the first time that many of the top athletes in this field will be racing outside of the United States, and athletes tend to do better on their home turf (and worse when having to travel internationally). We saw that in Abu Dhabi. The Europeans, who often struggled following transatlantic flights to Tahoe for past World Championships, performed great in the UAE. The North American athletes, however, collectively had their worst performance ever at a World Championship event after having to travel internationally for a major event for the first time. Don’t be surprised if at least a couple U.S. and/or Canadian athletes have travel issues or setbacks that affect their performances this weekend.
Top Contenders: Who Can Win the Puebla Beast?
Let’s take a quick look at some of the main contenders to wind up on the podium. The field isn’t as deep as it was in San Luis Obispo or Big Bear, but most of the top women are still making the trip to Mexico. The race for 2nd-6th will likely feature several lead changes, but I would be surprised if someone not mentioned below ends up in the top 5.
Walker is hoping to keep her streak of seven straight National Series finishes in the top 5 alive, and improve upon her 5th-place finish in Big Bear last month.
The Monkey-Twister-Monkey and Ape Hanger will be in Mexico. With Annie’s surgically-repaired elbow, which she suffered in a bouldering accident in January, how will she fare on the challenging grip obstacles? It's something to keep an eye on.
The word “impressive” doesn’t do Kris justice when describing her past month of racing. Rugloski raced six times in three weeks, including a 3rd-place finish at Big Bear, and then finished a 100-mile trail race in Virginia this past weekend. Will Kris continue to amaze us with her durability, or will her demanding race schedule finally catch up to her?
Lindsay hasn’t lost a Spartan Race since last decade. Without Emma Cook-Clarke in the field, this is Lindsay’s race to lose. A win would give her the North American Elite Series points title for the sixth time in her illustrious career.
Of all the athletes in the field, Rea is the least likely to be affected by international travel, as her passport is likely running out of blank pages following the past few years of racing around the world. Without any long, steep descents on the course, Rea won’t be gapped on the downhills like she was in Big Bear.
Rose spent some time living in Mexico earlier this year, so she may require less of an adjustment period compared to her U.S. and Canadian counterparts. With rain in the forecast, the course could end up being pretty muddy. That’s good news for Rose, who has excelled on muddy National Series courses like Seattle, West Virginia, and Jacksonville in the past.
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.