The Spartan Pro Team is made up of men and women who chose to dedicate this year of their lives to the growing sport of obstacle racing. This year’s team hails from all over North America, from backgrounds as varied as the millions of racers they represent.
Meet the Team that will define obstacle racing in 2016.
Matt Novakovich, a 42-year-old roofer known by his fans as ‘the Bear,’ deserves the fearsome title for his unrivaled ability to crush a mountain climb. His training is no well-kept secret; every day, he carries a 70-pound bucket of gravel on a radically inclined treadmill. Inspired by his son and armed with the upper-body strength of a beast twice his size, Matt charges this racing season with one motto on his mind: “Do not quit.”
Brakken Kraker calls himself a jack of all trades, but don’t let his modesty fool you. This Midwestern thunderbolt has more talents than our course has obstacles. Endowed with the uncanny ability to change a diaper in “eight seconds flat,” Brakken has no problem bringing his young kids to the gym. In terms of his favorite Spartan course challenge, he can’t decide whether he prefers to breathe water—or fire.
KATE RIPPLE CRAMER
Kate Ripple Cramer made waves last year with eight first-place Spartan finishes to her name. Born in Kentucky and raised in Baton Rouge, this 19-time high school state track champion quickly earned her spot as Spartan’s 2015 Rookie of the Year. Fair warning to her competition: bring a parka to Lake Tahoe, because this Ripple is going to leave you drenched.
Kevin Donaghue is the beast you get when you cross Indiana Jones with a powerlifting football player. An adventurer at heart, Kevin spent his childhood playing in the woods, climbing trees, catching animals, and swimming in lakes in scenic New York. At an unassuming 5’5”, this 41-year-old powerhouse can clear an eight-foot wall in a single bound. If you’re in Kevin’s way, it would be smart to step aside.
Cody Moat is no stranger to elevation. This 37-year-old mountain warrior hails from Duchesne, UT, which sits just over one mile above sea level. Cody has led his Points Series for two years straight—probably because he is halfway through his cool-down before most Spartans are out of bed.
Jackie Rust, a single mother of two kids from Aubrey, TX, takes balance to an extreme. When she’s not crunching numbers at her full-time finance job, teaching a group fitness class, volunteering at a children’s running club, or training her own clients, she’s working on her trademark one-armed bucket carry, which she calls “the baby hold.” The only thing fuller than her schedule is her heart.
Glenn Racz is a mechanical engineer from sunny California who knows the darker side of life. Reborn from the ashes of broken family, Glenn is a man of strong faith, hope, and steadfast love for his wife and four kids. Driven, down-to-earth, and dedicated to his sport, this West Coaster feels most at home when he’s crawling under barbed wire.
Orla Walsh has risen to fast fame for her intimidating Stadium Race finishes. When she’s not haunting the dreams of her competition, she spends her time on the slopes of Vermont as a paramedic and ski patrol. Fierce, passionate, and insatiably competitive, Orla Walsh has earned her fearsome nickname: the Vermontster.
Chad Trammell has been a competitive runner since he he was nine years old, and he isn’t stopping anytime soon. After crushing three consecutive Beasts in brutal Temecula, it was no surprise when he stepped onto the podium in Tahoe. An aspiring world traveler and Alaska’s toughest dentist, Chad splits his time between long mountain trail runs and extracting wisdom teeth.
Cassidy Watton joins the Spartan Pro Team at the peak of her fitness career. A sport lover turned fitness guru, Cassidy leads by example at her gym in Miami. Don’t be put off by her unwavering focus; underneath that intense game face, she’s a regular sweetheart.
Faye Stenning is a fierce, fresh face on the Spartan racing scene. At 26 years old, this cross-country running dynamo hails from Alberta, Canada with unrivaled focus, energy, and a beaming smile. A lover of travel and scenic trails who thrives on competitive hype, Faye works hard so she can play harder.
ROBERT B. KILLIAN JR.
Robert B. Killian Jr. took the world by storm when he won the 2015 Spartan Race World Championships unknown and unannounced. A seasoned steeplechaser, Ironman triathlete, a member of the Colorado Army National Guard and winner of 2016’s Best Ranger, this humble family man has made himself a career in grit.
Isaiah Vidal is an explosive mix of power and endurance, and he knows it. With four fruitful years of Spartan Racing behind him, this intense, self-possessed kinesiology student comes at 2016 with a boundless energy matched only by a depth of reflection well beyond his years. At 23 years old, Isaiah is the youngest male member of the Spartan Pro Team.
After a childhood spent in martial arts, rowing, and tennis, Alex Roudayna has found her niche as Mexico’s top Spartan racer. Now, she’s heading north to conquer new territory. Known by her nickname, Chikorita, Alex holds a black belt in Taekwondo, read 30 books last year exclusively on flights to US races, and likes to toe the line between here and “insanity.” She loves racing because it gives her freedom to be herself.
Becca Clifford, the youngest female on the Spartan Pro Team, has a track record that will make any Spartan take a step back. A college cross-country champion, she’s built for the podium in body and mind; however, a prohibitive injury kept her on the sidelines for most of last year’s season. She bounced back at Lake Tahoe with an impressive finish, but now the world is waiting: will Becca’s momentum carry her through to the end?
Powerlifting stud Ryan Kent is what happens when a Calvin Klein model falls in love with a sandbag. Strong, strong-willed, and fiercely independent, Ryan is a force to be reckoned with at any race he attends. He pours his heart into the competition, and he competes as much for himself as for the track and field legacy of his father. Despite his determination, Ryan is anything but cutthroat; the best part of his career so far, he says, is the friends he has made.
Amelia Boone has no time for games. A full-time corporate attorney, Amelia first turned to obstacle racing to counterbalance the monotony of office life. However, it didn’t take long before the sideshow became her claim to fame. A lover of endurance, two-time World’s Toughest Mudder, winner of the 2013 Spartan Race World Championship, and winner of the 2012 Winter Death Race, Amelia Boone is all bite and no bark.
If you think you’re tough, you have not shaken hands with April Dee. April joined the army at 18 and soon found herself packing parachutes for the 82nd Airborne Division in a company of mostly men. This hand-to-hand combat instructor and full-time mom is as immune to obstacles as she is immune to your bullshit, and she will do whatever it takes to win.
Softball center-fielder Alyssa Hawley discovered her talent for Spartan Racing entirely by accident, but since then, she feels that this is what she’s meant to do. This woman’s faith is as strong as her focus, and when she’s not building houses alongside her dad at his construction company, she’s catapulting him over obstacles in open category races to earn their first father-daughter Trifecta.
Ian Deyerle never saw himself as a top finisher, and he describes his first few podiums as “surreal.” Nevertheless, this diligent and dedicated restaurant operations manager found himself crushing Beasts and Sprints on the West Coast. Ian is a time-tested winner through and through; he refuses to half-ass any goal. A man who has rebuilt himself after ten years in and out of rehab, Ian comes at this racing season feeling “alive” and ready to give it everything he’s got.
Learn more about the Spartan Pro Team.