Race number two in the Spartan Race 3k Series in North America is in the books. Since Palm Beaches, this race has only gotten better and more competitive.
A few years ago, predicting who would win was easy, but this year there has already been a mix of four different winners. Nicole Mericle and Veejay Jones won in Palm Beaches, and now Rylann Schadegg and Kris Rugloski. I do not know who will come out on top this season or who will continue to attend the remaining 3k events in the Poconos and Mexico.
The Big Bear 3k has at least 100, maybe 200, spectators, which is far more than Palm Beaches. Spectators make the event atmosphere so much better, cheering on athletes and following the race closely. They also see the pro techniques on obstacles from some of their favorite athletes. Having people there to watch made the event easily ten times better.
Kris Rugloski dominated from the beginning of the qualifying heats, with a thirty-second lead on Ally Tippets in Q1. In Q2, Ida Mathlide Steensgaard finished second, seventeen seconds behind Kris.
Six women moved on to the final heat. Kris, Ally, Ida, Janka Pepova, Rose Wetzel, and Nicole Mericle got the final qualifying spot. Unfortunately, Nicole decided not to move forward to the final wave due to recent illness and mental health struggles.
The five women competed in the final 3k, finishing under 33:24 minutes. Kris dominated with a two-minute, nineteen-second lead on second place at 28:51. Ida, from Denmark, finished under thirty-two minutes in third place. Janka and Rose finished fourth and fifth.
Nicole Mericle finished Spartan Palm Beaches at 26:02 but at sea level. Veejay Jones had a 21:39. It will be interesting to see who has the fastest 3k times by the end of the year. Big Bear was definitely a harder event, with three carries, sandbag double carry, and elevation gains.
For the men, the competition was much more tense. Rylann Schadegg showed up and finished first in all three heats, but not by much. In Q1, the top seven men finished within 31 seconds of each other. Rylann only had an eight-second gap between him and second place, Tyler Veerman. Tyler led most of the first lap.
In Q2, fourteen men moved forward, which is when Rylann almost finished second. He only had a half-second lead on second place Manuel Dufaux from Switzerland. Third place, Hawk Call finished 2.4 seconds behind Rylann, and Tyler was 14.2 seconds behind. The second heat was fierce, with only eight men moving on to the final heat. The top nine men in Q2 finished under a minute of each other. In ninth place, John Howard III was eliminated by only two seconds.
The final heat, a 3k, was three laps of the 1k course. Unfortunately, we do not have the splits data of each lap, but I have reached out to Spartan for future events and have access to that data. Each lap was very close!
Rylann finished first at 25:46. Forty-five seconds behind was Tyler and Manuel duking it out for second. Hawk Call was up there, too, finishing 12 seconds behind third-place Manuel. Our top four men finished under a minute of each other. Tyler finished 1.5 seconds ahead of third-place Manuel.
It would be quite the race if Veejay Jones and Ryan Atkins came. It would definitely be one of the best races of the season. Unfortunately, due to the prize money constraints from Spartan Race, professional athletes have to pick and choose precisely which events would be best to go to. We have yet to see the best competition at these events together. I think we will have quite an intense and dramatic World Championships in Abu Dhabi, building up for the 3k event and OCRWC’s 3k in Mammoth Mountain, California.
Overall, it was a great event put on by Spartan Race. I cannot wait for the remaining events this year. I would love to see more obstacles at the event and fewer carries. The next 3k is in the Poconos on July 14th. Mexico’s Pan-American Championships follow on August 4th-5th.