Weighing in on Spartan Games

For the general public, buzz around Spartan Games came out of nowhere, crescendoed, and went away almost as abruptly as it came. Fortunately, the fierce showdown in Vermont was captured in a documentary series that, to this point, has been pure GOLD! 

Just to recap, the Spartan Games were 4 days of extreme competition at Spartan’s original HQ (Riverside Farm in Pittsfield, Vermont) in October. 24 elite athletes from various disciplines (OCR, ultra running, swimming, mountain biking, CrossFit, triathlon, adventure racing, and more) were invited to compete in what Spartan called “grueling mental and physical feats” for a combined purse of $100,000 in prize money. 

Episodes 1 (36 min.) and 2 (42 min.) document the first two days of competition including Spartan Cross 1.0, Swim, Highland Games, Deka Strong, and La Ruta Bike. Then, episode 3 recapped the third day of the Spartan Games and delivered over an hour of heartfelt athleticism as participants wrestled and competed to complete the most miles over a 6-hour trail run. 

Viewers will appreciate the production value of the docuseries. It has a super cinematic look while maintaining the rawness of an event that was “thrown together” in the middle of COVID.  

Speaking of raw, we applaud Spartan’s decision to show the good, the bad, and the ugly moments of the competition. This includes some drama between fellow Spartans Hunter McIntyre and Aaron Newell as well as criticism about some of the events. Specifically, Million Dollar Mile defender, Max Fennell, disagreed with Spartan’s advance claim that the mountain biking course would not be technical. Similarly, marathoner Kelly Taylor insisted the trail run was reckless in its design (or lack thereof). While some might dismiss these complaints as whining, we appreciate the competitiveness that fuels them.   

OCR fans will enjoy seeing McIntyre, Atkins, Webster, and Coffin leading the pack. However, seeing Spartan pros out of their elements may be even more intriguing. For instance, Ryan Kent talked about overcoming his fear in a vulnerable moment after completing the mountain bike challenge. Fans will also love seeing Corinna Coffin wrestle. 

Along with seeing familiar Spartans, the series allows us to meet and appreciate some incredible athletes from other fields. Lauren Weeks proved to be a Jack (more like a Jill) of all trades, while Herman Demminck demonstrated pure gratitude. We also learned that Curt Maggitt and Faith Cooke are both gentle giants. It really was a great cast of athletes!

The first three days of competition each contained strength and endurance events. Day 4 (episode 4) will surely follow suit. However, the question remains: What does it all prove? CrossFit owns the claim “fittest in the world;” and “strongest man/woman” doesn’t seem right either. Whatever Spartan Games implies in terms of greatness, we’re just glad to be along for the ride.    

Spartan Games might just be the best things you watch in 2020. Upon its debut, the series is only available via YouTube. However, the overall execution should earn the film easy entry onto Amazon Prime Video or Netflix.

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