December 3, 2023

Op Ed: Ryan Woods DQ – Did he get a fair shake?

Author: Alexis Haddad
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On Saturday, February 23rd, Spartan kicked off its US Championship Series in Jacksonville Florida and boy did it deliver. On the women’s side, Nicole Mericle secured the top spot with a seven and a half minute lead over Lindsay Webster. While Rose Wetzel and Rebecca Hammond finished 3rd and 4th by a one-second difference (I was screaming in my kitchen it was such an epic finish)!

On the men’s side, we initially saw a sweep of the Ryans taking the top four spots (Kempson, Woods, Atkins, Kent respectively). However, after the exciting finish between Woods and Atkins, we learned that Ryan Woods was DQ’d for placing his hand on the truss at the A-frame cargo net. This is the last obstacle before the fire jump and if you are to review the video from behind one could argue that his hand wasn’t on the metal but on the actual cargo itself. Yes, you can argue that Woods should have known better, but I’m going to assume that it wasn’t a conscious hand placement.

After hearing some chatter about this DQ on the social and interwebs, I had to do some digging myself. Looking at the Spartan Rule book updated as of 2/6/19 Article III states the following:


These obstacles may be attempted as many times as necessary until successful completion. If

taking multiple attempts, one must yield to competitors making their first attempt.

(k) A-Frame

(i) Competitor Instructions

1. Climb up and over the obstacle using the netting only.

(ii) Failure Modes

1. Inability to climb over the obstacle.

2. Using truss or support structure of the obstacle to complete the obstacle,

or for an advantage

(iii) Additional Notes

1. If Competitors fail the obstacle due to using truss, they are able to redo

obstacle from beginning.

As you can see, the additional note clearly states that if a competitor fails the obstacle due to using truss they can redo it from the beginning.  So no, Ryan Woods did not get a fair shake. The punishment does not meet the crime in this situation. What I believe was yet again, an ill-informed race marshal at the obstacle and instead of Spartan acknowledging, this they are handing out a DQ. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so strongly about this if athletes could drop one race from the series, but this year every race counts.

If this wasn’t realized till after the fact, then we need to have a discussion about instant replay. We aren’t the NFL or the MLB. I do realize Elites and AG are videoed doing burpees to ensure they do the required numbers but there is no mention of obstacle review.

If you head over to Woodsy’s IG account he posted about his disappointment, which he has every right to be. Some elites, including Rea Kolbl have commented stating that the DQ was too harsh.

Bottom line: With  Spartan leading the proverbial charge to make OCR a legitimate sport I’d expect these type of situations wouldn’t happen. If this was year two then totally fair, hiccups come as any sport or company develops but Spartan is a fairly mature race organization now. Be better Spartan- I have all the faith in the world you can be.




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