Defying the show’s title, New Zealander’s emerged the top dogs on the TV show named ‘Australian Spartan’.
The ‘Kiwi Mad Dogs’ – Reid Carnegie, Ben Bolitho and Ethan Helliwell – were victorious in the grand final. The trio walked away with the show’s prize money of AUD$100,000 (NZD$103,563.66).
Australian Spartan can be watched online at TVNZ OnDemand.
After being singled out for their colourful attire by the show’s hosts in previous episodes, it was the clothing itself that proved the difference as both teams struggled to overcome the final obstacle of the course.
After running, jumping, swinging and crawling their way through the heats and semi-finals, the Kiwi Mad dogs found themselves in the final against Australian team Smoke On The Water – much to the surprise of the show’s hosts, who included former Australian rugby league and union international Wendell Sailor.
“They were surprised we were still there … I don’t think they expected very much from us,” Bolitho said.
“One of the hosts even commented on Ben not being that muscular compared to the others – it was like, ‘well,that doesn’t matter’,” Carnegie said.
The Australians initially surged ahead in the final showdown.
However, in a perfectly scripted finale the Nelson men kept within striking distance and drew level with Smoke on the Water at the final high wall obstacle.
“It was all about not giving up – when Ethan came off the tyre swing you could see a bit of despair in his eyes, so it was a matter of saying ‘come on mate’.”
Both teams were forced to think outside the box as their stamina wore down at the final climb on the steep, slippery wall.
While the bare-torsos of Smoke On The Water tried to use sand to gain some extra height, Kiwi Mad Dogs went to the item of clothing that had previously drawn ridicule throughout the competition to construct a tie dye rope attached to the leg of Carnegie.
It was a masterstroke that allowed Helliwell and Bolitho to lift themselves past the stranded Aussies and across the finish line to victory.
“We were probably on there for about 10 minutes trying to get up there and probably fell down about 10 times,” Bolitho said.
“When the guys got me over the top I just flopped down and rolled over – I don’t think i’ve ever been that destroyed in my whole life, I felt like I couldn’t even stand up,” Carnegie said.
As the exhausted Kiwi Mad Dogs raised their arms in triumph, the commentators were full of praise for the winners.
“In the heats, we mocked the tie dye – in the semi-finals, we mocked the tie dye – in that ultimate moment, they were clever enough to use the t-shirts to victory.”
As well as a plaque commemorating their achievement, the trio were rewarded with a cash prize of AUD$100,000 (NZD$103,563.66).
The show aired in Australia late last year, almost 12 months after filming took place in Brisbane, meaning the men had been sworn to secrecy about the result for some time.
“You only get paid when the final airs – so that’s an incentive to keep it quiet,” Carnegie said.
Carnegie said there had been a massive response to the win from friends and strangers alike.
“Social media’s been going a bit crazy and all my work colleagues are giving me a bit of grief now, telling me I can’t use the elevator at work anymore – I have to use the outside of the building.”
Bolitho puts the win up with Carnegie and himself representing New Zealand at the Obstacle Course Racing world championships.
The pair also paid tribute to team-mate Helliwell’s contribution to the win.
“He kept our spirits up – he was just non-stop,” Bolitho said.