On MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas, the winner was Cara Maria. The loser, on the other hand, was most of the viewing public.

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Vendettas wasn’t a great season. It was smack in the middle of the ‘dark ages’ of The Challenge when MTV was perpetuating this weird identity crisis. This weird ‘trilogy’ felt only halfway thought-through and halfway finished.

But the one shining light was the person who stood atop the podium at the finish line. One person, a female. Cara Maria, after having been bullied and struggling to find her place on the show after so many years, finally climbed to the top of The Challenge. She won and was the single champion of the season, winning ver $375,000 and the title of the first solo winner of The Challenge.

The season started off with a surprise elimination Challenge, when TJ, from a soccer field in Gibraltar, told the entire cast they had to sprint to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Cara Maria didn’t blaze past anyone in this “running straight up a mountain” Challenge, but was certainly more than capable of finishing in the middle of the pack, securing her place in the game.

Cara Maria certainly entered the house with enemies. Vendettas had a fluid format, so there was no established rivals or opponents, but she had beef with Tony, Marie, and Kailah, to name a few.

Despite having plenty of enemies in the house, Cara managed to go the entire season without being thrown into an elimination.

Cara didn’t win any of the first five Challenges, but managed to politic her way out of danger until some crucial mid-game Challenges.

The middle of the show, when the fat is trimmed off and alliances start to be tested, is the most crucial part of the game. Cara Maria showed why she is one of the great Challengers by helping her team win the Puppet Master Challenge, and then had one of the fastest times in the Car Crash Challenge (the one where Leroy almost died) to earn herself safety from the “Ring”.

At the tail end of the game, there was a another elimination daily challenge in the form of a long distance run-and-repel run around Rhonda, Spain. Although Nicole Z won for the women, Cara Maria performed well to save herself from being immediately sent home and was sent straight to the final.

After TJ announced there would be only one total winner of the final, male or female, the game was on.

The first section of the final was a lap around a medieval forest with three check points, and endurance torch carry, a mental puzzle game vs. an opponent, and an eating Challenge served by some old Vendettas (Bananas and Melissa).

Nicole Z was too injured to finish the first leg, so she was eliminated along with last place finishers Tony, Leroy, and Kam.

The last leg of the race was called memory smash, a big giant board of a memory puzzle game. Cara Maria, notoriously bad at puzzles, was up against Zach, Kyle, and Kailah.

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As soon as the last leg got started, it became clear that the final would be a contest between Cara and Zach. After a lot of wrong guesses and missed colors, Cara Maria finally got her puzzle correct, made her way up the castle, and claimed victory as the first solo winner in challenge history and winner of MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas.