FINDING THE FITTEST ON EARTH
Who is the fittest? How do you know? Since 2007, the CrossFit Games have evolved to answer these questions. Each year the Games are a more comprehensive test of fitness, and the athletes raise the level of competition to unprecedented heights. The average regional athlete in 2015 will be dramatically more capable than the world’s best in 2007.
Several unique characteristics define the CrossFit Games. The Games change every year, and the details are not announced until right before each event. Athletes train year-round for a competition that is almost completely a mystery. When they reach the StubHub Center, they put their training and mental fortitude to the test and take on a rigorous, broad-ranging test of overall physical capacity. After four days, the Fittest on Earth™will have clearly distinguished themselves.
Rich Froning Jr. finished his reign with his fourth consecutive Games win.
The 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games: The End of an Era
2014 marked the end of an era.
Rich Froning Jr. said it was his last year; he would retire from the individual competition whether or not he clinched the title Fittest on Earth for the fourth consecutive time. The 2008 champion and perennial podium contender Jason Khalipa also announced plans for retirement from the individual competition.
Meanwhile, it was becoming clear 2014 would be an exceptional year for the women’s competition. 2013 had been marked by the absence of the top two women in 2012—two-time fittest woman on Earth Annie Thorisdottir withdrew from the 2013 Open due to a back injury, and 2012 silver medalist Julie Foucher didn’t enter the 2013 season in order to focus on medical school. Both were back in 2014 and ready to challenge the woman who had won in their absence: Sam Briggs.
The Open kicked off the season with the announcement of the first of five workouts on February 27. More than 209,000 people registered for the Open, a 50 percent increase from 2013, when more than 138,000 registered for the online competition.
It quickly became clear the reigning champions expected nothing less than first place. Briggs won 14.1, 14.4, and 14.5, while Froning never finished a workout outside the top 10 worldwide.
Athletes from around the world proved their fitness in a repeat of the first-ever Open workout: double-unders and power snatches (11.1/14.1); followed by two ascending ladders: first an ascending ladder of overhead squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups, where athletes progressed if they could complete the work within each 3-minute time cap (14.2), and next an ever-heavier ladder of deadlifts and box jumps (14.3).
The fourth week brought a chipper that started on the rowing machine—a first for the Open—and led into toes-to-bars, wall-ball shots, cleans, and muscle-ups (14.4). For the finale, Director of the CrossFit Games Dave Castro announced a couplet of thrusters and burpees—21-18-15-12-9-6-3--for time. At the live Open Announcement in San Francisco, California, five CrossFit Games champions raced through the reps with Briggs and Froning so far in the lead it was a race between the two. In the last moments, Froning pulled ahead.
The top 48 male and female athletes, as well as the top 30 teams from each of the 17 regions were invited to participate in regional competitions that took place over four weekends from May 9 to June 1. In locations from Santiago, Chile, to Washington, D.C., individuals began the three-day competition with a 1-rep-max hang squat snatch before kicking up into a handstand for a max-distance handstand walk.
For the first time, every heat of every domestic and major international regional was broadcast live on Games.CrossFit.com, which allowed fans to watch every moment of the competition. Elijah Muhammad awed viewers as he leapt to near the top of the rope in each round of sprints and legless rope climbs, and fans rallied behind Briggs after a setback on the handstand walk put her perilously far back in the standings at the Europe Regional.
All told, individuals competed in seven events, the last of which called for 64 pull-ups and 8 overhead squats (205/135 lb.), while the teams competed in eight events, which deviated more substantially from the individual versions of the workouts than in past years.
Each regional had a certain number of CrossFit Games spots to award, ranging from just one male, female, and team for Latin America, Asia and Africa, to two men, women, and teams for each Canadian region, and three men, women, and teams for all U.S. regions, as well as Australia and Europe. In a major break from the previous couple years, an extra Games qualifying spot was not added when a past CrossFit Games champion finished on a regional podium in 2014.
After her setback on the max-distance handstand walk, Briggs fought to get back in contention for one of the region’s three Games qualifying spots but the women above her on the Leaderboard proved unshakeable. Even with three event wins, Briggs finished the weekend in fourth place—one rank and 6 points away from qualifying for the Games.
At the StubHub Center in Carson, California, the CrossFit Games began on July 22 with 200 masters athletes, ranging in age from 40 to over 60. They competed in eight events—the first was a deadlift ladder. The athletes also negotiated sleds, rope climbs, handstand walking, med ball cleans, burpee muscle-ups, and plenty of classic CrossFit. The events for the youngest age division, 40-44, were the toughest ever and included events that have appeared in the individual division at the 2007 and 2012 Games (2007).
All masters events were broadcast live on various platforms, including ESPN channels and games.crossfit.com. In the end, men and women in five age categories were crowned Fittest on Earth. The podium finishers in each category were awarded US$10,000, $5,000 and $3,000.
Midway through the masters competition, the individual and team competitions began at the Hermosa Beach Pier. For the third consecutive year, Castro started the Games early with a surprise swim event on Wednesday morning.
This year’s swim event asked the competitors to break through the surf and swim 250 yards through the ocean, before completing 50 kettlebell thrusters and 30 burpees. The event was designed like a pyramid with a 500-yard swim at the top. Once that was complete, the athletes went back through the same work as before but in reverse order: 30 burpees, 50 kettlebell thrusters and 250-yard swim. It ended with a run through the soft sand to the finish line.
Soon after, the teams negotiated the surf with a large yellow rescue sled for a 1,000-yard swim with all hands on board.
Later Wednesday night, the individual competitors went to the tennis stadium at the StubHub Center to set their 1-rep-max overhead squat. Each athlete was given three attempts, and once they added weight to the bar they couldn’t go back down. Mathew Fraser and Froning tied for first at 377 lb., while Kara Webb took the win with a 250-lb. lift.
The athletes were then given a little more than a day to rest, and prepare for the weekend’s events in front of the crowds.
Friday got off to an odd start with Froning slowing down to a walk in Triple 3, and Anna Tunnicliffe twisting her ankle while trying to fend off Kristin Holte on the final sprint to the finish line.
The aerodynamic looking Sprint Sled may have cut through the air had it not had such a good grip on the ground. Some athletes struggled to get the sled going for the 100-yard sprint across the soccer field, and almost all arrived at the finish line surprisingly spent. Neal Maddox had no problem with it from the get-go, racing it to the finish line a full eight seconds ahead of the next best man, Jason Khalipa. The next round, Maddox edged out Tommy Hackenbruck for the win yet again. On the women’s side, newcomers Lauren Brooks and Emily Abbott traded the wins.
Later that night, the competitors moved gracefully through increasingly challenging movements with the barbell and on the pull-up bar for the 21-15-9 Complex. Deadlifts turned into cleans which turned into snatches, and were followed by pull-ups, chest-to-bar pull-ups and bar muscle-ups. It was here Camille Leblanc-Bazinet strung together the reps, and took her first event win of the weekend.
On the team side, it was all about Bob. The Big Bob. The massive six-person sled that can be pushed, carried, pulled or dragged had returned to the Games, and it came with an addition: a pull-up bar. After the 6-mile Relay Run in the L.A. heat, the teams entered Frantasy Land where they had to complete increasingly challenging versions of Fran, and then advance the sled.
Soon after, they moved the Big Bob 100 yards, then set their cumulative 1-rep-max deadlifts—one for the men and one for the women—before returning to the sled to move it another 200 yards.
On Saturday, the Muscle-up Biathlon demanded three 400-meter runs up and over the crest of the soccer stadium followed by 18, 15, and 12 muscle-ups. Unlike any other event to date, it punished athletes each time they dropped from the rings with a 200-meter lap. As their arms fatigued the 200-meter runs piled on.
Cody Anderson managed all of the muscle-ups in unbroken sets to take the win. He finished 1,200 meters of running and 45 muscle-ups in just 10:43.
The rest of the day was filled with the Sprint Carry with cylinders and sandbags, the Clean Speed Ladder where only the fastest athletes advanced to the next, heavier round, and the Push Pull, where athletes dragged weighted sleds across the stadium before pushing their way through deeper and deeper deficit handstand push-ups.
For the teams, Saturday was all about the Worm. After the Triples Chipper, where the teams dealt with heavy medicine-ball cleans, muscle-ups and handstand push-ups, the teams couldn’t escape the Worm. They squatted it in unison and jumped over it in the Squat Burpee, and then sprinted it across the field in the Worm Sprint.
On Sunday, things wrapped up with the Midline March followed by Thick ’N Quick and the surprise Double Grace. Teams faced the Team Fifties, and the pairing of the two objects any sane teammate had come to loath: the Worm and the Bob for the Worm Bob Final.
The final day of competition saw big shifts on the Leaderboard, including the loss of one the women’s top contenders. Kara Webb of Australia entered the Midline March in second overall, but during the rounds of GHD sit-ups, handstand walks and overhead walking lunges, it quickly became clear something was wrong as she grimaced in pain. When she entered the tunnel at the end of the event, she would not return to the field. She decided to withdraw due to injury.
That shifted Thorisdottir into second overall, and Foucher into third, with Leblanc-Bazinet in the key position at the top heading into the final events.
Thick ’N Quick demanded four rope climbs with an unusually thick rope followed by 3 heavy overhead squats without a rack (245/165 lb.) Since the athletes were held in seclusion before the event, Castro was able to surprise heat after heat with the true end to the Games: Double Grace.
Moments after Thick ’N Quick, the competitors had to race through 60 clean and jerks (135/95 lb.)
Leblanc-Bazinet emerged the victor, with Thorisdottir and Foucher sharing the other spots on the podium.
Froning ended his incredible five-season career as the four-time CrossFit Games champion. He left no doubt by winning every event on Sunday by significant margins. First-time competitor Fraser joined him on the podium, as well as seven-time Games competitor Khalipa.
Perennial CrossFit Games team CrossFit Invictus earned the top spot on the podium and were joined by CrossFit Conjugate and CrossFit Marysville.
For the first time, prize money was awarded to every man and woman in the top 20, and CrossFit announced a Rookie of the Year (Mat Fraser) and Most Improved Athlete (Cassidy Lance), in addition to the longstanding award for Spirit of the Games (Becca Voigt).
2014 Live Coverage
Record participation, record spectator number and history-making champions.
The 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games: A Year of Historic Numbers
In 2013, the CrossFit Games boasted staggering participation numbers worldwide during the Open.
The Open kicked off the season with the announcement of the first of five workouts on March 6. Anyone in the world could compete against CrossFit’s elite. More than 138,000 people registered for the five-week Open, nearly a 100 percent increase from 2012, when more than 69,000 registered for the competition. It also was a 220 percent increase from 2011, the Open’s inaugural year, in which more than 26,000 participants competed over six weeks.
Despite seemingly ubiquitous participation, one name was noticeably absent from the leaderboard: reigning Games champion Annie Thórisdóttir. The 24-year-old had been dealing with a back injury, and a recurrence lead her to forgo further competition after Open workout 13.3. After three events she was in 12th place worldwide. The void made way for other women in Europe, eager to replace the Games’ first repeat female champion on the Regional podium.
In the end, two-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning Jr. of the U.S.A. and the U.K.’s Sam Briggs won the worldwide Open after proving their fitness in workouts that included burpees plus snatches and a repeat of 2012’s 12-minute workout of as many rounds as possible of 150 wall balls, 90 double-unders and 30 muscle-ups. The five weeks ended with an AMRAP workout of thrusters and pull-ups that “rewarded” the fastest athletes by adding an additional four minutes to the workout each time they completed 90 reps.
The top 48 male and female athletes, as well as the top 30 teams from each of 17 regions were invited to participate in regional events that took place anywhere from May 17 to June 9. In locations from Ballerup, Denmark to Del Mar, Calif., individuals and teams began the three-day competition with a version of the classic CrossFit workout Jackie that called for both men and women to use the same weight: a 45-lb. barbell. The final day of competition at six regionals was broadcast live on games.crossfit.com—Central East, Mid Atlantic, Northern California, North Central, Southern California and South West—and the final event of the Europe Regional was broadcast live on Eurosport in a host of languages.
All told, individuals and teams each competed in seven events, the last of which called for rope climbs, sprints and squat cleans. Each regional had a certain number of CrossFit Games spots to award, ranging from just one male, female and team in Latin America to five males in Central East, where two defending champions earned return trips to the Games and opened up additional spots for others.
At the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., the CrossFit Games kicked off July 22 with 200 masters athletes, ranging in age from 40 to 60-plus. They competed in six events; the first was another one from the CrossFit vault: Nancy. The athletes also negotiated sleds, handstand push-ups, deadlifts, box jumps and one-rep-max clean and jerks. All masters events were broadcast live on various platforms, including ESPN channels and games.crossfit.com. In the end, men and women in five age categories were crowned Fittest on Earth.
As the masters’ competition ended, the individuals’ was just getting started. Games organizers planned events that used nearly the entire StubHub campus—and even beyond. Individual athletes began their competition at the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine, Calif., for 10 rounds of two 25-yard swims and 3 bar muscle-ups. Next, they were back in Carson at the Velodrome for a 21,097-meter row.
The 2013 Games saw new equipment introduced: the so-called Pig, a weighted metal frame that could be flipped end over end, and the Worm, comprising six short segments of logs linked together by rope.
After nine events—also broadcast live—Froning retained his crown for the second consecutive year and became the first three-time Games champion in history. Briggs, returning to competition in 2013 after sitting out 2012 with a knee injury, was atop the podium for the women.
In the Affiliate Cup, Hack’s Pack Ute also made history, becoming the first team to pull off a repeat win at the Games after seven events that had squad members navigating mixed-pairs sled pulls and squat clean and jerks with the Worm before a record crowd of about 25,000 people.
2013 Live Coverage
Despite the new tests of fitness, 2012 recorded a first in CrossFit Games history — repeat champions.
The 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games: Surprise Camp Pendleton Events
The CrossFit community’s rapid growth accelerated in 2012. Along with CrossFit Level 1 Seminars spreading true fitness all over the world, thousands of CrossFit affiliates encouraged its members to take a leap and prove their fitness in the worldwide Open.
More than 69,000 CrossFitters signed up for the 2012 Reebok Games CrossFit Open — 43,000 more than in 2011. Despite the new competitors, much stayed the same in the 2012 Open. Athletes completed five workouts over five weeks, starting on Wednesday, February 22 and ending on Sunday, March 25, 2012 — all of them composed of classic CrossFit movements such as high-rep snatches in 12.2 and a triplet of box jumps, push presses, and toe-to-bars in 12.3. And 2011’s final Open event, a 7-minute couplet of thrusters and chest–to-bar pull-ups again closed the Open in 2012. In the end, 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games champ Rich Froning won on the men’s side, and 2010 champ Kristan Clever led the women.
The Open was just part one of a three-part season, however. As in 2011, the 60 fittest athletes and 30 fittest teams from each region earned invitations to one of 17 Regionals, which were held over five weeks from April 27 to May 27, 2012. At Regionals, the bars got heavier, reps got higher, and the skills became more demanding. Individuals took on 45 handstand push-ups and 45 deadlifts in the first workout, Diane, then 30 reps of heavy hang cleans in the very next event. After three days and six rigorous tests of fitness, each Regional sent the top men, three women, and three teams on to the Games in Carson, Calif.
Record-breaking crowds showed up from July 13-15, 2012 at the Home Depot Center to watch the CrossFit Games athletes throw down. As usual, Games director Dave Castro threw a curveball at the competitors. The Monday before the Games, Castro announced an additional day of off-site competition. The Wednesday before, individual athletes headed to U.S. Marine base Camp Pendleton, where they confronted a 700-meter ocean swim with fins, an 8-kilometer bike ride across undulating terrain and soft sand, an 11.3-kilometer run across steep hills and more than 427 meters of elevation gain, and multiple trips across the Obstacle course. After Pendleton, the athletes returned to the Home Depot Center for three more days of grueling competition.
Despite the new tests of fitness, 2012 recorded a first in CrossFit Games history — repeat champions. Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir each claimed the title Fittest on Earth for the second consecutive year. The team competition challenged teams’ breadth by forcing all six teammates to compete in every event, including 400-meter sprints and heavy yoke walks. It ended with a dose of the familiar, the same slate-wiped-clean Girls final as in 2011. Hack’s Pack Ute won the Affiliate Cup with a blistering time of 21:43, beating 2011 champ CrossFit New England’s time by more than two minutes.
2012 Live Coverage
Central East Regional
Games Live: Men's Competition
Games Live: Women's Competition
Games Live: Team Competition
Games Live: Master's Men Competition
Games Live: Master's Women Competition
CrossFit and ESPN embarked upon a partnership to spread the sport of fitness to a wider audience than ever before.
The 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games: Open and ESPN Coverage
The first big news of the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games season was the announcement of a 10-year title sponsorship deal with Reebok. The new partnership allowed for a dramatic increase in prize money. The winners took home a combined $1 million prize purse, with the male and female individual winners taking home $250,000 each.
The 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games season began with the first ever Open competition. Athletes worldwide competed in six workouts over six weeks from March 15 to May 1, 2011, posting their scores in real time and online. Anyone could throw their hat in the ring to compete for a position among the fittest athletes in the world. More than 26,000 athletes competed in the Open, making it one of the largest sporting events in history.
The 60 fittest athletes and 30 fittest teams from each region earned invitations to one of 17 Regionals. For the first time, Regional competitors around the world all competed in the same events. Across three days of competition and six events from May 27-June 19, 2011, the fittest men, women and teams around the world qualified for the season’s culminating event, the CrossFit Games held July 29-31, 2011 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Surprisingly, the Games began outside of the Home Depot Center. Event 1 took the individual athletes to the Santa Monica Pier for an ocean swim, followed by some beach running and calisthenics. Over the course of 10 events, Rich Froning Jr. and Annie Thorisdottir established themselves as the Fittest on Earth™. After a dramatic final event for the Affiliate Cup, in which the slate was wiped clean and the top six teams battled for the top spot, CrossFit New England prevailed on the team’s side.
2011 witnessed another landmark evolution for the CrossFit Games; CrossFit and ESPN embarked upon a partnership to spread the sport of fitness to a wider audience than ever before. To begin, ESPN3 covered the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games with running Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Six weeks later, ESPN2 ran covering the entire male and female competition on primetime TV. ESPN2 and ESPN re-aired the shows multiple times throughout the fall and winter, building new interest in the CrossFit Games as the community geared up for the 2012 Open.
The Games moved to the Home Depot Center, a professional sporting venue in Los Angeles that has hosted the X-Games and Major League Soccer events.
The 2010 CrossFit Games: The Home Depot Center
In addition to Regionals, the 2010 season added a new qualifying step: Sectionals. From February 13 to March 28, 2010, athletes around the world first competed in smaller Sectional events. The best athletes at Sectionals then moved on to Regionals, the final qualifying step before the Games.
In 2010, the CrossFit Games outgrew the Aromas Ranch that hosted its first three years. The Games moved to the Home Depot Center, a professional sporting venue in Los Angeles that has hosted the X-Games and Major League Soccer events. A couplet of ring muscle-ups and squat snatches dedicated to Amanda Miller kicked off the competition on July 16, 2010.
A total of 45 men and 41 women participated in the 2010 Individual competition. All of them had to qualify in order to enter the competition. After qualifying in the regional level competitions, 68 affiliate teams competed in the 2010 Affiliate Cup. For the first time in CrossFit Games history, the 2010 Games featured male and female Masters competitions. Masters athletes qualified by completing a set of workouts at their local regional competitions.
Graham Holmberg of CrossFit Columbus won the 2010 men’s competition after finishing 19th the year before. Kristan Clever of Valley CrossFit won the women’s competition after a 4th-place 2009 performance. CrossFit Fort Vancouver won the Affiliate Cup Trophy. Brian Curley won the first-ever male Masters competition and Laurie Carver won the female Masters competition.
With a JumboTron towering over the newly-renovated Ranch, the next installment of the Games kicked off
The 2009 CrossFit Games: A Global Phenomenon
The 2009 Games marked the global explosion of CrossFit, with regional qualifiers held in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Iceland, Asia, Australia and Africa, as well as online. What started as a small event two years earlier was suddenly a global phenomenon.
With a JumboTron towering over the newly-renovated Ranch, the next installment of the Games kicked off July 10, 2009. Surrounded by bleachers packed with almost 4,000 fans, just more than 150 elite athletes competed in the individual contest, with close to 100 teams competing in the Affiliate Cup. A live DJ, a vendors' tent village, and a beer garden completed the event.
Given the growth of CrossFit around the world, it seemed fitting that Mikko Salo of Finland arrived quietly in Aromas, but left as the CrossFit Games champion. The stoic Finn’s consistent performance, across eight diverse events of CrossFit movements, earned him both the respect of his peers and a spot atop the podium.
Tanya Wagner, denied a victory in 2008, returned to Aromas to face an international challenge in the form of Annie Thorisdottir, a gifted young athlete from Iceland. This time around, the ebullient schoolteacher from Souderton, Pennsylvania, triumphed.
The Affiliate Cup featured almost 100 teams competing in the first separate team competition. After three workouts, the crew from Northwest CrossFit, in Washington state, was at the top of the standings.
About 800 fans were on hand to watch the event.
The 2008 CrossFit Games: Every Second Counts
In 2008, the Games exploded, with approximately 300 athletes competing in four challenging workouts, including a variant of the signature workout “Fran.” About 800 fans were on hand to watch the event from July 5-6, 2008. Jason Khalipa of Santa Clara, Calif., came from nowhere to beat favorite Josh Everett and won the men’s side of the competition. A documentary film, “Every Second Counts” by Sevan Matossian, was made about the competition, whetting the appetite of ravenous CrossFitters who were already counting down to the following July.
Caity Matter of Ohio was crowned the women’s champion, with Tanya Wagner of Pennsylvania only 10 seconds behind her in the overall standings. CrossFit Oakland’s combined individual efforts earned them the title of Affiliate Cup champions, as well.
California’s Jolie Gentry and Canadian James FitzGerald won the inaugural 2007 CrossFit Games.
The Inaugural 2007 CrossFit Games
CrossFit introduced the sport of fitness to the world in 2007, when a small group of around 70 athletes gathered at a ranch in northern California for the inaugural CrossFit Games.
CrossFit founder, Greg Glassman has always believed the fittest athletes would be able to handle any and every task, so the first event of the 2007 CrossFit Games was chosen randomly. With Coach Glassman presiding, colored balls labeled with movements were pulled from a hopper. A workout was created on the spot, and the assembled athletes were soon tested by a 1,000-meter row followed by five rounds of 25 pull-ups and seven push jerks.
With rowing machines humming in the California sunshine, CrossFit ushered in a new era of fitness competitions—an era where no points are awarded for style or appearance. The only way to win: do more work faster than anyone else, and let the clock be the judge.
California’s Jolie Gentry and Canadian James FitzGerald won the inaugural 2007 CrossFit Games. CrossFit Santa Cruz won the 2007 Affiliate Cup by virtue of its members' placing in the individual events.