A harvest moon waited patiently in the autumn air for the first athletes to arrive at the stadium, before making a hurried exit ahead of the dawn.
And while that air is fresh and crisp in the city, it’s taking its toll on athletes from the coast. Many report tiring faster, feeling sluggish and even struggling with sore throats.
The number of athletes was down from the first day, with only two teams surviving, 15 of the original 33 women going through and four men dropping out.
But nothing could dampen the spirits of the CrossFit community. This is still the biggest CrossFit event the African community has seen, with numbers participating in the region’s Open more than quadrupling. For the community, there’s something very special about it all, a little like starting the day with the sun and moon shining for you at the same time.
In the first two heats of Event 4, most athletes progressed from the rhythmic thud of the wall balls to grunts of agony on pull-up bar, where they chipped away at the 100s, until the judge called, “Time.”
The women struggled. “Long workouts are actually a mental thing,” Lorinda van Loggerenberg said. “I actually prefer the short ones.”
Only in the final heat did competitors move through all stations, but not one female finished the event in the 25-minute time cap.
As competitors in the final heat moved smoothly through the wall balls, it was Rika Diedericks and Mona Pretorius who were first on the bar. At well over 6-feet tall, Diedericks’ long sweeping movements were in beautiful juxtaposition with the petite Pretorius’s small, quick pulls.
They were joined quickly my Carla Nunes da Costa and Beatrix Snyman who placed second and fifth, respectively in Day 1’s afternoon events.
When Celestie Engelbrecht, third place after Day 1, flew up onto the bars, the crowd cheered. She rapidly flew through strings of butterfly pull-ups.
Diedericks took the pull-ups at a steady pace and looked calm as she stepped onto the mat for the pistols. The 2012 Regional winner moved at a steady pace. She was soon joined by Nunes da Costa, who looked to be taking strain. Engelbrecht was next to the pistols while Open winner Pretorius continued chip away at the chest-to-bar pull-ups.
Diederick’s slow, but steady pace saw her working through her last 20 pistols while Nunes da Costa and Engelbrecht were on their third set of 20.
In a burst of speed, Pretorius hit the 80-rep mark while Nunes da Costa and Engelbrecht were pumping through the pistols.
“I had to play catch up which was not fun,” said Pretorius. “Pull-ups are a weakness for me, so they were a killer.”
The reigning Fittest Woman in Africa worked methodically through the snatches as she was joined first by Engelbrecht and then Pretorius. Nunes da Costa just made it to the snatches when the judge called time.
“I got no-repped a few times on the wallballs,” said Diedericks, “but I knew that once I got past the chest to bars everything would be easy because I was confident in my pistols.”
The scene on the floor tugged at the heartstrings as competitors shared hugs and Nunes da Costa collapsed in pain after injuring her knee.
“In the end it was a mental push for me!” said Pretorius.
It was Nunes da Cosa who received a heroes’ send-off, the crowd cheering as she waved while she was helped off the floor.
1. Rika Diedericks (26:15)
2. Mona Pretorius (26:27)
3. Celestie Engelbrecht (26:31)
The first three heats in this long event rolled past and by the time athletes lined up for heat four the crowd was ready and waiting for a face-off between the competitions’ top men.
Regional newcomer Ivan Kruger took a lead early on. Jason Smith who closed day one in second place and 2012 winner David Levey were right on his tail.
“The pull-ups were the worst movement,“ Smith said. “the workout felt much easier in training that it did on the floor.”
To the chant of, “Ivan, Ivan, Ivan, Ivan,” the young Kruger dropped from the bar and strode to the pistol mat. Levey was right behind and as his shirt hit the ground, the crowd started a second wave of cheering.
Smith took his place for pistols next and Wolff who continued to surprise spectators with his speed, sped up alongside him.
With Kruger, Smith and Wolff going strong, Levey’s lead looked to be in jeopardy. Especially when they all made it off the mat and on to the snatches ahead of Levey.
“The pistols were the hardest,” Kruger said. “I had the most no reps on those. Overall, I would have rested more if David hadn’t been on my tail.”
The men struggled on the one-arm dumbbell snatches. After every few reps they paused, before soldiering on again. The judge called time with Levey, Kruger and Smith snatching on the 60-rep marked mat.
The final heat did not deliver all the event’s winners. While Levey took first place and Kruger and Smith tied for third, second place went to veteran Games athlete Danie du Preez.
du Preez, who elected to compete as an individual although he qualified for the Masters competition, said it was a tough event. “The event was torture. But it made me work harder and helped me get back up there with the top guys.”
1. David Levey (25:44)
2. Danie du Preez (25:47)
3. Ivan Kruger (25:48)
In CrossFit, we shout loudest for the ones who come last. Spectators welcomed all the teams like champions, even though only CrossFit Platinum and CrossFit PBM were competing for a spot the the 2013 Reebok CrossFit games. The rest were out of the competition and here for the love of CrossFit.
“We want to show what we can do so we are going to continue to show we are still one of the strongest teams,” said Chris Oman of the Cape CrossFit Avengers team.
The buzz of the morning was about CrossFit Platinum having the strongest female competitors while CrossFit PBM have a stronger male contingent.
The CrossFit PBM men proved that point by clearing the way for their female competitors. The first woman from CrossFit PBM was on to the pull-ups while CrossFit Platinum still had a man on the dumbbell snatches.
In the wake of the male competitors, the first PBM female competitor hit the pistols while the first Platinum female was still working her way through the pull-ups.
Then, the tide turned. CrossFit Platinum’s Mary Jamieson hit the pistols, pumping through them quickly. Jamieson took the lead and finished with their second female finishing close behind.
CrossFit Platinum coach Julian Reichman isn’t surprised. “The team is only as strong as the ladies, and our ladies are strong!”
1. CrossFit Platinum (8:50)
2. CrossFit PBM (11:29)