Much like the athletes, the crowd was not going to let the final event of the 2013 Australia Regional pass them by without soaking up every moment.
Over the course of the day the crowd increased in size and in spirit, and their chants and screams got even louder as the athletes took to competition floor for Event 7.
Blaring from the speakers were the words “We will rock you” and that they did.
Australia’s top female athletes recorded world-class times in the final heat, while male competitor Matt Healey wore even less material than he did in on Day 1, completing Event 7 in his swim wear.
Only 11 points separated first and fourth place in the Team division, and while Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne held an eight point lead heading into the final Event, the Regional title was still up for grabs.
Heading into Event 7, five of the six individual competitors who competed at the 2012 CrossFit Games were in the top three in their respected divisions, but they still needed to perform to ensure their tickets to Carson, Calif., were secure.
In the Men’s half, Rob Forte, Chad Mackay and Brandon Swan were all leading the way, and in prime position to secure another ticket to the Games.
It was still mathematically possible for Brent Fikowski to qualify for the Games, but he needed to make up 10 points to Brandon Swan to steal third place.
As for the female competitors, Amy Dracup would have to claw back five points in the final heat to leapfrog Pip Malone on the Leaderboard and qualify.
Much to the crowds delight, the final event was a spectators dream with two ascending rope climbs, sharp 100-foot sprints and four heavy squat cleans.
Event 7 proved to be beyond the reach of all bar five of the teams, with many failing to get beyond their second of three rounds inside the 20-minute time cap. The movement standards for the squat cleans quickly became an issue as teams struggled with the heavy weight.
CrossFit Geelong was the standout in Heat 1; however, they only got to their final pair before time ran out, with no other team able to get beyond their second pairing.
More athletes were able to cope with the workout in heat 2, but while teams came close, they were still unable to finish the workout inside the time cut-off.
Functional Strength CrossFit looked like they would be able to complete the rope climb and squat clean complex after their first two pairs were through in 12 minutes; however, the weight proved too heavy for their final female member, who persevered but stopped just short.
“If there was any (event) that suited us this weekend, it was this one,” Nick Collins of Functional Strength CrossFit said.
“It was good that the weights were heavy enough to make sure that you were punished if you didn’t have good technique,” fellow team member Lauren Roberts added.
Heat 3 saw the first team in the Region complete the event, with CrossFit Southern putting in an outstanding performance to win the heat in a time of 16:38.
Their victory saw them leapfrog CrossFit Horizons to claim third spot in the Region and secure a ticket to Carson, Cali.
“We're pretty fucking happy! It was a great way to finish the team event with a win. Some of the workouts didn’t go our way but overall it's great,” Hayden Thorneycroft of CrossFit Southern said.
CrossFit Active finished second in a time of 18:37 and were chased to the end by CrossFit Norwest in 18:51.
“There was a lot of pressure on us to go well on that last (event) given that we are a little behind on points. I’m really proud of the guys!” CrossFit Active team captain Luke Starr said.
After three tough days of competition the Australia Region will be sending Schwartzs CrossFit Melbourne, CrossFit Active and Southern CrossFit to the Games. This will be the second year in a row for Schwartzs CrossFit Melbourne who placed 9th at the 2012 CrossFit Games.
“Most teams have strong guys. The difference with us is that we have awesome strong girls too and that gives us the advantage,” Ben Schwartz said.
“Our girls aren’t big, but they are strong and have big hearts. Oh and if there is one other difference? We support the vertically challenged at Schwartzs!”
1. Southern CrossFit (16:57)
2. CrossFit Active (18:36)
3. CrossFit Norwest (18:51)
1. Schwartzs CrossFit Melbourne (25)
2. CrossFit Active (31)
3. Southern CrossFit (33)
Event 7 pushed the men to the edge of their limits with some struggling hard with the heavy squat clean weight. Many failed to complete the workout inside the 10-minute cap.
The athletes were clearly exhausted at the end of the weekend with many puffing hard and walking, not running, from the rope climbs to the cleans.
In earlier heats, only one man proved himself able to contend with the leaders with heat 3 winner Nathan Beves going on to place second overall for the event in a time of 4:40.
Heading into the final Event, Rob Forte, Chad Mackay and Brandon Swan held the top three places, and barring injury or a disastrous performance in the workout, they were the three who would be earning tickets to the Games in July.
With the best CrossFitters in the Region taking to the stage in Heat 4 all eyes were on the centre lanes, with first place qualifier Forte lining up next to last years champion Mackay.
But it was Matt Healey who stole the show yet again, choosing to complete the workout in a tiny bathing suit, known as “budgie smugglers” to those down under.
While his fellow athletes laughed at Healey’s “look”, Mackay remained stone faced, completely focused and in the zone. Forte, however, had the workout under control from the first rope climb.
“I’m fast at rope climbs so I sort of set the pace. I was consistent on the cleans, took a couple of breaths between reps and just tried to move fast on the rope climbs,” Forte said.
Forte finished the final heat in an impressive time of 4:25 with Mahdi Te Heu Heu sneaking into second, while Mackay calmly finished his work, never appearing to rush.
“When I finished that workout I kind of put my hands on my knees and shook my head – I didn’t think I was able to do it this year but everything just played out well. Things have a funny way of working out. I’m actually speechless,” Mackay said.
Brandon Swan tied for eighth place but had done plenty over the course of the weekend to hold onto third spot for a return trip to the Games.
“It was hard work to get there, but it was all worth it. It’s even better that Chad made it too because he’s like a big brother,” Swan said.
1. Rob Forte (4:25)
2. Nathan Beves (4:40)
3. Mahdi Te Heuheu (4:51)
1. Rob Forte (44)
2. Chad Mackay (51)
3. Brandon Swan (61)
Before the big names entered the arena, the minor heats still saw competitors fight fiercely to improve their overall standings on the Australia Regional leaderboard.
After exceling at the axle components of Event 6, the first event of the day, Madeleine Jacques again demonstrated that she is well suited to power and strength work.
Jacques concluded her 2013 Australia Regional campaign by winning the Heat 1 in a time of 6:54.
In Heat 2, it became evident that the majority of the women who had performed well with the axle this morning would be very proficient with the heavy cleans of Event 7.
Claire Fernandez, Erin Gladstone and Samantha Drescher kept a similar pace throughout. Fernandez and Gladstone stepped onto the finish mat in a tie that was too close to call from the stands, but Fernandez ended up winning the heat by just one second.
“I’m pretty proud of my results. I wanted to finish all seven events.” Gladstone said.
Placing eighth in heat 3 was former Olympic hurdler Andrea Miller, who was awarded the Spirit of the Games award for the 2013 Australia Regional.
Miller put on a brave performance after suffering from asthma on Day 2 and requiring oxygen therapy at the end of Event 6. With less than 12 months of CrossFit experience, Miller finished the Open 11th in Australia and admits that she is still adjusting to CrossFit.
“CrossFit is still new to me and it will take time for me to become CrossFit fit,” Miller said.
The crowd was ecstatic as the top 12 women in Australia entered the arena for the final heat. While Kara Webb came into the event with a virtually untouchable first place, only seven points separated Pip Malone, Ruth Anderson Horrell and Amy Dracup through second to fourth positions.
“We’ve been really tightly bunched, the top four or five girls,” Anderson Horrell said. “It’s been a competitive field, which is great.”
Amanda Allen, who finished first place in the Open, and secured a ticket to the Games as a master in the new 40-45 category, came into the event in fifth place – 10 points behind the third place qualification zone.
In order to secure an Open ticket to the Games, not only would Allen have to perform exceptionally well, she would need Malone or Anderson Horrell to perform exceptionally poorly.
Anderson Horrell led the field in the early stages of the workout, dominated the first round of cleans, but Pip Malone pushed hard early on, making it clear that she would work for her top three place to the very end.
Tiring relatively quickly however, Malone finished 8th in the heat with a time of 5:31, luckily still maintaining her top three place overall and securing a ticket to the Games.
“I completely underestimated how sore my body was going to be,” Malone said. “I tried keeping up with Ruth in the first two rounds, but she was… wow… amazing.”
By the end of the second round, Anderson Horrell held a comfortable lead ahead of Allen in second place. But Allen proved she was still a world class competitor but closing in on her in final two rounds.
Anderson Horrell, Allen and Webb were the first female athletes to set their bars on the Round Four marker. The top three women showed no signs of tiring with Allen completing her final set of squats ‘touch-and-go.’
Anderson Horrell and Webb dropped the bar in between repetitions but wasted no time at all picking it straight back up again, with Anderson Horrell stepping onto the finish mat first in a world record time of 4:25 – which was the exact same time as Rob Forte in the men’s event.
Allen finished in 4:30, with a time that would also have broken the previous world record set by Samantha Briggs.
“There’s an amazing field of women here. I’m not done yet. I was always going to take it [Masters’ ticket to the Games] as a backup but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind,” Allen said. “I’ll do it all again in 12 months – I’ll be back bigger and better.”
Kara Webb retained her first position overall and is looking forward to the Games.
“I’m so pumped. You know, you work really hard all year and you always wonder if last year was a fluke and I think I’ve proved to myself, more than anyone. All my support crew has known it [wasn’t a fluke] for a long time.”
The top three women all finished in times faster than the second fastest males competitor in the event, a display of pure guts and strength.
The women finished the day in top form, gathering around fellow competitor Lindsay Hurte to offer encouragement and support as she struggled to complete the final set of rope climbs – showing the true spirit of CrossFit.
1. Ruth Anderson Horrell (4:25 WR)
2. Amanda Allen (4:30)
3. Kara Webb (4:39)
1. Kara Webb 16
2. Ruth Anderson Horrell 33
3. Pip Malone 37