"The best part of the process was the energy and excitement of the spectators and staff as the event kicked off and aired. It's really about providing a unique and memorable experience for the local CrossFit community.”
The setup could not have been more perfect.
A warehouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., home to CrossFit South Brooklyn. Inside, a few hundred spectators anticipating the main event — the live announcement of Open Workout 13.2, and the subsequent head-to-head match-up between two-time CrossFit Games champion, Annie Thorisdottir, and two-time CrossFit Games athlete, Lindsey Valenzuela.
As the industrial dock doors rolled up, the crowd roared.
“The atmosphere was awesome,” spectator David Tao says. “When they introduced the athletes and they jogged into the gym, it reminded me of two boxers walking in before a fight. Except I don't think boxers smile that much.”
Valenzuela stepped in at the 11th-hour after visa issues prevented Camille Leblanc-Bazinet from coming to New York from Canada for the match-up with Thorisdottir.
Dusty Hyland, Valenzuela’s coach and co-owner of DogTown CrossFit in Culver City, Calif., was thrilled for the opportunity.
“(Valenzuela) got the call on Monday and there was no doubt,” Hyland says. “This is what CrossFit is about: having fun. You would be crazy not to jump at the opportunity of going head-to-head with Annie.”
As much as the crowd was excited to see the two beauties tackle the workout, they were also nervous to find out what the workout was going to be. As the two competitors warmed up before the announcement, speculation ran rampant.
“It will likely be a heavy triplet,” spectator and CrossFit 5th Avenue coach Bo Babenko, guessed. “I thought maybe deadlifts, box jumps and pull-ups or toes-to-bars, but now that I see the setup, I’m not sure about toes-to-bars or pull-ups.”
The pull-up rig, which ended up on the outside of the competition area, was still put to good use. A number of spectators propelled themselves up with bar muscle-ups, and used the top bars as perches, granting them a better view of the live action.
Once the workout was finally announced, the focus of the crowd turned solely to the two athletes, and how they were going to tackle the workout: a 10-minute AMRAP of five shoulder-to-overhead at 115/75 lb., 10 deadlifts at 115/75 lb. and 15 box jumps at 24/20 inches.
Valenzuela, who is known for her strength, was visibly disappointed, albeit not surprised with the lighter loads prescribed for the workout. She has been working on her conditioning in the off-season, and said she was excited to put it to the test.
Thorisdottir drew chuckles from the crowd with her take on the workout.
“You should be able to go faster. You don’t really need to pace yourself as much, I hope,” Thorisdottir elaborated. “In the box jumps, you should be able to get some sort of rest, since you are stopping at the top of the box.”
The athletes had a couple of minutes to go over the movements, and it was finally go time.
“The energy from the crowd was incredible,” head judge, Adrian Bozman, says. “Just waiting for the ‘3-2-1 … Go!’ before they got started, I had butterflies.”
The crowd was the perfect embodiment of the CrossFit spirit, encouraging and supporting the two athletes through each and every rep.
“It's awesome to see any top Games competitors go head-to-head, but it's especially cool to see two known for different skill sets – in this case Valenzuela for her strength and Annie for her engine,” Tao says.
“Definitely think Annie was favored going into the workout, but the crowd seemed to be behind Lindsey the whole time. The ‘Lift Like Lindsey’ slogan and her obvious passion for competition makes her an easy crowd favorite, no matter what she's about to take on.”
The crowd was treated to an amazing display of stamina and efficiency from both athletes. At the end of the 10 minutes, Thorisdottir came away the victor of the match up with 361 repetitions, while Valenzuela had 335. With half of the repetitions in the workout coming from box jumps, Thorisdottir was able to pull ahead by cycling through them quicker, perhaps due to the nearly non-existent “rest” at the top of the box.
“The workout really came down to the box jumps,” Hyland says. “And Annie’s were better.”
Regardless of the outcome, both athletes looked overjoyed to be a part of such a fun event, and the crowd got what they came for.
"It is hard to appreciate how amazing athletes like Annie and Lindsey really are until you see them in person,” spectator David Blair says. “Watching them destroy 13.2 both motivated me and humbled me all at the same time.”
David Osorio, owner of CrossFit South Brooklyn, sums it up best: “It was an awesome experience having so much of CrossFit HQ and the athletes in our space. It really makes you appreciate what a giant effort it is behind the scenes to make something like this happen. The best part of the process was the energy and excitement of the spectators and staff as the event kicked off and aired. It's really about providing a unique and memorable experience for the local CrossFit community.”