Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Though legless rope climbs have appeared in CrossFit.com WODs and videos dating as far back as 2009, new CrossFit athletes may not have considered them until the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Event, Legless.
The event rewarded athletes who took note last July and took to the rope over the year. Those who dismissed Legless as a stand-alone event or parlor trick only performed on the big stage at the Games, paid the price for their disregard.
But first, athletes had to prove that CrossFit is about more than kipping.
In the descending triplet of handstand push-ups, front squats and burpees, the handstand push-ups had to be performed strict.
For the men of Latin America, Event 4 wasn’t about who was the fastest on each movement, but rather who could hold the most consistent overall pace.
That man was Orlando Trejo.
Among all four heats, Trejo was the only man who looked calm on the floor. Not quite at peace – and who could blame him? – but never showing significant signs of duress.
After “3, 2, 1 …go!” the twelve men of heat four rolled under the wall in unison.
Leonidas Jenkins was the first to make an impression, as the first man off the wall in the set of 21 handstand push-ups. But in his haste to finish the 195-lb. front squats, he put his weight belt on the wrong notch. Dropping the bar to re-adjust, he dropped out of contention.
From there, it was a game of give and take between Orlando Trejo and Chilean competitor Rodrigo Valenzuela of Manada 396 CrossFit.
After doing the set of 15 strict handstand push-ups unbroken, Valenzuela took the lead going into the set of 15 front squats. He also took his time, taking a swig from his water bottle -- he knew there was a lot of work left to do.
Determination on his face and rhythm in his squats, Valenzuela finished seven reps before Trejo picked up his bar.
The more reps Valenzuela logged, the faster he worked. But when he paused to adjust his belt in the round of six front squats, Trejo made his move. Trejo seemed to rebound off his head as he repped out his six handstand push-ups, meeting Valenzuela on the burpees.
In the final round, Trejo went to the redline, passing Valenzuela almost imperceptibly to take the win in 10:58, just one second before Valenzuela.
Surprisingly, the barbell gave Trejo, a former weightlifter, the most trouble in the event.
“The squats where the most difficult thing of all,” Trejo said. “The final (round) was terrible so I did what I had to do. I saw that I (had) a little bit more breath, so I pushed myself to the end.”
Event 4 Results
1. Orlando Trejo (10:58)
2. Rodrigo Valenzuela (10:59)
3. Joel Bran (12:51)
In the third heat of Event 5, Claudio Pobleto of Manada 396 CrossFit brought the fans packing the stadium to their feet.
No one would sit down again.
Everyone in the stands knew what it felt like to hang from a rope, unable to go further, unwilling to let go. So when Pobleto’s arms failed him with two ascents left and three minutes remaining, the fans refused to let him quit.
Six competitors surrounded Pobleto, screaming in his ear. He took three steps back, leapt and swung.
He hung, and he fell. Again, he leaped. Again, he failed.
Gazing upward, he shook out his arms for a final attempt, less than a minute on the clock. The rope spun wildly with his momentum, and the collective roar in the room drowned out the buzzer that ended his fight.
“The worst that can happen in the WOD, like in life, to give up and stop trying,” Pobleto said, after the event. “If you give up you lose. When you feel defeated is the moment to stop (for) one second and re-think what you are doing and keep going … it is the only way to know where you can (go).”
The same furious fervor the crowd showed Pobleto, they gave to Trejo. Shouts of “Trejo, Trejo!” cut through the music as he fought for his final ascent at 5:30, nearly two minutes after the heat’s winners had finished.
But it wasn’t just those who fought against failure who earned the crowd’s approval.
In the final heat, Mark Desin went out in a blaze of glory.
He dominated from the first rep, sprinting the 200 feet between each legless rope climb. When he climbed, he never kipped, but instead pumped the air with his legs as his arms did all the work. By 1:20, he was on his sixth round.
On the eighth round, Desin showed his first sign of struggle -- his sprint slowed to a run. Three minutes in, Francisco Javier made Desin work for his win, both competitors dropping from their final ascents simultaneously. But Desin was five paces faster, taking the win in an astonishing time of 3:23. Javier stepped on the mat just one second later.
Event 5 Results
1. Mark Desin (3:23)
2. Francisco Javier (3:24)
3. Lucas Rosa (3:25)
The Leaderboard has a new look at the end of Day 2.
Emmanuel Maldonado, two-year CrossFit athlete and 2013 Regional competitor, sits in first place with 37 points. Francisco Javier follows with 47 points, while Conor Murphy holds third with 53 points.
Orlando Trejo, defending Regional winner, sits in seventh. To make a third trip to Carson, California, he’ll have to make up a 28-point gap in the final two events -- both of which are likely to favor athletes who are light on their feet and quick on the bar.
1. Emmanuel Maldonado (37)
2. Francisco Javier (42)
3. Conor Murphy (53)
4. Giancarlo Vera Ochoa (59)
5. Rodrigo Valenzuela (59)
6. Alan Garcia (60)
7. Orlando Trejo (65)
8. Mark Desin (69)
9. Tarcio Santos Ferreira (70)
10. Alvaro Lopez (77)
While Antonelli Nicole took the glory in the fourth Regional Event, Vanessa Benavides put in a performance that was all heart. The 19-year-old from Toxic CrossFit in Mexico still had 8 reps on the floor when the clock ran out, but the stands screamed louder for her than for Faba Macias, the first woman to complete the descending ladder of strict handstand push-ups, 125-lb. front squats, and bar-facing burpees within the 21-minute time cap.
View the Latin America Regional in Photos