The sprinting was the easy part of Saturday for Individuals.
Shortly after burning across the field for a 50-yard shuttle sprint and then a 100-yard shuttle, the athletes had to perform a grinding workout: 5 rounds of a 20-foot rope climb and a 20-foot sled drive. Anyone who’s ever pushed a sled will tell you it’s just about the worst thing in world when it’s heavy.
And this one was heavy. The football sled with the big red pad on it looked cool, but competitors proved that pushing it was utterly horrible.
The sprint was fast and furious, but a combined total of 400 meters in the shuttle run meant that athletes had to pace themselves.
“It’s pretty long,” Elisabeth Akinwale said of the sprint. “It didn’t go well for me. After the first 50 meters, I died.”
The first- and second-place spots for the Sprint were taken by women in the second heat. Deborah Cordner Carson took first (46.1), followed closely by Heather Welsh took first (46.2). Their duel went right down to the wire, and but one-tenth of a second separated them. Christy Phillips took third in 47.9 and won the final heat.
In Heat 1 of the Rope-Sled event, Heather Gillespie held the lead for most of the dirty burn, but Lindsey Smith had enough left for a hard finish at the end and blew past her to take first in the heat. Smith had probably pushed a sled before: she was the kicker on the football team at her high school in Indiana.
Smith then went over to cheer Shana Alverson across the line just under the 13-minute cap.
In the third heat, Rebecca Voigt took an early lead, which she steadily increased throughout the workout. Managing the transitions between the sled push and rope climb was a key element of this event. Athletes walked from one movement to another to give their legs a break.
“It didn’t feel like a break,” Akinwale said of the transition. “My hamstrings and glutes got tired, and I tried to loosen them up walking back, but it was tough.”
“I have been practicing with sleds the entire year,” Voigt said. Her work paid off, as she finished Rope-Sled in 8:49, winning her heat and the event overall.
The final heat saw Annie Thorisdottir and Julie Foucher fighting for first place, but Thorisdottir pulled ahead on her second sled push. As the seconds ticked by and the athletes grew fatigued, the women fought to stay low and take a wide stance to efficiently drive the sled across the grass.
Thorisdottir widened her lead as she jogged back to the rope for her final climb. Moving swiftly and easily up the rope, Thorisdottir walked across the field for her final push. Before she put her shoulder into the sled, Thorisdottir raised her arms to the crowd, asking for support. The fans in the packed stadium roared as Thorisdottir finished the workout with a time of 9:11.
Voigt’s time of 8:49.4 was enough to beat Thorisdottir (9:11.3) and give her a win for this event. Azadeh Boroumand was third in 9:58.3.
“It’s awesome,” Voigt said about coming in first in the workout. “It’s what I needed to do, but it’s only one workout. I’ve gotta do it again and again.”
This brutal workout shook up the leaderboard for the women. To the surprise of many, newcomer Talayna Fortunato moved into first with 557 points. She finished well ahead of Foucher on the sprint and has put in consistently strong performances in every event. Foucher now sits second with 553 points, and Thorisdottir has worked her way up to third place, only one point back of second.
Rika Diedericks, the only female athlete from Africa, has withdrawn from competition for an unknown medical reason.
Next up: the Clean Ladder, as well as an as-yet-unannounced workout and cuts to the field.