Volume has a tendency to increase on the final of competition. Today was no exception.
In celebration of the Memorial Day holiday, the annual Rolling Thunder motorcyclists “Ride for Freedom” rumbled passed the Patriot Center during the Mid Atlantic Regional. The roaring crowd of CrossFit fans inside the building drowned the loud engines out.
They were anxious and ready to see who would be crowned a regional champion and head to the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games in July.
The stands were filled with spectators eager to see if the athletes in Heat 3 would break the event record from an earlier regional weekend. None of the men surpassed the record, but in case of an emergency at the Patriot Center, feel free to call Brad Chilva from CrossFit Reston.
The 25-year-old firefighter was the first male athlete to turn around going into the second half of the ring dips and stayed calm and consistent all the way to his second row.
Chilva kept a steady pace throughout the event. When he finished his second set of 50 deadlifts and walked to the box jumps, the crowd exploded with excitement.
Nathan Keil, who placed second on Nasty Girls V2 earlier this weekend, made a move to close the distance between him and Chilva.
Keil was second on the box jumps. According to him, this was his plan all along going into the 50s. He did not finish the chipper, but made an amazing attempt at catching Chilva with a finish in 21:02.
“My goal was to be efficient,” Keil said. “As my coach likes to say, ‘It’s the war of attrition.’ The longer you can last, the better it’s gonna be. With a lot of reps, it’s gonna really hurt bad. My coach and I tweaked some things after watching athletes in other regions.”
He added: “This felt great and I wanted to finish, but I gave it my all.”
The chipper was mentally and physically draining on the these athletes, but Chilva managed to finish.
“At the halfway point I knew I had a chance,” Chilva said. “I just turned it up a little bit. It was one pull at a time (the last row). Pretty exhausting.”
Ben Smith said he was not happy with his overall performance. He returned to the rower, but was unable to finish the 50 calories in time.
“That did not go as planned because I didn’t finish it,” Smith said. “A (did not finish) was never part of my plan for today, but the deadlifts were a lot harder than I expected. My legs were a lot more fatigued than I thought they’d be and they slowed me down significantly. I tried to catch up on the box jumps but I couldn’t make up that time. I tried but it wasn’t enough.”
Although Smith finished fourth in the chipper with a time of 21:15, he still held on to first place overall and planned to use his training strategy to maintain that lead.
“My training is planned out based on how I’m feeling that day, not in advance, so in competitions I stick to that,” Smith said. “Of course, some performances are based on my gut calls on the floor so I go by feel, too.”
Before heading into the final event Keil planned to recover as quickly as possible.
“I feel good about the event but everything hurts so bad right now,” Keil admitted. “I did the next event in practice and I didn’t have any problems. I hope to split up the pull-ups so I can do the overhead squats unbroken and put up a solid score.”
Nate Schrader also planned to take it easy in the final moments before Event 7. “I plan to do the usual: a cool down, recovery drink, foam roll and eat some food,” he said.
In second place and with a one-point separation from Smith, Schrader had a solid buffer going into the final event. In fact, if Smith allowed for any upset in the couplet of pull-ups and overhead squats, Schrader would have a chance to take first place on the podium.
Event 6 Results
1. Brad Chilva (20:45)
2. Nathan Keil (21:02)
3. Nate Schrader (21:11)
The final event of the Mid Atlantic Regional rested in the hands of the most elite athletes in the region.
Knowing this couplet of pull-ups and overhead squats would be taxing after this morning’s chipper had an impact on possible strategy.
Smith went almost completely unbroken on the pull-ups.
“It went exactly as I planned,” he said after the event. “I was able to get 51 pull-ups in my first set. I was really happy with that.”
Jordan Troyan appeared to be in survival mode. After a 10th-place finish in the Event 5, Troyan maintained a calm and steady stream of reps to complete the couplet. His consistency paid off this weekend—he is headed to Carson, California, for the second time.
“I’m super excited,” Troyan said. “I don’t take this for granted and I know it’s not easy to make it every year. I’m really excited, that’s all I can say.”
He is already planning his approach to the Games. “I plan to get my volume up ‘cause I know the Games is a lot more workouts and even more intense,” he said. “Recovery from every workout is really going to be important.”
With a very strong weekend of competition, Schrader managed to finish in the top 10 for every single event. He was hoping his training this past year would help in this endeavor.
“I was ready for redemption from last year,” Schrader said of his sixth-place finish in 2013. “I felt like I was in great shape last year, but I peaked too early and after that regional weekend, I felt bad and couldn’t recover.”
Schrader made a full recovery in 2014 and will join Smith and Troyan at the Games.
“I’m feeling good about the weekend,” Schrader said. “I’m glad it’s over and ready to get back to Carson.”
Smith will return to the Games for a sixth consecutive year ending this weekend in first overall with three first-place finishes.
“It’s been a tough weekend and I’m pretty sore,” Smith said. “I’m happy to end on a good note, go back to the Games again and compete hard there. I feel better than last year because I am not going in with an injury.”
Event 7 Results
1. Sean Thomson (2:03)
2. Ben Smith (2:05)
3. Craig Williams (2:15)
CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. Ben Smith (33)
2. Nate Schrader (38)
3. Jordan Troyan (61)
With the longest time cap in all of the events, the women’s chipper started quietly during the first 50-calorie row. Some female athletes took more strokes on the rower than others, but Olympic sailor Anna Tunnicliffe was the first female to reach the box jump overs.
Tunnicliffe flipped her box following the first 10 reps to start on her next set when Alea Helmick stepped off of the rower.
Helmick chose to perform the box jump overs laterally while Tunnicliffe chose to jump straight forward.
The lateral jumps worked in Helmick’s favor as they reached the deadlifts. Helmick looked over to see Tunnicliffe’s progress after every set of reps.
Christy Adkins started to make up some distance as she reached the deadlifts and Emily Friedman followed close behind her.
With a 10-rep lead over Helmick, Tunnicliffe made her way to the wall-ball shots and immediately began work on the set. She said was excited about her performance overall.
“I was just psyched it started really well,” Tunnicliffe said, “I just tried to extend and hold the lead right off the bat.”
There was a three-rep difference between Adkins and Helmick as they whittled away at the wall-ball shots. Helmick’s height should have played to her advantage against other athletes; however, she said she “got no repped a few times on the wall balls. I think it was the target because it was off the wall, so that was a little bit of a struggle.”
Tunnicliffe’s lead slowly increased as she embarked on the most difficult movement of the event: ring dips. While the dips held up a lot of the athletes at the halfway point, Tunnicliffe was the first to turn to face the rest of her work.
With most of the athletes completing the ring dips in sets of two or three, it was clear that this movement was more difficult for some than others.
Emily Friedman appeared to struggle at first.
“The standards on the ring dips were a little tricky,” Friedman said. “It’s just a tough movement.”
Placing fourth on this event, Teresa Luz used a butterfly dip technique to breeze through larger sets of dips than most.
Despite being the overall leader going into this event, Gretchen Kittelberger was one of the last athletes to embark on the ring dips. She had predicted this event might be difficult for her.
Adkins and Helmick made the turn for the last 25 ring dips at the same time, just as Tunnicliffe finished her last reps of dips.
The crowd enthusiastically chanted as Tunnicliffe whipped through her last 50 wall-ball shots. Adkins and Helmick trailed almost two minutes behind her.
As soon as Tunnicliffe completed her first set of 10 deadlifts, her fans began to chant her name and count down her final reps. With 20 reps completed for Tunnicliffe, Adkins started to pick up her pace.
Helmick followed closely behind Adkins, only trailing four reps behind in the deadlifts. Luz and Friedman were eager to complete as many reps as they could into the deadlifts as Tunnicliffe started on her last set of box jump overs.
With one minute left to pull as many calories as she could, Tunnicliffe strapped into the rower. Having been close for the entire event, Adkins and Helmick rushed to finish their box jumps in the hopes of getting back to the rower.
Adkins moved methodically through her box jumps as she had planned.
“I got to practice it with Julie Foucher and Jen Smith the week they were announced,” she said. “I tried to calm my nerves by thinking, ‘Remember you did it with them and it was fun, so go have fun, you have the most fun when you do your best.’”
Tunnicliffe was able to complete 13 calories before the 21-minute time cap expired.
“The goal was to go out and win that event,” Tunnicliffe said. “The goal was obviously to finish the event, but that would have been really hard to do.”
Adkins was the only other female rower to reach the rower with a final time of 21:50.
With a first place finish for Tunnicliffe, the leaderboard shifted in her favor to close the gap for qualifying positions. Only six points separate the top four females, all 2013 Games competitors, in the quest to return to Carson.
Event 6 Results
1. Anna Tunnicliffe (21:38)
2. Christy Adkins (21:50)
3. Alea Helmick (22:02)
Kittelberger did not win a single event this weekend. She was worried about the new female athletes moving into the Mid Atlantic neighborhood.
“I had counted myself out after the Open,” the former gymnast laughed. “The region is so hard. When the regional workouts came out I thought, ‘Maybe I have a chance.’”
Additionally, she was nervous going into the Event 6, but this final event fell in her favor. She paced her pull-ups enough to conserve energy and go unbroken in the set of eight overhead squats.
Going into Event 7, Tunnicliffe needed to finish at least two spots higher than Friedman.
“Going into it I knew that there were people I had to beat. I got on the finish mat and didn’t know if I had done it. It was very close,” Tunnicliffe said. “Every point counted all the way through the weekend. I just gave it everything I had and hoped for the best.”
Adkins had a consistent competition and finished in the top 15 through every event, but struggled slightly in the last event.
“I really didn’t know after that last event if I was even going to make it or not,” Adkins said. “I have practiced that more than any other workout this weekend because overhead squats are my biggest weakness. My forearms were so blown up from the chipper that I couldn’t keep the bar overhead. I’m just glad I got it done.”
Not only did Adkins get it done, she will travel back to the Games for the sixth time. She finished in second overall.
“I’m really excited to go back,” Adkins said. To be honest, I’m still in shock.”
Kittelberger finished the weekend with a six point lead over Adkins and can’t wait to test herself on the big stage again this summer.
“I’m so excited,” Kittelberger said. “It’s going to be great. Christy and I trained together a couple of times a week, so to go to the Games with my training partner is going to be really special. The CrossFit community is amazing – these are my best friends.”
Event 7 Results
1. Dara Ching (2:19)
2. Gretchen Kittelberger (2:20)
3. Alea Helmick (2:35)
CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. Gretchen Kittelberger (37)
2. Christy Adkins (43)
3. Anna Tunnicliffe (43)
The final verdict is in and the top three men and women have been chosen to represent the Mid Atlantic at this year’s CrossFit Games.