These athletes are not just trying to beat each other. They are out to break records set earlier by athletes in other regions.
The pain came early on Saturday.
While most of the country looked ahead to a relaxing Memorial Day weekend, CrossFit athletes at the Northern California Regional competition took on Event 4: wall balls, chest-to-bar pull-ups, pistols, and dumbbell snatches. One hundred reps of each for the individual competitors; 30 reps of each for each team member.
This is the second weekend of Regional competitions, so these athletes are not just trying to beat each other. They are out to break records set earlier by athletes in other regions.
In Event 4, NorCal took down SoCal. Jason Khalipa beat Josh Bridges and Diablo CrossFit Anejo took down Brick CrossFit.
How many more records will fall before the weekend ends?
Practice makes perfect.
Jason Khalipa tried out Event 4 three times prior to the competition. His dry runs helped him not only win the event, but set a new world record with a time of 20:15, destroying Bridges’ previous record of 21:01.
Event 4 is a revamped version of the notorious 100s event from 2011. This time, the athletes had to complete 100 reps each of wall balls, chest-to-bar pull-ups, pistols, and 70 lbs. one-arm dumbbell snatches.
Fighting the heat, none of the men in the first three heats finished the work under the 25-minute time cap.
In the third heat, the battle was between 162-lb. Spenser Scott and 190-lb. Will Zerlang. Scott, one of the smaller athletes on the field, was the first to finish his pull-ups, followed closely behind by Zerlang.
From that point on, it was a rep-for-rep fight between Zerlang and Scott. Using his size as an advantage, Zerlang took the lead in the snatches. With only three reps left to go when the clock ran out, his performance gave Zerlang a sixth-place finish, ahead of many of the men in the final heat.
In the final heat, Khalipa set a strong pace and never wavered.
Khalipa, Nick Lucchesi, and Garret Fisher all finished their 100 wall balls in less than 4 minutes. The men then broke their chest-to-bar pull-ups into small sets of five or fewer. None of them wanted to burn out on the bar or—even worse—tear their hands.
Ryan Hignell beat all of the top-ranked men and was the first to finish his pull-ups, with Khalipa about 10 seconds behind.
"I am smaller so I could get through the pull ups faster than Khalipa, and I think I was pacing slower than my usual. I was just trying to keep my pace,” Hignell said.
Hignell held onto his lead through the pistols, finishing almost a minute ahead of Khalipa.
Then, with weight in his hands, Khalipa made his move. Working in sets of five, with short breaks, Khalipa increased his lead over Hignell, who started to falter.
With twenty snatches to go, Neal Maddox overtook Hignell, but nobody could touch Khalipa.
As the crowd counted down his last twenty reps, Khalipa held onto his lead and won the event, earning another world record. He now has three first-place finishes, two of which are world records.
Hignell took third, his best finish so far in the competition.
“You never know what's going to happen,” Hignell said about the rest of the weekend. “I’m looking forward to Sunday's events, they sound fun. I enjoy chippers."
1. Jason Khalipa (20:15)
2. Neal Maddox (22:39)
3. Ryan Hignell (23:11)
1. Jason Khalipa (5)
2. Neal Maddox (16)
3. Garret Fisher (21)
As the day heated up, the women took on the 100s, 2013-style.
Only one woman, Alessandra Pichelli, finished under the time cap. It was a win that shot Pichelli from third to first place, putting her two points ahead of second-place Ashley Carriveau.
The second-to-last heat started off as the Perez show—Jackie versus Stephanie. Stephanie Perez was the first to finish her pull-ups, but Jackie was right on her heels. Even though Jackie had finished her wall balls last, she passed all of the other women on the chest-to-bar pull-ups, and was right behind Stephanie on the pistols.
That’s when Rachel Doucet turned on the heat. Doucet was five seconds behind Stephanie on the dumbbell snatches, and she quickly overtook Stephanie for the lead. In the end, Doucet won her heat with a score that put her in fourth place overall, beating many of the women in the final heat.
As with Event 1, Jackie, Event 4 is all about pacing. Burn through the 100 wall balls and you might not have anything left for the next challenge: 100 chest-to-bar pull-ups.
“My strategy was to do 10 wall balls every 30 seconds and to break up the pull-ups in sets of three and two,” Oldroyd said. “The heat was getting to me and my rest times were a bit longer later in the workout, but you can't pay attention to anyone else,” she said.
Katie Hogan traveled to Southern California last weekend to watch her friend Rebecca Voigt compete, and this weekend Voigt returned the favor, cheering Hogan on from the sidelines. Hogan used Voigt’s wall-ball strategy of never letting go of the ball, and the 5’9” athlete was the first to finish her wall balls.
Annie Sakamoto was one of the last women to finish her wall balls, but when she got to the pull-ups she was on a mission. Within a minute, Sakamoto had done 30 chest-to-bar pull-ups.
Hogan fell behind on the pull-ups, but she kept to her plan, checking with her coach for advice.
“I started the chest-to-bar and the plan was to do three and do two and do three and do two,” Hogan said. “My coach kept showing me fingers,” she said, telling her how many pull-ups to do at a time.
After completing her last three chest to bar pull-ups one at a time, Pichelli started on the pistols, catching up to Sakamoto and Hogan. Swooping both arms toward her feet as she dropped into each one-legged squat, Pichelli finished her pistols in 15:47.
Sakamoto joined Pichelli on the snatches a few seconds later, but Pichelli kept working away, even as she took breaks to examine her hands, damaged from the pull-ups.
Finally, with Hogan on her heels, Pichelli got to the last 10 snatches. With one minute left under the 25-minute time cap, Pichelli threw the dumbbell up again and again. She finished just under the time cap with a time of 24:40.
Hogan took second, 14 reps from finishing.
“I didn’t even know where I was,” Hogan said. “I didn’t know the time, I heard three minutes, and I heard one and a half minutes, but that was it. It was a huge PR,” she said.
1. Alessandra Pichelli (24:40)
2. Katie Hogan (25:14)
3. Annie Sakamoto (25:22)
1. Alessandra Pichelli (12)
2. Ashley Carriveau (14)
3. Annie Sakamoto (18)
On the morning of Day 2, the stands were bright red, packed with Diablo CrossFit fans. This affiliate rolls deep.
"We were known as a party gym years ago, and it turned into a lot of people wanting to compete,” said Diablo head coach Jeremy Jones.
“We have fun first and that brings people in and drives them to compete,” he said.
Event 4, consisting of 30 wall balls, 30 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 30 pistols, and 30 one-arm dumbbell snatches for each of the six teammates, is not about how fast one athlete can get through the ladder. It’s about the order of the athletes, communication, and teamwork.
"The more team stuff the better for us,” said Jeremy Jones. “We know our athletes and know our strategy for them."
The Diablo team is used to working together. Their team is the same that went to the Games last year, with the addition of two new athletes, including Liz Stewart, who competed at the 2012 NorCal Regional competition with CrossFit West.
The final heat started off as a race between CrossFit Santa Cruz and CrossFit 808. After getting the wall balls out of the way, the men did their 30 chest-to-bar pull-ups unbroken.
Neck and neck, the men of Santa Cruz and CrossFit 808 raced through the pistols and dumbbell snatches. Santa Cruz got their first man through all four movements first, slightly ahead of CrossFit 808.
As with many of these team events, everything comes down to the women. While most of the men moved easily through the chest-to-bar pull-ups, this movement became a sticking point for the females.
The woman of CrossFit 808 pulled their team into the lead; they were the first to have a woman finish with all 30 chest-to-bar pull-ups. Breathing down their neck were the women of Santa Cruz and Diablo.
It was during the pull-ups that Diablo made their move.
The team’s anchor, Liz Stewart, worked confidently through big sets of pull-ups, steadily closing in on CrossFit 808, which had held a lead for most of the event.
Santa Cruz fell into third as the final women, Karla Ferguson and Danielle Edmundson, broke their pull-ups into smaller and smaller sets.
Then Elyse Umeda of CrossFit 808 had to wait for her male teammate to finish his dumbbell snatches before she started in.
Meanwhile, Stewart of Diablo kept closing the gap.
Once Stewart finished the pistols and started in on the dumbbell snatches, her team realized she was on pace to beat the world record of 15:38 set by Brick Nation.
Stewart had 10 snatches to go with 14:45 on the clock. She earned a “no-rep” for doing two snatches in a row with the same hand.
Time was running out to beat the world record. Her teammates screaming, Stewart kept working.
She finished in 15:24, which was enough for a new world record.
"I didn't even think about (the pressure),” Stewart said. “I honed in and focused on what I had to do. I told myself that I have the ability and the skill and to give it my all.”
Their win puts Diablo in fourth place overall.
Rocklin CrossFit came in fifth in this event, but they are sitting in third place overall.
Their plan was to “blaze it!” said Rocklin coach Todd Weygandt.
“Our three men are so interchangeable there’s no wrong way to put them. Maybe a better way, but no wrong way. I put our fastest woman first, and told her I would give her a $20 gift card to Starbucks to catch the last man,” he said.
Team Event 4
1. Diablo CrossFit Anejo (15:24)
2. CrossFit 808 (15:54)
3. CrossFit Santa Cruz (17:13)
1. CrossFit 808 (8)
2. CrossFit Santa Cruz (13)
3. Rocklin CrossFit (15)