“This is not just the first major sport spawned from a peanut roaster, but a moment in physical culture, a rather audacious crowning by CrossFit Inc. of the Fittest Man and Woman on Earth from, of all things, a list of friends competing over a weekend.”
CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman wrote that line for the CrossFit Games program in 2013, and the peanut roaster threw back to the inaugural CrossFit Games, held in 2007 at The Ranch in Aromas, Calif.
The first event of those Games was chosen randomly. With Coach Glassman presiding, colored balls labeled with movements were pulled from a hopper at random. A workout was created on the spot, and the assembled athletes were soon tested by a 1,000-meter row followed by five rounds of seven push jerks (135/85 lb.) and 25 pull-ups.
It was a line in the dusty NorCal sand: one that side of the line, you’ve got spray tans, bulging biceps, steroids and sequined suits. On this side of the line, you’ve got functional fitness; work capacity; and measurable, observable and repeatable results—and beer for the party afterward.
The best time back in 2007 was 13:07 by Brett Marshall of CrossFit Calgary.
In 2013, the first event of the first Games was back on the agenda, with Marshall in the crowd to watch.
Training in January 2012, Josh Bridges did the workout in 8:34, a time that shows the evolution of the CrossFit athlete from 2007 to 2013. In 2013, he beat that time—barely—under the lights at the Games.
Back in 2007, 135-lb. shoulders-to-overheads were considered heavy, but seven years later the weight was a joke for athletes who threw the barbell around like it was weightless. Unbroken shoulder-to-overhead sets weren’t an accomplishment—they were an expectation.
Daniel Tyminski set the tone in the first heat with a winning time of 9:12.5. But that time wouldn’t hold up for long, as Lacee Kovacs bested him by 2.1 seconds in Heat 2.
In heat after heat, the event was won and lost on the pull-ups, with early leaders often flaming out in the later rounds and being passed by those with more endurance on the pull-up bar.
After the last flight of men stepped aside for four women’s heats, the packed house went wild when the top male athletes entered to finish off the day of competition.
Josh Bridges was the man to watch. He said he was excited when the event was announced as he had done it before and knew exactly what it would feel like. Bridges took the lead early in the second round and then started to pull away from Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa and Scott Panchik. He finished in 8:33.8, the fastest time of the night, giving him his second victory of the day.
“I can’t complain about a WOD with 125 pull-ups,” Bridges said after his win. “I don’t get tired.”
Bridges has won three of the last four events to pull into sixth overall, and only 22 points separate third from sixth. A 36 on the Clean and Jerk event balanced the wins, but he’s still in great position heading into the final day of competition.
Well out front are Khalipa and Froning. The former is 22 points behind the latter, and Khalipa has a 64-point cushion over third-place Garret Fisher.
With two Games winners atop the standings, the final day of competition promises to be a trial of champions.
The women’s side was a similar story. The shoulder-to-overheads were a breeze, while the pull-ups decided the event.
Natalie McClain started out Heat 1 with blazing speed, doing her first set of pull-ups unbroken and breaking her next two rounds into just two sets each. She beat the rest of her heat by an entire round, finishing in 9:55.5.
In Heat 2, it was Camille Leblanc-Bazinet whom everyone expected might be able to best McClain’s time. But a handful no-reps on her pull-ups cost her time, and she was forced to break them into multiple sets after the first two rounds. She ended with a time of 10:03.9.
When the final heat began, the question was whether anyone would better McClain’s time from the first heat.
"I don't want to get my hopes up," McClain said as she watched the final heat. "I don't like to get too excited."
The final heat was all Valerie Voboril—“Teacher-Mother” as one NorCal affiliate owner dubbed her on Facebook. Voboril’s pull-ups looked as strong as McClain’s throughout the event. Even in the fourth round, the fourth-grade teacher managed to complete 24 pull-ups in a row before dropping off the bar with only one rep left. She was well ahead of anyone in her heat, and she raced through the final set of overhead lifts to finish just over seven seconds ahead of McLain, who dropped to second.
Voboril’s big win was enough to launch her into third place in the overall standings heading into the final event of competition. Christy Phillips also has 602 points, but Voboril’s event win is the tiebreaker. Alessandra Pichelli is in second, 37 points behind leader Samantha Briggs, who took 10th on 2007 and is still entrenched atop the overall standings.
1. Josh Bridges (8:33.8)
2. Lacee Kovacs (9:10.4)
3. Daniel Tyminski (9:12.5)
Overall leader: Rich Froning
1. Valerie Voboril (9:48.4)
2. Natalie McLain (9:55.5)
3. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (10:03.9)
Overall leader: Samantha Briggs
For complete standings and all scores from all divisions, visit the Leaderboard.