April 1, 2015
15.5 Leaderboard Analysis
By Mike Macpherson and Megan Mitchell
Learn more about how the community dealt with the nasty couplet of rowing and thrusters.
Learn more about how the community dealt with the nasty couplet of rowing and thrusters.

Rowing and thrusters ... oh my. 

The 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games Open ended with rowing and thrusters.

Open Workout 15.5
27-21-15-9 reps for time of:
Row (calories)
Thrusters (95 lb. / 65 lb.)

Like in past weeks, we take a look at how this played out in the CrossFit community.

Community Performance Breakdown

More than 181,000 people submitted scores for 15.5. 

Here’s the distribution of the Rx'd scores for men and women, 18-54 years old. Two smoothly-sloping mountains of suck. 

The bulk of the athletes finished within the 10-15 minute range with an average time of 12:07 for men and 13:35 for women.

The world's fastest athletes finished well below 7 minutes. Simon Paquette and Mat Fraser tied for the worldwide win with a time of 5:19, while Colleen Fotsch set the fastest time of any female athlete at 6:26. In total, 88 men went sub-6 and 27 women went sub-7 minutes.

As you'll notice in the table below, the difference between the men's and women's scores for each percentile usually amounts to 60-90 seconds.

  Percentile Time Reps/Min
Individual Men World Best 5:19 13.54
  99th 6:46 10.64
  95th 7:54 9.11
  90th 8:40 8.31
  75th 10:07 7.12
  50th 12:08 5.93
  25th 14:35 4.94
Individual Women World Best 6:26 11.19
  99th 8:04 8.93
  95th 9:18 7.74
  90th 10:05 7.14
  75th 11:35 6.22
  50th 13:32 5.32
  25th 15:53 4.53

If you've been keeping track of the number of athletes who posted a score each week, you may have noticed it's less than 273,000 (the number who started the 2015 Open). Attrition happens every year of the Open, but usually Games geeks have to click through the leaderboard to quantify it.

In the table below, you can see how score submissions change over the weeks, falling by up to 10 percent each week with a little more at the beginning than at the end. More than 150,000 athletes completed all five workouts this year; completing the Open is no small feat. Keep in mind these numbers aren’t official or final because the leaderboard is still in flux while validation goes on. But they’re probably not far off.

2015 Roster 273K (100%)
Week 1 246K (90%)
Week 2 224K (82%)
Week 3 205K (75%)
Week 4 201K (73%)
Week 5 182K (66%)
Completed Open 150K (55%)

Not So Gently Down the Stream 

Ironically, considering how nasty the workout is, 15.5 was the most accessible Open workout from a scaling perspective with the highest proportion of both men and women going Rx'd.

We looked into all of the different ways competitors have interacted with the Rx’d and scaled versions of the workouts over the five weeks. The graphic below shows the top eight combinations for the athletes ages 18-54 who have submitted scores for all of the workouts.

Notice the differences between the sexes. Men and women have the same three most common patterns—all Rx'd, all Rx'd except 15.3 and all scaled—though their orders are reversed.

The majority of men did all of the workouts Rx’d (63.8 percent), while the most common pattern for women was to scale all of the workouts (24.6 percent).

The second most common pattern for men and women was to do everything Rx’d except 15.3, presumably because they do not have a muscle-up yet.

And the third most common pattern for men was to scale everything, while women Rx’d everything.

It’s important to note there was no dominant pattern for women. All scaled was the most common, but accounted for only 24.6 percent of the field. A full 52.2 percent could be said to be on the “all Rx’d track,” though only 17.7 percent made it all the way to the end. Twenty-three percent took a brief detour to scaled only when muscle-ups came up (15.3), and another 11.3 percent detoured twice for weeks 3 and 4 when muscle-ups and then handstand push-ups were the requirements of entry.

15.5 Variability

Last week we observed the consistency at the community level across the 17 regions on Workout 15.4. 

This time we compare each region’s elite, looking at the average 15.5 time among the top 25 men and top 25 women from each of the 17 regions.

The competition is fairly close here; there's only a drop of about a minute across either plot and just seconds between most regions. The three traditionally weaker regions, Latin America, Asia and Africa still have some catching up to do on the elite level. Meanwhile, the North East elite have about the highest pain thresholds out there. Maybe dealing with countless snow days does something to you.

This led us to look at 15.5 performance across the United States, state by state. We show the average worldwide 15.5 percentile of all 18-54 competitors, both men and women. Vermont was the fittest state in the union on 15.5, followed by Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota. There seem to be better scores on average in these less-populous, chilly states to the west of the Missisippi. Reason unknown. 

Characteristics of Strong 15.5 Performance

Here's a fun, if sobering plot. This shows the fastest Rx'd 15.5 times in the world for athletes 14 to 65 years old. Each dot on here represents one athlete's smoking-fast time.

The solid circles are for athletes ages 18-­54 who did the 95/65-lb. thruster; the open circles are for athletes in divisions where the Rx'd workout required lighter thrusters. The dashed line is fitted to the 18­-54-year-old athletes and it shows pretty clearly that just like in "Logan's Run," things start to get grim after 30.

We looked at the relationships between 15.5 times and all the data listed on the Games athlete pages for 18-54 Rx'd times for both sexes.

For this workout, for men the factors most closely associated with faster 15.5 time were: younger age, slower 5-km time, faster Filthy Fifty time, heavier 1-rep-max snatch and heavier bodyweight.

For the women, it was faster Fran time, younger age, heavier body weight and greater max pull-ups.

We thought being taller would go with better performance, and it does to an extent, but it was well down the list. The common denominator for performance this week seemed to be the larger athlete with a big engine. When we plot average 15.5 performance by weight, we can see this pretty clearly; it helped to be a bit bigger to spin that flywheel and push that barbell around.

Congratulations on a great Open. Any way you run the numbers, this is one seriously fit community.