This article will be updated as Day 1 of the CrossFit Games unfolds.
EVENT 1: CRIT
The first day of the CrossFit Games has historically increased in difficulty each year.
The 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games opened with swimming and muscle-ups in The Pool and closed with a half-marathon row. A year later, 2014's Day 1 started on the beach and ended with a max overhead squat. Then, in 2015, athletes completed a Pier Paddle—swimming and paddling—and Sandbag 2015, an event that required athletes to move hundreds of pounds of sandbags across the stadium. Two years ago, 2016 marked the first year that there were three events on Day 1: a 7-km trail run, a heavy deadlift ladder and a fast chipper with wall-ball shots, GHD sit-ups and a hill sprint.
Last year, Madison welcomed athletes on Day 1 with Run Swim Run, Cyclocross, and Amanda .45, a beefed-up version of the well-known workout that consists of muscle-ups and squat snatches.
In its 12th year, the Games aren't getting any easier. The athletes started on the bike in 2018's opening event, Crit: 10 laps for time on an approximately 21-lb. aluminum Trek bike.
The time trial from the day prior named Adrian Mundwiler and Laura Horvath the top-seeded athletes in the event—a prediction which proved accurate, as Mundwiler won the event and Horvath placed second just behind known endurance junkie Kristin Holte. Last year, Holte won the cycling event, Cyclocross, on Day 1.
Mundwiler hung around the lead pack for the entire race but did not break away until the final laps.
“We tried to keep the field fast,” Mundwiler said. “We hung together until lap seven—at that point, it was time to break apart.”
Surprise. Surprise. He hails from Switzerland, rides eight hours a week and now owns the win in the men’s Crit. @adrianmundwiler takes the top spot with a time of 18:32. #CrossFitGames 📷 @doooker • @zevia
Holte took the opposite approach, hanging back for much of the race.
“I wanted to save most of my energy for the last two rounds,” Holte said. “I knew someone would try to go fast in the end, and I was able to keep up with them until the last turn, and then I sprinted as hard as I could.”
Fittest Man on Earth Mat Fraser placed fourth in the event, but several notable athletes—including Scott Panchik and Patrick Vellner, who finished 36th and 34th, respectively—have a lot of ground to make up.
Fittest Woman on Earth Tia-Clair Toomey rounded out the top five for the women in the Event 1, followed closely by Annie Thorisdottir and Cassidy Lance-McWherter.
In an event commonly riddled with spills, Patrick Vellner, Noah Ohlsen, Stephanie Chung and Michele Fumagalli, unfortunately, were not immune to the Crit curse. Vellner, Ohlsen and Chung rallied and returned for Event 2, but Fumagalli is out for the remainder of the competition due to an injury.
EVENT 2: 30 MUSCLE-UPS
The second event of the day was 30 muscle-ups for time. Toomey held on to the rings for 20 reps, but her finish time came up just short of Kristi Eramo, who completed all 30 in 2:32.52.
Eramo won the event, claiming her first-ever CrossFit Games event win.
“I love muscle-ups,” Eramo said afterward.
In Men's Heat 1, Logan Collins, Cody Anderson and Zeke Grove tried to go unbroken but came up just short. Anderson got through 28 reps before he failed a rep, and Collins crossed the finish line in 1:46—a time that would stand as the best in the event. Grove finished just behind Collins, and Heat 2's Mat Fraser rounded out the top three.
“I just tried to put the pedal down and hang on,” Fraser said.
EVENT 3: CROSSFIT TOTAL
Third up for the athletes was the CrossFit Total: a 1-rep-max back squat, shoulder press and deadlift.
In Heat 2, heavy hitter Whitney Gelin nailed a 405-lb. deadlift while rookie Ehea Schuerch lifted 330 lb. in the back squat. Known for her raw strength, Alessandra Pichelli held the lead after Heat 2 with an 860-lb. total.
But then it was time for Heat 3.
Toomey surprisingly failed her first back-squat attempt at 325 lb. but subsequently loaded the bar with 330 lb. and nailed it. Saunders matched Toomey’s back squat and Pearce shined in the shoulder press, lifting 155 lb. with ease.
Toomey and Wells lifted 415 lb. in the deadlift, and rookie Horvath wasn’t far behind with a successful 405-lb. deadlift.
“I’m very happy with my shoulder press and my deadlift,” Toomey said after the event. The back squat didn’t go as planned, she added.
Still, Toomey took the event win with a total of 875 lb., followed closely by Wells with 870 lb.
In Men’s Heat 2 of 3 in the CrossFit Total, Scott Panchik pulled off a back squat with a 440-lb. barbell that he made look like a PVC pipe as he stood up with ease. His second lift, at 470 lb., was good, and his final lift at 500-lb. would hold as the heaviest back squat of the day.
Heat 3 saw several back squats nearing 500 lb., shoulder presses upward of 215 lb. and plenty of deadlifts over 500 lb. But the crowd pleaser of the day was Patrick Vellner, who lifted 595 lb. off the floor.
Vellner knew he had to make up some points on this event, after a disappointing 35th-place finish in Crit. He took 36th in last year’s opening event and recognizes this pattern is a problem.
“It’s a long weekend, and I know that. You gotta dust yourself off,” Vellner said. “I gotta stop making a habit of that. It’s pretty bad.”
Fraser holds the overall lead after three events.
EVENT 4: MARATHON ROW
Presumably exhausted from the day’s events, the athletes still had one large—and long—challenge to take on: Marathon Row.
Athletes filled the Coliseum toting black baskets full of provisions like water, nutritional gels, grapes, electrolytes, and for Davidsdottir, Vaseline and gum.
Under the contraint of a four-hour time cap, the individual athletes mounted their Concept2 Rowers and started to pull. They’d continue to collectively pull for the next few hours until Lukas Esslinger and Margaux Alvarez separated from the herd and emerged as the winners, finishing in 2:43:50 and 3:00.42, respectively.
“I’ve done a full marathon row … so I had an idea of what it felt like,” Alvarez said.
The rest of Alvarez’s night and tomorrow’s rest day will include a lot of eating, rest and body work, she added.
Esslinger is looking forward to a lot of massages for his recovery after putting in an impressive effort.
“I started to get into the flow at a 1:56 pace, and it felt good, so I just kept it all the way through,” Esslinger said after the event.
At the end of Day 1, Mat Fraser and Laura Horvath sit atop the individual leaderboard. Thursday brings a welcomed rest day for the individuals and teams, but masters and teen competitions will be underway at 8:25 a.m. The individuals and teams return Friday morning for three more full days of events in the hunt to find the Fittest on Earth.
Check out the full Leaderboard for standings in all divisions.