October 23, 2020
2020 CrossFit Games Finals: Day 1
By Nicole Peyton
Highlights of Day 1 of the 2020 CrossFit Games Finals.
Highlights of Day 1 of the 2020 CrossFit Games Finals.

The 2020 Reebok CrossFit Games Finals kicked off this morning at 8 a.m. PT, at the historic Ranch in Aromas, California. There were five events — four of which were known, and one of which was still unknown — in store for the top five men and top five women who had emerged from Stage 1 of the Games to earn their spot in the Finals.

2007 Reload 

An ode to the nostalgic Ranch — the first location of the CrossFit Games in 2007 — Event 1 was aptly named 2007 Reload: a 1,500-m row followed by 5 rounds of 10 bar muscle-ups and 7 shoulder-to-overheads (145/235 lb.), for time. The workout is a beefed-up rendition of a 2007 Games event, which consisted of a 1,000-m row followed by 5 rounds of 25 pull-ups and 7 push jerks (135/85 lb.)

The men went first. With no music and no crowd, the athletes’ labored breathing was discernible on the live feed. 

The first man off the rower was seven-time Games athlete Noah Ohlsen, but only by half a second, as he was followed closely by the rest of the field. Ohlsen and reigning four-time Games champion Mat Fraser were neck and neck at the barbell on Round 1, but Fraser would separate himself quickly with unbroken muscle-ups and push jerks to follow. 

Games rookie Justin Medeiros surprised fans with an impressive performance, holding pace with Fraser for much of the event. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One minute before the start of the men’s heat of Event 1, Dave makes a small announcement. “There’s not going to be any music, so don’t be expecting it.” When the clock beeps, the first event of the 2020 @crossfitgames commences in near silence. The only sounds are of rowers, traffic from the 101, and the occasional click of cameras. By round 2, @mathewfras 🇺🇸 seems to be in full command of this event. He’s cycling 235# so cleanly he appears to be lifting a lighter barbell. The pace and the load finally catch up with him in the last round, where he abruptly fails a rep. It’s a small opening for @justin_medeiros34 🇺🇸, who is only a few jerks behind, but Mat polishes off his final rep and crosses the finish line 7 seconds ahead. Mat’s win is notable, but Justin’s performance might be even more compelling. In his first Games event, this rookie hung with the reigning fittest man in Earth. ✍🏽: @christinedca 📷: @flsportsguy

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In unusual fashion, Fraser failed his final shoulder-to-overhead, opening the door for Medeiros to close the gap a bit. Fraser took the event win, and Medeiros finished next, just 8 seconds behind Fraser, with a time of 13:15.16. 

 

In an eerie coincidence, Fraser’s winning time of 13:07 exactly matched Brett Marshall’s time when he won the 2007 hopper event at the inaugural CrossFit Games. 

Reporter Nicole Brazier caught up with Fraser after his win and asked him how competing without music or a crowd might affect his performance.

“I love it … I don’t like training with music,” Fraser said. “I like to hear my breathing, be in my own thoughts, and just focus on the task at hand.”

Mat Fraser
Mat Fraser during 2007 Reload

The women were up next. 

Nineteen-year-old Haley Adams was first off the rower, looking left to right seemingly concerned she may have gone out too hot. But impressively, Adams held second place just behind Toomey for the entire event, eventually finishing just 30 seconds back of the defending champ with a time of 13:17.79. 

Haley Adams
Haley Adams during 2007 Reload

In another coincidental moment of Event 1, Toomey failed her last shoulder-to-overhead just like her training partner and fellow champion, Fraser. But the stumble didn’t faze Toomey, who locked up her 16th career event win with a time of 12:47.98.

Kari Pearce finished in third (13:59.51), and Brooke Wells and Katrin Davidsdottir found themselves in a head-to-head battle at the end as both women struggled to complete their final reps. Davidsdottir edged out Wells for fourth (15:16.76), as Wells failed a couple more jerks before eventually finishing in fifth (15:45.13).

When asked how the lack of music might affect her, Toomey echoed her training partner: “I’m just so focused on what I’ve gotta do that, really, the surroundings don’t (affect me) at all.” 

Tia-Clair Toomey
Tia-Clair Toomey during 2007 Reload

Corn Sack Sprint

Next up was Corn Sack Sprint: a 320-meter hill sprint with a corn sack weighing 30 lb. for the women and 50 lb. for the men. The event is reminiscent of a 2009 Games event, which comprised a 170-meter hill sprint with 35-lb. sandbags (2 for men, 1 for women). 

The men kicked things off, all five gripping their sandbags and running across the flat start to the daunting hill.

As the grade steepened, the men eventually slowed to a climb. Fraser, who started at the back of the pack, worked his way to the front (as Fraser does) and won the event with a time of 2:51.54. Samuel Kwant finished in second (3:07.90), and Noah Ohlsen came in third (3:18.24). 

 

 

Rookie Medeiros was steps ahead of Canadian Jeffrey Adler nearing the finish line, but Adler kicked it up just a notch just as Medeiros let off the gas to take fourth (3:20.87). Medeiros’ final time was 3:21.09.

 

 

The women took on the hill next. 

At a press conference on Thursday, two-time Games champion Davidsdottir shared her thoughts on the classic event that displays a pure test of functionality.

“(The Corn Sack Sprint) is one of those events where there’s nowhere to hide,” she said. “There’s no game-planning it, there’s no being smart, there’s no strategy. It truly is just who wants to get to the top first?”

As it turns out, Toomey wanted to get there first. The champ took an early lead while the rest of the field tried to keep pace. The women marched up the steep grade, shifting their corn sacks on their backs trying desperately to find a place of comfort, which seemed an impossible feat.

Tia-Clair Toomey
Tia-Clair Toomey during Corn Sack Sprint

Just behind Toomey was Davidsdottir in second with a time of 3:13.18. Haley Adams slipped and fumbled with her corn sack before crossing the finish line in third (3:24.49), followed by Kari Pearce in fourth (3:28.17) and Brooke Wells in fifth (3:35.02). 

 

 

Wells, who sat in fifth overall after two events, didn’t have the Day 1 start she was hoping for. 

“Not a good start, but it’s OK,” she said after Corn Sack Sprint. “Moving on.”

Lucky for Wells, strength is, well, a strength of hers and the CrossFit Total was up next. The athletes would head to Morgan Hill for their next couple events. 

CrossFit Total

Athletes landed at the Morgan Hill Sports Complex for the next two events of the day. First up: A classic CrossFit benchmark — and another repeat of the 2007 and 2018 Games events — the CrossFit Total. The third workout of the day challenged athletes to a 1-rep-max back squat, followed by a 1-rep-max shoulder press and a 1-rep-max deadlift — in the beautiful California sunshine. 

The men’s field got set for the event that would allow them three attempts apiece at three lifts, with a three-minute rest between lifts

Two-time CrossFit Games athlete and Canadian representative Adler put on an impressive display of strength, logging a 1,244-lb. total across the three lifts. Adler — who hit PRs on each lift during the event — bested champion Mat Fraser in the event by 7 lb.

“I did my best, I think,” Adler said after the event. 

“My body just lifts what I ask it to do … and I can do it with no belt,” he added proudly, lifting his shirt to reveal the chiseled abs of a clearly strong midline. 

 

 

When the women took the floor, commentators Chase Ingraham and Bill Grundler made the distinction between two races: one between Toomey and Wells, who had only a 5-lb. difference between their totals at the 2018 Games, and another between Davidsdottir, Adams, and Pearce. 

Highlights of the women’s performances included Pearce’s 157-lb. strict press, which bested her 2018 lift by 2 lb. and extended her record for heaviest strict press recorded at the Games by any woman; Brooke Wells’ 432-lb. deadlift that almost didn’t happen; and Toomey doing what Toomey does, besting second-placed Wells by 6 lb. and winning her third consecutive event today.   

On the Thursday before competition, Adams addressed the belief that strength wasn’t her strong suit.

“I didn’t have much brute strength (when I started CrossFit),” Adams said. “I’ve had to work so, so hard just to build what I have … but I’ve come so far with it and I know that I can keep building it and keep working on it with the right people around me … . I know that I’m the strongest and fittest that I’ve ever been.”

Adams proved it when she deadlifted 327 lb. to overtake Davidsdottir in the overall event standings. 

Handstand Sprint

The fourth event of the day challenged athletes to a 100-yard sprint — on their hands. This was a blink-and-you-miss-it event, as athletes inverted their bodies and quickly traversed down the field with feet dangling overhead. 

On the men’s side, Mat Fraser took the win with a blistering time of 1:20.85. He only broke once during the entire 100 yards, but just behind him (again) was rookie Medeiros, who utilized a much different technique, kicking down every 5 yards or so to keep his shoulders fresh. Despite what might seem like a slower strategy, Medeiros kept pace with Fraser, finishing less than 6 seconds behind him (1:26.19) for second place. 

In the women’s field, Brooke Wells is an athlete who is more than proficient on her hands. She came out with a bang on Handstand Sprint, leaving the rest of the field to fight for the other four places as she finished in 1:21.22. Former gymnast Pearce was just behind her (1:23.32), followed closely by Adams in third (1:24.25). 

“Definitely needed that after having not such a great start,” Wells said of her win. 

Surprisingly, Davidsdottir, who is very good on her hands, finished in fourth with a time of 1:40, and overall leader Toomey rounded out the top five with a time of 2:05.67, her only finish that isn’t first today — so far. There’s still one test left today and we’ll head back to the Ranch for the final event of Day 1. 

Brooke Wells
Brooke Wells during Handstand Sprint

Ranch Loop

“If your mental game is tight, you’re gonna do well.”

Those were the wise words from Demo Team member Chandler Smith as he discussed the trail run event with reporter Nicole Brazier. 

In one big heat of men and women, athletes took on the treacherous Ranch Loop for the final event of Day 1. The approximately 3-mile loop reaches 770 feet of elevation at its highest point, and a quad-burning 55% grade at its steepest. 

Fraser and Medeiros led the field. Fraser was the first to cross the finish line (or at least what they thought was the finish) after a sprint against Medeiros, who followed close behind. 

But Director of Sport Dave Castro was waiting to be the bearer of bad news as he informed each athlete that they had to turn around and do the whole course in reverse, doubling the length of the event, and tapping into the mental strength of the athletes.

Some begrudgingly, some in stride, athletes turned around to tackle the back half of the event. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Fraser and Medeiros stuck together for a while, but Fraser pulled away at the end to take first (57:47.45), with Medeiros locking up second (58:17.48). Ohlsen finished third with a time of 59:11, while Adler and Kwant took the fourth and fifth spots with times of 1:00:17.95, and 1:10:11.27, respectively. 

Davidsdottir earned the win for the women with a time of 1:00:53.98. Adams finished in second with a time of 1:02:16.23, and Toomey — who was in the lead at the finish turned halfway point — rounded out the top three finishing the brutal event in 1:06:09.1. Pearce and Wells rounded out the top five with times of 1:07:07.07, and 1:14:34.89, respectively.  

Standings at the end of Day 1

Men

  1. Mat Fraser (475 pts.)
  2. Justin Medeiros (255 pts.)
  3. Noah Ohlsen (235 pts.) 
  4. Jeffrey Adler (220 pts.)
  5. Samuel Kwant (215 pts.)

Women

  1. Tia-Clair Toomey (370 pts.)
  2. Haley Adams (295 pts.)
  3. Katrin Davidsdottir (260 pts.)
  4. Kari Pearce (255 pts.)
  5. Brooke Wells (220 pts.)

Day 2 kicks off tomorrow at 10 a.m. PT, with a two-hour CBS Network Broadcast plus live streams on games.crossfit.com, YouTube, Pluto TV, and Facebook

Events

Leaderboard

How to Watch