August 3, 2018
Better Late Than Never
By Brittney Saline
Aegidius and Root on last-minute Games qualification.
Aegidius and Root on last-minute Games qualification.

“Shit. Not again.”

Frederik Aegidius had just finished sixth at the 2018 Europe Regional, missing Games qualification by one spot. It was his fourth near miss in almost as many seasons, and the feeling was getting old.

“I had about a week where I was pretty down, missing out by such a narrow margin for, what would that be—the fourth or fifth time?” he said.

He took some time to clear his head. Less squatting and snatching; more bench and bicep curls. Then he shook it off and focused on helping his girlfriend, Annie Thorisdottir, prepare for her ninth CrossFit Games appearance.

“Annie is my training partner and we do everything together, so I continued to train hard with her,” he said. “I didn’t want to show up here even to spectate and be out of shape.”

One week after Aegidius left the Velodrome with neither medal nor belt, Meredith Root took sixth in the West. Though she too had missed Madison by a single spot, it was the best of her three Regional performances to date. She took a week off to celebrate with surf and sun in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“You have to decide kind of what your end-all, be-all goal is, and if (you think), ‘I’m only gonna be happy if I make the Games,’ you need to stop,” she said. “I don't do CrossFit to make the Games. I do CrossFit because I love it and I like getting better.”

The summer drawled on. Root transitioned to offseason training, focusing on accessory work and low-intensity conditioning. Aegidius joined Thorisdottir—along with Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson and Oddrun Eik Gylfadottir—at a pre-Games training camp in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin.

Less than three weeks before the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games, the emails arrived.

Would-be Games rookie Andrey Ganin and veteran Emily Abbott had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and been disqualified from the competition. Aegidius and Root were going to Madison.

“I was obviously super excited,” Aegidius said on Friday after finishing The Battleground—a rescue-run, obstacle-course race mash-up—in 9:51.26 for 15th place.

Frederik Aegidius during The Battleground

Root had been mourning the end of her 20s when her phone pinged with the news on July 15, brightening her mood considerably.

“It was probably the best birthday I’ve had ever,” she said.

Though the pair had little more than two weeks to prepare for what their fellow competitors had been training for all summer, neither was rattled. Each focused only on what he or she could control.

For Aegidius, that meant his mental game.

“Two weeks leading up to a competition you're not gonna increase your fitness; on the other hand, you might actually hurt your fitness if you go too hard,” he said. “So it was more just getting my mind straight, knowing that I had to go in and compete against all these dudes and take a lot of middle-of-the-pack finishes and be OK with my capacity being where it is.”

“No panicking,” Root agreed. She spent the two weeks before the Games practicing odd-object movements and ramping the intensity back up.

Meredith Root during The Battleground

“There's gonna be events that I'm good at because I'm small, and there's gonna be events that I'm bad at because I'm small, and having more time to train isn't gonna make me better at those events."

And while the pair may have had less time to prepare than the rest of the field, neither athlete feels at a disadvantage, they said. It makes little difference when facing the unknown and unknowable.

Meredith Root during The Battleground

“I'm just honestly really happy to be here,” Aegidius said.

“I'm not taking any part of it for granted. That's for sure,” Root agreed.