March 7, 2012
Catching the Fittest Masters
By Jane Holgate
An Icelandic fisherman and Welsh bricklayer lead the Masters 55-59 division.
An Icelandic fisherman and Welsh bricklayer lead the Masters 55-59 division.

Lugg and Hardarson --a Welsh bricklayer and Icelandic fisherman --lead the Masters 55-59 division.

Hilmar Hardarson

John Lugg

What do an Icelandic fisherman and Welsh bricklayer have in common?  

Over the last two weeks, they both reached the top of the CrossFit Games Masters 55-59 Leaderboard. Hilmar Hardarson won Open Workout 12.1 with 113 burpees and John Lugg holds the 1st place position overall after Week 2, with 2nd place on 12.1 (112 burpees) and 8th on 12.2 (101 snatches).

Hardarson, 55, of Kopavogur, Iceland, spends his days fishing on the rugged, cold northern coastline. When Leifur Geir Hafsteinsson, his coach at CrossFit Sport, first met Hardarson, he was convinced he’d found a former gymnast. He was wrong. Outside of the toil of fishing, Hardarson never played sports and, for many years, was overweight. Ten years ago, when he weighed 220 pounds, Hardarson decided he needed to lose weight. He did it the hard way. Each morning, he took off on his boat without any food. In time, Hardarson lost 66 pounds and became active in hiking, running, mountain climbing, CrossFitting, and biking.

Hardarson has been training at CrossFit Sport since 2008, and often completes seven sessions in a week. When he’s not CrossFitting, he runs in the mountains or joins a spin class. Consequently, Hardarson is best at bodyweight movements and endurance. 

John Lugg, 56, of South Wales used to play rugby for Llanelli, a professional rugby football club from the U.K., in the 1970s. He remains active in competitive sport, including county athletics, cycling, and 100 and 200 meter sprint swimming.

Lugg is still new to the sport, with less than a year of training at Dragon CrossFit behind him. When he’s not in the box, Lugg practices his technique on the Olympic lifts in his garage gym.

One thing is clear – Lugg is competitive. He was so unsatisfied with 2nd place on 12.1, finishing one rep behind Hardarson, that after the workout had closed he tried the workout again and added 10 reps for a score of 122.  

Like Hardarson, Lugg feels most comfortable with bodyweight movements and endurance exercises. Lugg holds rowing times much younger men would be proud of, including 500 meters in 1.25.3 and 2K in 6.45.

Watch out, the Europeans are coming.