“It’s cougar country,” one coach said while walking through the Masters warm-up area, and indeed spectators were demanding birth certificates from competitors who neither look nor perform like they’re “over the hill.”
CrossFit focuses on performance, but there’s no denying the Masters athletes are physical specimens. The 10 Masters divisions contain beasts who barely missed qualifying for the main event at the Games, older competitors who qualified for Regionals, and Gandalf-esque athletes who regularly surprise younger members at affiliates with outstanding times and loads. They perform at a high level, and they look the part, forgoing the traditional beer bellies of middle age for rippling traps, abs, hamstrings and quads.
Grandparents with functional muscle and impressive work capacity are proof that hard training allows you to tell Father Time to get lost, and calendars were most definitely ignored in the second Masters event of the day: Push Drag Pull, a chipper comprising handstand push-ups, a sled drag and pull-ups.
While athletes in five divisions did handstand push-ups to a pad and reduced the reps, three men’s divisions and two women’s did full-range HSPU for 30 reps.
For Gabriele Schlicht, it wasn’t the handstand push-ups that were the issue.
“Awful. Simply awful,” she said of the sled drag. “It was very darn hard to pull.”
Nonetheless, the 55-year-old pulled off a come-from-behind finish to take second in her 55-59 heat, as well as second overall.
“I knew it wasn’t my strength,” Schlicht said of the sled drag.
Her strategy was to pull ahead in the handstand push-ups and in the pull-ups.
“I kind of feel good about how I caught up,” she said. “I’m very, very happy. I think I got the worst one out of the way.”
In the next-youngest division—50-54—former rugby player Colleen Fahey had a plan: go as hard as possible. It worked. Not only did she finish first in her heat but also in her division with a time of 5:20.4. The time would have been good enough for first in the 45-49 Division, too.
Originally, the 50-year-old had planned to break up the handstand push-ups. Then she changed her mind.
“They just came easy, easy,” Fahey said.
And the sled was no sweat.
“With my rugby background, I knew the sled would be easy,” she said. “The pull-ups were a little harder than I thought. I kept thinking, ‘Oh, they’re gonna get me.’”
But they didn’t.
“I just feel great,” she added.
In the final heat of the 40-44 Division, Jolaine Bloom gave leaders Amanda Allen and Becky Conzelman—both former individual Games competitors—a run for their money.
Being only 5-foot-1 and a former gymnast, the 41-year-old had a “big advantage” in the handstand push-ups. The sled, however, was “rough.” For every time it slid smoothly across the grass, it also got stuck, she said.
“Suck it up and get through the pain.”
Back in Boulder, Colo., Steve Parsoneault drills holes through 95-lb. atlas stones, strings chains through them and then drags them through the dirt. Leave it up to an engineer.
It proved effective as the 51-year-old won his heat in the 50-54 Division.
“CrossFit is about adding as much variety as I can,” Parsoneault said.
He said his plan for the day’s second event was easy: “Just get the handstand push-ups unbroken.”
The sled was the only wild card, said Parsoneault, still breathing heavily several minutes after he finished the event.
“It’s a gasser, man.”
But for Keith Chrisman, who posted the best time in the 40-44 Division, the sled was his strength.
“I knew my handstand push-ups and pull-ups weren’t quick,” he said. “So I knew my only chance was pulling that sled.”
Chrisman added: “I wasn’t trying to go fast, I was just trying to keep moving.”
Like Parsoneault, Jim Lanier also did his handstand push-ups unbroken. Except he did them in the 60-Plus Division.
“It’s a pretty evenly matched group,” he said. “There are some studs, (but) the studs seem to be like that year after year.”
Event winner: Sharon Lapkoff (4:41.9)
Overall leader: Sharon Lapkoff
Event winner: Lisa Long (5:36.7)
Overall leader: Lisa Long and Gabriele Schlicht (tie)
Event winner: Colleen Fahey (5:20.4)
Overall leader: Colleen Fahey
Event winner: Amy Mandelbaum (5:37.0)
Overall leader: Lisa Mikkelsen
Event winner: Amanda Allen (3:43.1)
Overall leader: Amanda Allen
Event winner: Scott Olson (4:16.8)
Overall leader: Scott Olson
Event winner: Greg Budde (7:20.8)
Overall leader: Hilmar Hardarson
Event winner: Steve Parsoneault (5:34.3)
Overall leader: Steve Parsoneault
Event winner: Matt Beals (5:30.7)
Overall leader: Cliff Lewis
Event winner: Keith Chrisman (5:18.7)
Overall leader: Michael Moseley
For complete standings and all scores from all divisions, visit the Leaderboard.