THE JEFFREY ADLER SERIES
Jeffrey Adler was having one of the best seasons of his career leading up to the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games. But the goal never changed: Claim a spot on the podium.
His tactic was to just take one test at a time, solely focusing on the task at hand. Once a test was done, he would forget about it and move on to the next.
“I don't care (about) the previous one. And I don't care about the next one,” Adler said.
Day 1 of the 2023 Games started a bit rocky when Adler took a 25th-place finish in Test 2 and a 15th-place finish in Test 3. But he brushed himself off and began to climb his way back up the leaderboard, reaching second place by the end of Day 2. He took his first test win of the weekend in Test 6 — Helena, becoming the only man to finish in under 8 minutes.
“You guys are surprised I can run, huh?” Adler joked to the crowd in an interview with Niki Brazier.
Jeffrey Adler after winning Individual Test 6 | Photo by Adam Bow
But it wasn’t until Saturday night under the Coliseum lights that the thought of actually winning the title of Fittest on Earth popped into his mind. Adler had just taken fourth place in the Olympic Total, shaving 46 more points off leader Roman Khrennikov’s 59-point lead.
Moments the men exited the floor, Individual Test 10 — Muscle-up Logs — was announced. Without any doubt, Adler knew he would win.
“(When) they announced the workout, it got me really excited. And I was like, “Tomorrow morning, I'm getting the leader's jersey,” Adler said.
Sure enough, he took the win and was awarded the first leader’s jersey of his career. With just two tests to go, it may have felt like he had already won the CrossFit Games, but Adler tried to expel that thought from his mind.
It’s never over until it’s over.
“The thing is, once you get (the leader’s jersey), you can lose it. And that's what's heavy about it — I didn't want to give it back,” Adler said. “If you keep the leader’s jersey, then it means you win the CrossFit Games, and that's a lot of weight.”
Jeffrey Adler during Individual Test 11 | Photo by @wongsdottir
When Adler took the floor for Test 11, he learned that Khrennikov, who was the biggest threat to his new lead, had injured his foot. Although that widened the gap, Lambray’s and Adler’s first reaction was concern for Khrennikov. It was also a sobering reminder that anything could happen during the next two tests.
Adler’s lead wasn’t guaranteed.
“I was like, ‘(Adler) still needs to get through these two events and be healthy,’” Lambray said.
Adler took seventh place in Test 11, Parallel-bar Pull, holding tight to his lead heading into the final test.
Echo Thruster Final was a leg-burning sprint to the finish: a 21-15-9 rep scheme of Echo bike calories and ascending-weight thrusters followed by a 66-foot overhead lunge to the end zone.
The top 10 men on the leaderboard were placed in the last heat, and one by one, each athlete’s name boomed across the Coliseum as they tore through the tunnel and lined up on their starting mats. The leader’s name was called last as Adler ran into the roaring crowd, settling into Lane 5.
Just after the 6-minute mark, Adler grasped his barbell and began to lunge down the floor, 155 lb held overhead. At a sprint pace, Adler inched closer to the title of Fittest on Earth with each step, crossing the finish line in fifth.
Jeffrey Adler during Individual Test 12 | Photo by Adam Bow
Adler seemed to be in disbelief. There was no smile on his face as he patiently stood in the end zone, waiting for his competitors to finish and hugging his fellow Canadians Brent Fikowski and Pat Vellner after they crossed. Meanwhile, Lambray attempted to tally the scores on the big screen, wondering if the title was truly Adler’s.
But when Adler was handed the Canadian flag, it was confirmed.
He wrapped the red-and-white fabric around his shoulders like a cape. In the crowd, Lambray was in tears, the weight of the last seven years lifting off her shoulders.
“There's one picture where you can see my face … I don't know what emotion that is. And that is basically how I was feeling. There's just so much going on of just relief and joy… . So it was just very emotional. And then it was just kind of empty. I was just so drained,” Lambray said.
Caroline Lambray | Photo by Wendy Nielsen
When the rest of the field had finished the finale, Adler promptly walked over to Khrennikov — who was still on the bike nursing his injured foot — and gave him a hug before embracing his fiancee and parents.
There was still no smile on his face.
It wasn’t until General Manager of Sport Dave Castro raised the microphone and announced, “To the fittest fans on Earth, I give you your fittest man alive: Jeff Adler,” that he began to grin, repeatedly mouthing “Thank you” to the crowd.
He credited his win to his fiancee and coach, Lambray.
“That’s why I’m here. She’s the one that found me, trusted that we could work hard through the years, and make it,” Adler said. “Her dream (came) true today. And I am so happy for her. She worked as hard as me.”
Adler and Lambray | Photo by Tai Randall
A Year of Firsts
For the first time since 2009, a non-American holds the title of Fittest Man on Earth. This is the first year a Canadian has stood atop the men’s podium since the inception of the CrossFit Games in 2007.
Of the 12,856 total CrossFit affiliates worldwide, 396 are based in Canada. This year, 50% of the individual podium athletes were Canadian.
“I think that's the cool part about having so much representation of Canada on the podium; (it shows) we have good athletes,” Adler said. “Hopefully, it brings a fresh wave of people that put their eyes on CrossFit,” Adler said.
As for the mastermind behind Adler’s success, Lambray has become the first female to coach an athlete to Fittest on Earth and is on her way to becoming one of the first CrossFit Level 4 coaches in Canada.
Adler and Lambray on the podium | Photo by Wendy Nielsen
Looking Ahead to 2024
Lambray’s 2024 season prep started long before Adler had the gold medal wrapped around his neck.
Throughout the Games, Lambray took notes — and lessons — from Adler’s mistakes as well as those of his competitors, planning new training tactics for the next season.
The pair took a one-week vacation and immediately started to ramp up training again, preparing for the 2023 Rogue Invitational in October.
“I hope to get back PB&J at Wodapalooza,” Adler said referencing the team he created with Fikowski and Vellner at last year’s Wodapalooza. “I haven't asked the boys yet, but I think they're gonna be pretty down to do it. So we might bring that back. And then next season, we're going to change our (goal) from ‘We want to get better.'”
The new goal: Win the CrossFit Games twice.
Header photo by Meg Ellery