April 10, 2013
The Open Experience
By Lauryn Lax

Another year of the CrossFit Games Open has come and gone. How did you do?

Photo by: Luis Valdes


Photo by: Phillip C. Chang


Photo by: Roham Asgari


Photo by: Wesley Costa

Landscape photo by: Roham Asgari

Another year of the CrossFit Games Open has come and gone.

The nearly 138,000 athletes who participated in the Open can now say they took part in the Games experience. While only a small fraction of competitors advance to Regionals, and even a smaller percentage move on to the Games, everyone who signed up for the Open had a chance at a piece of the action.

How did you do?

So what if you didn’t place within the top 48 on your region’s Leaderboard or if your name is not Rich Froning? During competition, we learn more about our abilities and capacities than when we just show up for the daily workout.

We spoke to some of the athletes who just missed out on qualifying as individuals for the South East Regional. They share their reflections on the past five weeks. While it may seem that all of their hard work was for naught since they won’t be advancing to the next round, the reality is quite the opposite.

“(Workout) 13.3 was a high for me this year,” Nick Capo, 34, of South Florida CrossFit, says. “Last year on 12.4, I finished my double-unders as time expired. This year, I got 16 muscle-ups.”

After just CrossFitting for two months, Capo decided to sign up for last year’s Open and ended up placing 481st in the South East. This year, he could tell he improved dramatically finishing 69th in the region. Close to making the top 48 among the individual men, Capo says this year’s Open has inspired him to work on his weaknesses in order to come back stronger next year.

“It’s a similar process to what I experienced back in college with the decathlon. I was terrible at pole vaulting, so I had to work on it constantly,” he says. “I am familiar with facing my weaknesses head-on and also fears … It’s a challenge I enjoy.”

Looking forward to the next year of training, Capo says he plans to add in another workout on top of his morning routine at least two to three days per week in order to make the cut next year.

In her third year of CrossFitting and second year competing in the Open, Tiffany Richardson, 29, says workout 13.3 was a success for her after achieving her first muscle-up.

“I was not ready for 13.3 knowing that I was so close to getting my muscle-up, but had not yet gotten one,” she says. “I did the workout on Thursday and got through the double-unders, but still could not get the muscle-up. Then on Friday, I went into the gym and my brother helped me break down the muscle-up, starting from scratch. We worked for about an hour on the pull, the catch and the dip. On my first attempt, I got one! It was so exciting. My high was getting one muscle-up in the workout on that Sunday.”

Since placing in the 300s during her first Open last year, Richardson jumped to 61st this year — something she did not expect, and something she is celebrating.

“I was surprised that all that training I did this year put me up there with the girls I looked up to at Regionals last year. I never thought that I would ever see my name beside some of them,” Richardson says.

Richardson follows Ben Bergeron’s Competitors WOD blog at CrossFit Mobile, and plans to continue to do so through the remainder of this year. She says she has come a long way.

“Thinking back to when I first started and how hard it was to do a band pull-up or how heavy just the bar felt,” she remembers. “My first Fran was 9:55. I now have a 180-lb. clean and a 3:33 Fran. It’s amazing how CrossFit has changed my life.”

Sergio Alcântara, 36, of CrossFit Coconut Grove also competed for his second year in the Open.

Last year, he finished in 60th place, solidifying the last spot as an individual at the South East Regional. This year, while he finished 54th, he will not be competing as an individual at Regionals due to the new qualifying cutoff of 48. Instead, Alcântara will have the opportunity to compete with his team, I AM Grove, which finished fourth in the Open. Alcântara is anything but discouraged.

“I was very happy with my performance, and I did the best that I could,” he says. “The Open this year taught me that you have to be patient and everything will come at the right time. You need to work hard and surely you will be rewarded in a way.”

Reflecting back, he says he’s achieved a lot on his personal progress over the past five years.

“My first WOD was 135-lb. Fran. I didn't know the weight was 95 lb., and it took me 12 minutes. After I finished, I asked my friend, ‘How is it possible to do a Fran around 2:30?’”

Today, Alcântara can finish Fran in 2:35, and he scored 173 reps on workout 13.5. He says he’s enjoying the process.

“Don't be paralyzed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself,” he says.

Ian Daniel, 22, from CrossFit Ragnarok, says he pushed himself this year in his second Open more than ever before.

Daniel also qualified for Regionals last year as an individual — after only CrossFitting for three weeks at the time. He chose to compete on a team knowing he had many weaknesses to improve.

This year, after a full year spent working on those skills and his lifting techniques, he entered the Open ready to make a showing as an individual at Regionals only to finish 62nd.

While it may be easy to feel like a failure, Daniel says he knew he overcame several barriers that were standing in his way.

“I came into the Open this year after rehabbing a sprained back and inflamed sacroiliac joint I sustained during a local competition,” he says. “I knew this year the competition would be exponentially greater, and this was the absolute worst time for an injury to happen. I had only had about five half-ass training sessions in the two months leading up to the Open, and 13.1 and 13.2 were my worst events ... But I wasn’t going to back down.”

A few weeks into the Open, Daniel says he started getting his groove back.

“I was feeling like my old conditioned self again. I did incredibly well for myself on 13.3, hitting a 5:45 Karen (a 1:45 PR from last year) and 262 total reps (11 more than last year),” Daniel says. “And 13.5 was money for me again. I have right around a two-minute Fran and usually don’t do thrusters less than 135-155 lb. I will admit I puked my guts out after making the third time cap and hitting 217 reps.”

In order to ensure he makes it back to Regionals next year, Daniel says, “I intend on competing and making podium in the majority of the private competitions held in Florida. I also intend on making my met-con unstoppable, my gymnastics flawless, and back squatting 500, as well as snatching 300, and cleaning around 385. You think I’m kidding …”

In her first time competing in the Open after a full year spent CrossFitting, Sara Kendrick, 23, says she is also on a mission to make it to Regionals as an individual next year. Finishing in 71st place, she says she feels accomplished for her first go at the Open. One year ago, she never even thought she would be competing today, yet ranked within the top 100 fittest women in the South East. 

“I was 30 pounds overweight and didn’t care what I ate,” she says. “A trainer I was working with suggested I go check out CrossFit, and now, a year later, here I am competing with myself and pushing myself to do things I never thought I could do.”

One of Kendrick’s first CrossFit workouts was last year’s 12.4 at CrossFit Pure during the time when many of its members were competing in the Open.

“I finished the wall balls with one minute left and couldn’t do double-unders. I never thought I would be (doing this workout as prescribed) and competing a year later and getting through four muscle-ups. I learned that I tend to underestimate my ability,” Kendrick says.

The middle school teacher and current graduate student, says she’s been solely focused on improving herself this past year with two-a-day workouts and a clean diet. During the Open, she realized her game plan was working and also discovered she was pretty strong.

“When I started CrossFit, I couldn’t do a pull-up or clean half my body weight,” she says. “Now, in 13.5, I completed chest to bar pull-ups, and I also recently PR’d on my squat clean.”

The best part of the Open?

“I have gained an amazing community of friends that encourage and push one another both in my box and around the world,” Kendrick says.

While Kendrick will not be competing as an individual this year, she qualified to compete on CrossFit Pure’s team at the South East Regional.

Jessica Rodriguez, who finished in 65th place, will also be competing at Regionals on her affiliate’s team, CrossFit Miami Beach.

Going into this year’s Open, Rodriguez says she was not expecting great things.

“I got married in late January and was gone on my honeymoon until mid- February,” she says. “I got back and was extremely out of shape.”

Rodriguez was hit with the reality of her greatest weakness over the course of the five weeks.

“My endurance has always been my biggest weakness. I have the worst work capacity ever,” she says.

Rodriguez did not lose hope in her ability to perform, though. She had been working hard on her Olympic lifts in particular this past year, which proved to be one of her strengths.

“I'm better at the higher-skilled gymnastics movements and heavy weights,” she says. “My technique on my lifts has improved so much. For instance, I found workouts like 13.1 to be a little easier than last year’s snatch workout. I actually have both workouts on video, and looking back to last year’s video compared to this year’s made me cringe to see what my snatch used to look like.”

Regardless of how she placed in the Open, Rodriguez says the greatest thing that has come out of CrossFit over the past three years is a complete life change.

“I came from an unmotivated paralegal world, into a world where there are no limits to what you can accomplish,” she says. “I found a community, encouragement, a new job as a coach, and a goal to work towards as an athlete.”

So now the questions are posed to you. What was your Open experience like? Post thoughts to comments.