Who is the fittest? How do you know? Since 2007, the CrossFit Games have evolved to answer these questions. Each year the Games are a more comprehensive test of fitness, and the athletes raise the level of competition to unprecedented heights. The average regional athlete in 2017 will be dramatically more capable than the worlds best in 2007.
Several unique characteristics define the CrossFit Games. The Games change every year and oftentimes, the details are not announced until right before each event. Athletes train year-round for a competition that is almost completely a mystery. When they reach the Games, they put their training and mental fortitude to the test and take on a rigorous, broad-ranging test of overall physical capacity. At the close of competition, the Fittest on Earth™will have clearly distinguished themselves.
THE 2016 REEBOK CROSSFIT GAMES: 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
2016 marked the 10-year anniversary of the CrossFit Games. The evolution of the sport is undeniable when the present is compared to the past.
In 2007, the inaugural Games kicked off at Director of the CrossFit Games Dave Castro’s family ranch in Aromas, California. Approximately 70 athletes came together for a grassroots throw down and a barbecue.
THE 2016 OPEN
In 2016, 324,000 athletes participated in the worldwide Open—the first stage of competition. From there, 260 athletes—40 men, 40 women and 30 teams of 6—moved on to eight Regional events where the top five in each category would earn an invitation to the Games.
The 2016 Open kicked off on Feb. 25, with the announcement of Open Workout 16.1 at NorCal CrossFit in Santa Clara, California. Canadian powerhouse Emily Abbott and fan favorite Chyna Cho were the first two athletes to take on the 25-minute AMRAP of overhead walking lunges, burpees and chest-to-bar pull-ups.
In 2016, the Open also took us to a garage gym in Candler, North Carolina, affiliates in Jacksonville, Florida and Colorado Springs, and back to the historic Ranch. In hindsight, the return to Aromas was perhaps a hint at events to come.
At the end of five weeks, Games veteran Noah Ohlsen and New Zealander Jamie Greene took the top spots in the all-inclusive competition.
THE 2016 REGIONALS
In the second year of a new Regional format, eight events spread over three weekends in May would decide who would go to the Games. Athletes from multiple regions competed for the very few qualifying spots. Those who were “Proven” at the end of their Regional weekend advanced to the ultimate proving grounds: the Games.
After eight hard-fought competitions that featured a squat snatch ladder, Regional version of the Hero workout Nate, handstand walking, heavy deadlifts and more, the best of the best earned themselves a spot at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, to compete for the title Fittest on Earth.
THE 2016 GAMES
While athletes and spectators have come to expect the Games to start in an off-site location, 2016 had a twist no one saw coming. The off-site events—which debuted in 2011 with athletes running into the ocean at the Santa Monica Pier—have become one of the most exciting aspects of the competition.
In 2016, athletes were told to pack a plane-ready bag and were hit with a very early-morning wake-up call. They were driven by bus to Los Angeles International Airport, where they boarded a flight destined for San Jose, California.
After 10 years, the fittest athletes in the world returned to the Ranch to pay homage to where it all started. They pulled up in the dust and heat of the legendary location and weren’t given much time to sight see. The Games had begun.
Reminiscent of the first event in 2009, athletes were greeted with a challenging 7-k trail run, which Castro made sure to emphasize would prove much more difficult this time around.
Event 2—Ranch Deadlift Ladder—was taken from the 2009 event list, as well, but in 2016 the bars were much heavier. In 2009 the men’s bars weighed from 315 lb. to 505 lb., and the women’s were 185 lb. to 375 lb. In 2016, the men would start at 425 lb. and end at 615 lb., while the women opened at 275 lb. and cleared the ladder at 415 lb. Brooke Wells and Sam Dancer shocked the small crowd in Aromas with their big weights, both clearing the ladder and winning the event.
The last event at the Ranch was the Ranch Mini Chipper. Athletes sprinted through a fast combo of wall-ball shots, medicine-ball GHD sit-ups and a sprint carrying a medicine ball up the Ranch’s legendary hill. Two-time Games champion Annie Thorisdottir and Games rookie Brent Fikowski took first in the event.
Then it was time to bid farewell to the Ranch, and after a long night and several flight delays, athletes returned to Carson. From there, they took on an open-water swim, a new version of Murph and new pieces of Rogue equipment. They faced many new challenges in the quest to reach the podium and earn the title of Fittest on Earth.
At the end of the weekend, two-time second-place Games finisher Mat Fraser stood atop the podium after a more-than-dominant performance throughout the entire week. Iceland transplant Katrin Davidsdottir took the women’s title for the second consecutive year, and CrossFit Mayhem Freedom, captained by four-time individual champion Rich Froning, repeated as the Affiliate Cup champ.
After seven years in the venue, rumor had it that 2016 would likely be the last year the Games would be held at the StubHub Center. That would become official on Nov. 20, when Castro announced the new host city for 2017: Madison, Wisconsin.
The 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games: A New Era
Darwin argued that evolution proceeds by small successive changes rather than large leaps.
Gradualism held true even for the man-made sport of the CrossFit Games. That is, until 2015. After years of minor, almost imperceptible changes to the sport, Director of the Games Dave Castro announced sweeping changes that would re-shape the regional format.
To make it to regionals now, athletes needed to put in a Herculean effort in the Open. And to make it to the Games, athletes needed to be truly ready for the world stage. With multiple regions competing together at regionals, the advantage of coming from a less competitive region was stamped out. Only the world’s fittest would make it to Carson, California.
In addition to the regional changes, Castro added a Teenage Division for athletes 14 - 17 years old and a scaled option for the Open.
With the addition of the scaled option, Castro was able to make the Rx’d workouts even tougher. 2015 saw the addition of a new movement, handstand push-ups (15.4), as well as the shift to have muscle-ups at the start of the workout (in 15.3) rather than the end ( as seen in 14.4, 13.3, and 12.4). Many athletes would spend the 14 minutes of 15.3 fighting for their first muscle-up, with more than 3,000 athletes succeeding.
At the end of the Open, silver medalist Mat Fraser would come out ahead of recently retired four-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning Jr., and Ben Smith would finish third. On the women’s side, two-time CrossFit Games champion Annie Thorisdottir won. Kara Webb, who led part of the 2014 Games before being sidelined by a pinched nerve, took second, and newcomer Sara Sigmundsdottir followed in third.
At the new combined regionals, elite athletes from multiple regions competed for even fewer qualifying spots than in past years which led to multiple upsets. Multi-year top Games competitor, Josh Bridges, would miss qualification by one spot at the California Regional, and the perennial queen of Europe, Annie Thorisdottir, would be dethroned by her fellow countrywoman Sara Sigmundsdottir. Many veteran Games athletes would end the weekend outside of the cut.
Individual division retirees, Jason Khalipa of NorCal CrossFit and Rich Froning of CrossFit Mayhem Freedom, brought new energy to the team competition and helped successfully qualify their teams for the CrossFit Games.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Games started in the water. But this time, the athletes were given paddleboards. The Pier Paddle asked athletes to swim 500 meters around the Hermosa Beach Pier, then paddle two miles on the hard-to-balance prone-paddleboards, and then swim around the pier again before crossing the finish line.
Athletes from outside the United States proved more adept in the water. Finland’s Jonne Koski was the first across the line in 42:16, followed by Australia’s Khan Porter two minutes later. The fastest women would finish a minute after Porter, with Australia’s Kara Webb earning the W in 45:30 and Canada’s Michele Letendre following in 45:54.
Later that day, the athletes came to the StubHub Center to take on a 2010 throwback event: the Sandbag Move. Athletes had to move hundreds of pounds of sandbags from the top of the stairs on the north side of the Tennis Stadium to the top of the stairs on the south end, crossing through the center of the stadium using Rogue’s heavy duty wheelbarrows.
Shorter women tended to get stuck on the south wall, unable to sling the heavy sandbags over its high face without getting creative first. Some built platforms out of sandbags, which helped them get the heaviest red bag over the top. Even still, many approached the 15-minute time cap, and six reached it.
Olympian Anna Tunnicliffe blazed through the event, finishing it in 8:30, which was 30 seconds faster than the next fastest competitor, Emily Abbott (9:03). Lukas Hogberg handily won the event (10:07) with a close race between Mat Fraser (10:38) and two of the Games’ tallest athletes, Elijah Muhammad (10:47) and Chad Mackay (10:55).
Like in past years, the first day of competition pushed many international athletes to the top of the leaderboard, but with three days remaining there was plenty of chance for movement in the overall standings.
1. Kara Webb (188 pts)
2. Anna Tunnicliffe (180 pts)
3. Sara Sigmundsdottir (152 pts)
7. Tia-Clair Toomey (128 pts)
15. Katrin Davidsdottir (96 pts)
1T. Jonne Koski (168 pts)
1T. Chad Mackay (168 pts)
3. Mat Fraser (150 pts)
6. Bjorgvin Guomundsson (122 pts)
18. Ben Smith (84 pts)
The athletes were given Thursday to recover, only to arrive on Friday in the blazing heat of the noon-time Los Angeles sun to take on the 1-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and 1-mile run of Murph.
With body armor strapped to their chests and the sun beating down, many athletes overheated. Long after European freaks of nature Bjorgvin Guomundsson and Sam Briggs ran in triumphantly to seal the win, many others struggled to finish the event. Some would need medical care, including Kara Webb and Annie Thorisdottir.
After that thorough beatdown, athletes were asked to quickly recover and take on the Snatch Speed Ladder, which was a variation of the Clean Speed Ladder that had appeared in the Games the year prior. For each round of the event, the athletes would face a ladder of five progressively heavier barbells. At the call of go, the athletes would race through the bars with only the fastest athletes earning an invite to the next round.
Brooke Ence would snatch her way to her first win of the weekend, beating Katrin Davidsdottir, while on the men’s side Jon Pera would win with Ben Smith in second and Mat Fraser in third.
For the first time, Castro put an event up for a vote on Twitter. Responding with a hashtag, fans voted between Long DT and Heavy DT for Friday’s closing event. Fans chose heavy. The classic CrossFit workout of 12 deadlifts, 9 hang power cleans, and 6 push jerks for 5 rounds, would jump in weight from 155 lb. to 205 lb. for men, and from 105 lb. to 145 lb. for women.
Foreshadowing the future rivalries in the overall competition, Sigmundsdottir and Davidsdottir went 1, 2, on Heavy DT as did Smith and Fraser. Incredibly, even after all of the work that had preceded the event Smith was able to push sub-8 (7:55) while Sigmundsdottir came in before 8:30 (8:25).
Fraser and Sigmundsdottir, the athletes who entered Friday in third, would end the day in the lead. Smith and Davidsdottir each made enormous leaps on Friday from the high teens to second overall. Kara Webb and Jonne Koski dropped from the lead to third.
1. Sara Sigmundsdottir (380 pts, up from third)
2T. Katrin Davidsdottir (340 pts, up from 15th)
2T. Kara Webb (340 pts, down from first)
13. Tia-Clair Toomey (248 pts, down from seventh)
1. Mat Fraser (426 pts, up from third)
2. Ben Smith (338 pts, up from 18th)
3. Jonne Koski (316 pts, down from first)
4. Bjorgvin Guomundsson (304 pts, up from sixth)
Saturday morning was all about speed. In Sprint Course 1, athletes would race through the pylons that made their debut in the ZigZag Sprint at the 2013 Games, and then over four hurdles. For Sprint Course 2, they would race back starting first with the hurdles.
As expected, former collegiate 400-meter runner Dan Bailey excelled, winning both events and even catching his sunglasses as they fell midway through. Collegiate soccer player Lindy Barber and Norwegian decathlete Kristin Holte traded wins. Quietly, Australia’s rookie, Tia-Clair Toomey, sealed fourth and third, pushing her up the overall standings from 13th to fifth overall.
Fraser maintained the white jersey throughout the Sprint Course events but with 24th and 37th place event finishes he was bleeding points as Smith gained on him with solid 11th and sixth place finishes. Fraser’s 88 point lead before the Sprint Course would shrink to 40.
Similarly, the woman in the white jersey wasn’t the one to watch on the Sprint Course. That is, if you wanted to watch the fastest athlete. The leader, Sigmundsdottir, dropped to 37th and 38th in the sprint events, and watched as her lead over Davidsdottir went from 40 to a mere 7 points.
Later that day, another piece of equipment from the 2013 Games returned. The Pig. Designed to be flipped like a tire, the Pig is a rectangular hunk of metal that can be loaded to almost any weight. In 2013, the guts of the Pig were exposed. This time, all 560-lb. for men and 395-lb. for women were enclosed within a fire-engine red casing.
Athletes had to flip that incredibly heavy Pig 100 feet before climbing a high-hung rope without the use of their legs four times, and then kick up into a handstand and walk 100 feet for the Soccer Chipper.
The Pig’s weight was obvious, challenging the world’s fittest for each and every flip. Smith would win this event (+100 pts), while Fraser dropped to 32nd (+16); in one event, Smith closed a 40-point gap and had enough points to spare that he now led Fraser by 44 points. Longtime strongwoman Elisabeth Akinwale won the event, while Sigmundsdottir took fourth and Davidsdottir 15th. In one event, Sigmundsdottir regained her 40-point lead over Davidsdottir. Even more concerning for Davidsdottir, she was also losing ground to third-ranked Kara Webb. After the Soccer Chipper, only 8 points separated second from third overall.
Next up was the clean and jerk, in which rookie competitors Brooke Ence and Aaron Hanna topped the charts with 242- and 350-lb. lifts. Smith and Fraser, both strong lifters, stayed close together on this event with Smith lifting 347 for second and Fraser 342 for fourth. Similarly, Sigmundsdottir took sixth (230 lb.) to Davidsdottir’s 10th (217 lb.). Webb’s 225-lb. ninth-ranked lift further shrank the gap between herself and Davidsdottir to 4 points.
To close out the day, the athletes took on the quick Triangle Couplet of thrusters and bar muscle-ups, which brought 2014 and 2013 women’s champions Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Sam Briggs to the top of the field for the event and gave an important win to Mat Fraser.
The Triangle Couplet allowed Fraser to close in on Smith by 24 points, such that only 30 points separated them heading into the final day of competition. Cole Sager had a great Saturday, jumping from 11th to third overall.
The day’s final event was good and bad for Davidsdottir. She gained on the leader by 24 points, taking eighth to Sigmundsdottir’s 18th, but lost her position as the second-ranked athlete to Webb who had been extremely close to her in the point totals and had an exceptional showing with a fourth-place finish on the couplet. Like Sager, Toomey had a great day and moved up from 13th to third.
1. Sara Sigmundsdottir (589 pts, maintained white jersey throughout Saturday)
2. Kara Webb (569 pts, maintained second)
3. Katrin Davidsdottir (556 pts, down from second)
4. Tia-Clair Toomey (514 pts, up from 13th)
1. Ben Smith (675 pts, up from second)
2. Mat Fraser (645 pts, down from first)
3. Cole Sager (574 pts, up from 11th)
4. Bjorgvin Guomundsson (534 pts, maintained fourth)
Sunday began with the surprising and unfortunate news that Annie Thorisdottir had withdrawn, citing lingering effects from Murph. The two-time champion and two-time second place finisher would not be returning to her usual place atop the podium in 2015.
Three events remained before the Fittest on Earth would be named: Midline Madness, Pedal to the Metal 1, and Pedal to the Metal 2. Though, the athletes didn’t know what the last two events would be when the day began.
Midline Madness was 6 rounds of a 400-meter run and 50-foot yoke carry (380 / 300 lb.). The two European women known for their running, Sam Briggs and Kristin Holte, smashed the event going sub-14 (13:26, 13:53).
On the men’s side, the turnout was far less predictable. An athlete who has long claimed to hate running, former Olympic lifter Mat Fraser, took second to Jacob Heppner. Smith took seventh, and saw his lead lessen to 8 points.
The women’s top three overall, Sigmundsdottir-Webb-Davidsdottir, went ninth-fifth-19th, which rearranged the standings such that Davidsdottir was back in second and now with a manageable 17-point gap between herself and Sigmundsdottir.
Entering Pedal to the Medal 1
1. Sara Sigmundsdottir (653 pts, maintained first)
2. Katrin Davidsdottir (636 pts, up from third)
3. Kara Webb (611 pts, down from second)
4. Tia-Clair Toomey (590 pts, maintained fourth)
1. Ben Smith (747 pts, maintained first)
2. Mat Fraser (739 pts, maintained second)
3. Cole Sager (618 pts, maintained third)
4. Bjorgvin Guomundsson (614 pts, maintained fourth)
A cloaked structure loomed at the north end of the Tennis Stadium, waiting to be revealed. Castro brought the athletes out to watch as Rogue uncovered the plexiglass peg board.
For Pedal to the Metal 1, athletes would need to figure out how to ascend the peg board three times before they could move on to row (24-calories), bike (16-calories), and then dumbbell squat snatch (100 / 70 lb., 8 reps).
The peg board came as a shock to many athletes who had never tried to ascend one before, though this piece of equipment didn’t come out of left field. Greg Glassman, the Founder and CEO of CrossFit, wrote about pegboards in 2002 in the Garage Gym article published in the CrossFit Journal.
“The Climbing Rope may or may not be an option in your gym, but there are several other climbing options that are possible in any space. Climbing Holds, Campus Boards, and Peg Boards are wickedly effective, functional, and fun,” Glassman wrote. “We’ve limited experience with this stuff, but it is our next frontier.”
That new frontier claimed athletes like the Sierra Nevada claimed members of the Donner Party; not everyone made it. Twelve men and 25 women failed to successfully ascend the pegboard once, including Davidsdottir and Sigmundsdottir, whose 17-point gap would remain intact heading into the final event given they both tied for 13th.
Margaux Alvarez came the closest to finishing the event with 8 reps remaining at the time cap. Six men made it through, including the two men vying for the title. Reaching the finish mat 31 seconds ahead, Fraser took second (94 points) to Smith’s fourth (84 points). That 10 points was all Fraser needed to close the 8-point gap, and give him the lead entering the last event. With only 2 points separating them, the winner would be decided by the final.
Entering Pedal to the Medal 2
1. Sara Sigmundsdottir (707 pts, maintained first)
2. Katrin Davidsdottir (690 pts, maintained second)
3. Kara Webb (687 pts, maintained third)
4. Tia-Clair Toomey (666 pts, maintained fourth)
1. Mat Fraser (833 pts, up from second)
2. Ben Smith (831 pts, down from first)
3. Bjorgvin Karl Guomundsson (686 pts, up from fourth)
For Pedal to the Metal 2, the athletes faced 12 parallette handstand push-ups, a 24-calorie row, 16-calorie bike, and 8 kettlebell deadlifts with 2 massive kettlebells weighing 203 lb. each for the men and 124 lb. each for the women.
Fraser and Sigmundsdottir entered the final event wearing the white leader’s jersey. Seven minutes worth of work or less separated them from the title Fittest on Earth and $275,000. All they needed to do was keep Smith and Davidsdottir behind them.
From the very start, that goal slipped from their fingers as their challengers overcame them in the chipper. Davidsdottir blazed through the event to seal her first event win of the weekend in 4:42. With 100 points added to her total, Davidsdottir now needed Sigmundsdottir to finish in fifth or lower. Sigmundsdottir would reach the time cap with 9 reps to go, and drop to 22nd in the event.
Pedal to the Metal 2 had dealt a massive blow to the rookie who had led the competition since Friday night. Sigmundsdottir had not just lost the title with her 22nd place finish, she had lost the silver medal as well. Prior to the event she had a 41 point gap over fourth-ranked Toomey, however, Toomey’s fourth place finish on PTTM 2 gave her a 48 point edge over Sigmundsdottir. Toomey would leap to silver, while Sigmundsdottir dropped to bronze.
In the short event, Smith would build a minute and a half lead over Fraser. Smith was the fourth across the line in 5:01. With Fraser so far back, it was immediately clear that Smith had done it. In his seventh year at the CrossFit Games, Ben Smith had earned the title Fittest on Earth.
2015 Games Podium
1. Katrin Davidsdottir (790 pts, up from second)
2. Tia-Clair Toomey (750 pts, up from fourth)
3. Sara Sigmundsdottir (743 pts, down from first)
1. Ben Smith (915 pts, up from second)
2. Mat Fraser (879 pts, down from first)
3. Bjorgvin Karl Guomundsson (766 pts, maintained third)
2015 Live Coverage
The 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games: The End of an Era
2014 marked the end of an era.
Rich Froning Jr. said it was his last year; he would retire from the individual competition whether or not he clinched the title Fittest on Earth for the fourth consecutive time. The 2008 champion and perennial podium contender Jason Khalipa also announced plans for retirement from the individual competition.
Meanwhile, it was becoming clear 2014 would be an exceptional year for the women’s competition. 2013 had been marked by the absence of the top two women in 2012—two-time fittest woman on Earth Annie Thorisdottir withdrew from the 2013 Open due to a back injury, and 2012 silver medalist Julie Foucher didn’t enter the 2013 season in order to focus on medical school. Both were back in 2014 and ready to challenge the woman who had won in their absence: Sam Briggs.
The Open kicked off the season with the announcement of the first of five workouts on February 27. More than 209,000 people registered for the Open, a 50 percent increase from 2013, when more than 138,000 registered for the online competition.
It quickly became clear the reigning champions expected nothing less than first place. Briggs won 14.1, 14.4, and 14.5, while Froning never finished a workout outside the top 10 worldwide.
Athletes from around the world proved their fitness in a repeat of the first-ever Open workout: double-unders and power snatches (11.1/14.1); followed by two ascending ladders: first an ascending ladder of overhead squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups, where athletes progressed if they could complete the work within each 3-minute time cap (14.2), and next an ever-heavier ladder of deadlifts and box jumps (14.3).
The fourth week brought a chipper that started on the rowing machine—a first for the Open—and led into toes-to-bars, wall-ball shots, cleans, and muscle-ups (14.4). For the finale, Director of the CrossFit Games Dave Castro announced a couplet of thrusters and burpees—21-18-15-12-9-6-3--for time. At the live Open Announcement in San Francisco, California, five CrossFit Games champions raced through the reps with Briggs and Froning so far in the lead it was a race between the two. In the last moments, Froning pulled ahead.
The top 48 male and female athletes, as well as the top 30 teams from each of the 17 regions were invited to participate in regional competitions that took place over four weekends from May 9 to June 1. In locations from Santiago, Chile, to Washington, D.C., individuals began the three-day competition with a 1-rep-max hang squat snatch before kicking up into a handstand for a max-distance handstand walk.
For the first time, every heat of every domestic and major international regional was broadcast live on Games.CrossFit.com, which allowed fans to watch every moment of the competition. Elijah Muhammad awed viewers as he leapt to near the top of the rope in each round of sprints and legless rope climbs, and fans rallied behind Briggs after a setback on the handstand walk put her perilously far back in the standings at the Europe Regional.
All told, individuals competed in seven events, the last of which called for 64 pull-ups and 8 overhead squats (205/135 lb.), while the teams competed in eight events, which deviated more substantially from the individual versions of the workouts than in past years.
Each regional had a certain number of CrossFit Games spots to award, ranging from just one male, female, and team for Latin America, Asia and Africa, to two men, women, and teams for each Canadian region, and three men, women, and teams for all U.S. regions, as well as Australia and Europe. In a major break from the previous couple years, an extra Games qualifying spot was not added when a past CrossFit Games champion finished on a regional podium in 2014.
After her setback on the max-distance handstand walk, Briggs fought to get back in contention for one of the region’s three Games qualifying spots but the women above her on the Leaderboard proved unshakeable. Even with three event wins, Briggs finished the weekend in fourth place—one rank and 6 points away from qualifying for the Games.
At the StubHub Center in Carson, California, the CrossFit Games began on July 22 with 200 masters athletes, ranging in age from 40 to over 60. They competed in eight events—the first was a deadlift ladder. The athletes also negotiated sleds, rope climbs, handstand walking, med ball cleans, burpee muscle-ups, and plenty of classic CrossFit. The events for the youngest age division, 40-44, were the toughest ever and included events that have appeared in the individual division at the 2007 and 2012 Games (2007).
All masters events were broadcast live on various platforms, including ESPN channels and games.crossfit.com. In the end, men and women in five age categories were crowned Fittest on Earth. The podium finishers in each category were awarded US$10,000, $5,000 and $3,000.
Midway through the masters competition, the individual and team competitions began at the Hermosa Beach Pier. For the third consecutive year, Castro started the Games early with a surprise swim event on Wednesday morning.
This year’s swim event asked the competitors to break through the surf and swim 250 yards through the ocean, before completing 50 kettlebell thrusters and 30 burpees. The event was designed like a pyramid with a 500-yard swim at the top. Once that was complete, the athletes went back through the same work as before but in reverse order: 30 burpees, 50 kettlebell thrusters and 250-yard swim. It ended with a run through the soft sand to the finish line.
Soon after, the teams negotiated the surf with a large yellow rescue sled for a 1,000-yard swim with all hands on board.
Later Wednesday night, the individual competitors went to the tennis stadium at the StubHub Center to set their 1-rep-max overhead squat. Each athlete was given three attempts, and once they added weight to the bar they couldn’t go back down. Mathew Fraser and Froning tied for first at 377 lb., while Kara Webb took the win with a 250-lb. lift.
The athletes were then given a little more than a day to rest, and prepare for the weekend’s events in front of the crowds.
Friday got off to an odd start with Froning slowing down to a walk in Triple 3, and Anna Tunnicliffe twisting her ankle while trying to fend off Kristin Holte on the final sprint to the finish line.
The aerodynamic looking Sprint Sled may have cut through the air had it not had such a good grip on the ground. Some athletes struggled to get the sled going for the 100-yard sprint across the soccer field, and almost all arrived at the finish line surprisingly spent. Neal Maddox had no problem with it from the get-go, racing it to the finish line a full eight seconds ahead of the next best man, Jason Khalipa. The next round, Maddox edged out Tommy Hackenbruck for the win yet again. On the women’s side, newcomers Lauren Brooks and Emily Abbott traded the wins.
Later that night, the competitors moved gracefully through increasingly challenging movements with the barbell and on the pull-up bar for the 21-15-9 Complex. Deadlifts turned into cleans which turned into snatches, and were followed by pull-ups, chest-to-bar pull-ups and bar muscle-ups. It was here Camille Leblanc-Bazinet strung together the reps, and took her first event win of the weekend.
On the team side, it was all about Bob. The Big Bob. The massive six-person sled that can be pushed, carried, pulled or dragged had returned to the Games, and it came with an addition: a pull-up bar. After the 6-mile Relay Run in the L.A. heat, the teams entered Frantasy Land where they had to complete increasingly challenging versions of Fran, and then advance the sled.
Soon after, they moved the Big Bob 100 yards, then set their cumulative 1-rep-max deadlifts—one for the men and one for the women—before returning to the sled to move it another 200 yards.
On Saturday, the Muscle-up Biathlon demanded three 400-meter runs up and over the crest of the soccer stadium followed by 18, 15, and 12 muscle-ups. Unlike any other event to date, it punished athletes each time they dropped from the rings with a 200-meter lap. As their arms fatigued the 200-meter runs piled on.
Cody Anderson managed all of the muscle-ups in unbroken sets to take the win. He finished 1,200 meters of running and 45 muscle-ups in just 10:43.
The rest of the day was filled with the Sprint Carry with cylinders and sandbags, the Clean Speed Ladder where only the fastest athletes advanced to the next, heavier round, and the Push Pull, where athletes dragged weighted sleds across the stadium before pushing their way through deeper and deeper deficit handstand push-ups.
For the teams, Saturday was all about the Worm. After the Triples Chipper, where the teams dealt with heavy medicine-ball cleans, muscle-ups and handstand push-ups, the teams couldn’t escape the Worm. They squatted it in unison and jumped over it in the Squat Burpee, and then sprinted it across the field in the Worm Sprint.
On Sunday, things wrapped up with the Midline March followed by Thick ’N Quick and the surprise Double Grace. Teams faced the Team Fifties, and the pairing of the two objects any sane teammate had come to loath: the Worm and the Bob for the Worm Bob Final.
The final day of competition saw big shifts on the Leaderboard, including the loss of one the women’s top contenders. Kara Webb of Australia entered the Midline March in second overall, but during the rounds of GHD sit-ups, handstand walks and overhead walking lunges, it quickly became clear something was wrong as she grimaced in pain. When she entered the tunnel at the end of the event, she would not return to the field. She decided to withdraw due to injury.
That shifted Thorisdottir into second overall, and Foucher into third, with Leblanc-Bazinet in the key position at the top heading into the final events.
Thick ’N Quick demanded four rope climbs with an unusually thick rope followed by 3 heavy overhead squats without a rack (245/165 lb.) Since the athletes were held in seclusion before the event, Castro was able to surprise heat after heat with the true end to the Games: Double Grace.
Moments after Thick ’N Quick, the competitors had to race through 60 clean and jerks (135/95 lb.)
Leblanc-Bazinet emerged the victor, with Thorisdottir and Foucher sharing the other spots on the podium.
Froning ended his incredible five-season career as the four-time CrossFit Games champion. He left no doubt by winning every event on Sunday by significant margins. First-time competitor Fraser joined him on the podium, as well as seven-time Games competitor Khalipa.
Perennial CrossFit Games team CrossFit Invictus earned the top spot on the podium and were joined by CrossFit Conjugate and CrossFit Marysville.
For the first time, prize money was awarded to every man and woman in the top 20, and CrossFit announced a Rookie of the Year (Mat Fraser) and Most Improved Athlete (Cassidy Lance), in addition to the longstanding award for Spirit of the Games (Becca Voigt).
2014 Live Coverage
The 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games: A Year of Historic Numbers
In 2013, the CrossFit Games boasted staggering participation numbers worldwide during the Open.
The Open kicked off the season with the announcement of the first of five workouts on March 6. Anyone in the world could compete against CrossFit’s elite. More than 138,000 people registered for the five-week Open, nearly a 100 percent increase from 2012, when more than 69,000 registered for the competition. It also was a 220 percent increase from 2011, the Open’s inaugural year, in which more than 26,000 participants competed over six weeks.
Despite seemingly ubiquitous participation, one name was noticeably absent from the leaderboard: reigning Games champion Annie Thórisdóttir. The 24-year-old had been dealing with a back injury, and a recurrence lead her to forgo further competition after Open workout 13.3. After three events she was in 12th place worldwide. The void made way for other women in Europe, eager to replace the Games’ first repeat female champion on the Regional podium.
In the end, two-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning Jr. of the U.S.A. and the U.K.’s Sam Briggs won the worldwide Open after proving their fitness in workouts that included burpees plus snatches and a repeat of 2012’s 12-minute workout of as many rounds as possible of 150 wall balls, 90 double-unders and 30 muscle-ups. The five weeks ended with an AMRAP workout of thrusters and pull-ups that “rewarded” the fastest athletes by adding an additional four minutes to the workout each time they completed 90 reps.
The top 48 male and female athletes, as well as the top 30 teams from each of 17 regions were invited to participate in regional events that took place anywhere from May 17 to June 9. In locations from Ballerup, Denmark to Del Mar, Calif., individuals and teams began the three-day competition with a version of the classic CrossFit workout Jackie that called for both men and women to use the same weight: a 45-lb. barbell. The final day of competition at six regionals was broadcast live on games.crossfit.com—Central East, Mid Atlantic, Northern California, North Central, Southern California and South West—and the final event of the Europe Regional was broadcast live on Eurosport in a host of languages.
All told, individuals and teams each competed in seven events, the last of which called for rope climbs, sprints and squat cleans. Each regional had a certain number of CrossFit Games spots to award, ranging from just one male, female and team in Latin America to five males in Central East, where two defending champions earned return trips to the Games and opened up additional spots for others.
At the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., the CrossFit Games kicked off July 22 with 200 masters athletes, ranging in age from 40 to 60-plus. They competed in six events; the first was another one from the CrossFit vault: Nancy. The athletes also negotiated sleds, handstand push-ups, deadlifts, box jumps and one-rep-max clean and jerks. All masters events were broadcast live on various platforms, including ESPN channels and games.crossfit.com. In the end, men and women in five age categories were crowned Fittest on Earth.
As the masters’ competition ended, the individuals’ was just getting started. Games organizers planned events that used nearly the entire StubHub campus—and even beyond. Individual athletes began their competition at the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine, Calif., for 10 rounds of two 25-yard swims and 3 bar muscle-ups. Next, they were back in Carson at the Velodrome for a 21,097-meter row.
The 2013 Games saw new equipment introduced: the so-called Pig, a weighted metal frame that could be flipped end over end, and the Worm, comprising six short segments of logs linked together by rope.
After nine events—also broadcast live—Froning retained his crown for the second consecutive year and became the first three-time Games champion in history. Briggs, returning to competition in 2013 after sitting out 2012 with a knee injury, was atop the podium for the women.
In the Affiliate Cup, Hack’s Pack Ute also made history, becoming the first team to pull off a repeat win at the Games after seven events that had squad members navigating mixed-pairs sled pulls and squat clean and jerks with the Worm before a record crowd of about 25,000 people.
2013 Live Coverage
The 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games: Surprise Camp Pendleton Events
The CrossFit community’s rapid growth accelerated in 2012. Along with CrossFit Level 1 Seminars spreading true fitness all over the world, thousands of CrossFit affiliates encouraged its members to take a leap and prove their fitness in the worldwide Open.
More than 69,000 CrossFitters signed up for the 2012 Reebok Games CrossFit Open — 43,000 more than in 2011. Despite the new competitors, much stayed the same in the 2012 Open. Athletes completed five workouts over five weeks, starting on Wednesday, February 22 and ending on Sunday, March 25, 2012 — all of them composed of classic CrossFit movements such as high-rep snatches in 12.2 and a triplet of box jumps, push presses, and toe-to-bars in 12.3. And 2011’s final Open event, a 7-minute couplet of thrusters and chest–to-bar pull-ups again closed the Open in 2012. In the end, 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games champ Rich Froning won on the men’s side, and 2010 champ Kristan Clever led the women.
The Open was just part one of a three-part season, however. As in 2011, the 60 fittest athletes and 30 fittest teams from each region earned invitations to one of 17 Regionals, which were held over five weeks from April 27 to May 27, 2012. At Regionals, the bars got heavier, reps got higher, and the skills became more demanding. Individuals took on 45 handstand push-ups and 45 deadlifts in the first workout, Diane, then 30 reps of heavy hang cleans in the very next event. After three days and six rigorous tests of fitness, each Regional sent the top men, three women, and three teams on to the Games in Carson, Calif.
Record-breaking crowds showed up from July 13-15, 2012 at the Home Depot Center to watch the CrossFit Games athletes throw down. As usual, Games director Dave Castro threw a curveball at the competitors. The Monday before the Games, Castro announced an additional day of off-site competition. The Wednesday before, individual athletes headed to U.S. Marine base Camp Pendleton, where they confronted a 700-meter ocean swim with fins, an 8-kilometer bike ride across undulating terrain and soft sand, an 11.3-kilometer run across steep hills and more than 427 meters of elevation gain, and multiple trips across the Obstacle course. After Pendleton, the athletes returned to the Home Depot Center for three more days of grueling competition.
Despite the new tests of fitness, 2012 recorded a first in CrossFit Games history — repeat champions. Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir each claimed the title Fittest on Earth for the second consecutive year. The team competition challenged teams’ breadth by forcing all six teammates to compete in every event, including 400-meter sprints and heavy yoke walks. It ended with a dose of the familiar, the same slate-wiped-clean Girls final as in 2011. Hack’s Pack Ute won the Affiliate Cup with a blistering time of 21:43, beating 2011 champ CrossFit New England’s time by more than two minutes.
2012 Live Coverage
Central East Regional
Games Live: Men's Competition
Games Live: Women's Competition
Games Live: Team Competition
Games Live: Master's Men Competition
Games Live: Master's Women Competition
The 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games: Open and ESPN Coverage
The first big news of the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games season was the announcement of a 10-year title sponsorship deal with Reebok. The new partnership allowed for a dramatic increase in prize money. The winners took home a combined $1 million prize purse, with the male and female individual winners taking home $250,000 each.
The 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games season began with the first ever Open competition. Athletes worldwide competed in six workouts over six weeks from March 15 to May 1, 2011, posting their scores in real time and online. Anyone could throw their hat in the ring to compete for a position among the fittest athletes in the world. More than 26,000 athletes competed in the Open, making it one of the largest sporting events in history.
The 60 fittest athletes and 30 fittest teams from each region earned invitations to one of 17 Regionals. For the first time, Regional competitors around the world all competed in the same events. Across three days of competition and six events from May 27-June 19, 2011, the fittest men, women and teams around the world qualified for the season’s culminating event, the CrossFit Games held July 29-31, 2011 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Surprisingly, the Games began outside of the Home Depot Center. Event 1 took the individual athletes to the Santa Monica Pier for an ocean swim, followed by some beach running and calisthenics. Over the course of 10 events, Rich Froning Jr. and Annie Thorisdottir established themselves as the Fittest on Earth™. After a dramatic final event for the Affiliate Cup, in which the slate was wiped clean and the top six teams battled for the top spot, CrossFit New England prevailed on the team’s side.
2011 witnessed another landmark evolution for the CrossFit Games; CrossFit and ESPN embarked upon a partnership to spread the sport of fitness to a wider audience than ever before. To begin, ESPN3 covered the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games with running Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Six weeks later, ESPN2 ran covering the entire male and female competition on primetime TV. ESPN2 and ESPN re-aired the shows multiple times throughout the fall and winter, building new interest in the CrossFit Games as the community geared up for the 2012 Open.
The 2010 CrossFit Games: The Home Depot Center
In addition to Regionals, the 2010 season added a new qualifying step: Sectionals. From February 13 to March 28, 2010, athletes around the world first competed in smaller Sectional events. The best athletes at Sectionals then moved on to Regionals, the final qualifying step before the Games.
In 2010, the CrossFit Games outgrew the Aromas Ranch that hosted its first three years. The Games moved to the Home Depot Center, a professional sporting venue in Los Angeles that has hosted the X-Games and Major League Soccer events. A couplet of ring muscle-ups and squat snatches dedicated to Amanda Miller kicked off the competition on July 16, 2010.
A total of 45 men and 41 women participated in the 2010 Individual competition. All of them had to qualify in order to enter the competition. After qualifying in the regional level competitions, 68 affiliate teams competed in the 2010 Affiliate Cup. For the first time in CrossFit Games history, the 2010 Games featured male and female Masters competitions. Masters athletes qualified by completing a set of workouts at their local regional competitions.
Graham Holmberg of CrossFit Columbus won the 2010 men’s competition after finishing 19th the year before. Kristan Clever of Valley CrossFit won the women’s competition after a 4th-place 2009 performance. CrossFit Fort Vancouver won the Affiliate Cup Trophy. Brian Curley won the first-ever male Masters competition and Laurie Carver won the female Masters competition.
The 2009 CrossFit Games: A Global Phenomenon
The 2009 Games marked the global explosion of CrossFit, with regional qualifiers held in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Iceland, Asia, Australia and Africa, as well as online. What started as a small event two years earlier was suddenly a global phenomenon.
With a JumboTron towering over the newly-renovated Ranch, the next installment of the Games kicked off July 10, 2009. Surrounded by bleachers packed with almost 4,000 fans, just more than 150 elite athletes competed in the individual contest, with close to 100 teams competing in the Affiliate Cup. A live DJ, a vendors' tent village, and a beer garden completed the event.
Given the growth of CrossFit around the world, it seemed fitting that Mikko Salo of Finland arrived quietly in Aromas, but left as the CrossFit Games champion. The stoic Finn’s consistent performance, across eight diverse events of CrossFit movements, earned him both the respect of his peers and a spot atop the podium.
Tanya Wagner, denied a victory in 2008, returned to Aromas to face an international challenge in the form of Annie Thorisdottir, a gifted young athlete from Iceland. This time around, the ebullient schoolteacher from Souderton, Pennsylvania, triumphed.
The Affiliate Cup featured almost 100 teams competing in the first separate team competition. After three workouts, the crew from Northwest CrossFit, in Washington state, was at the top of the standings.
The 2008 CrossFit Games: Every Second Counts
In 2008, the Games exploded, with approximately 300 athletes competing in four challenging workouts, including a variant of the signature workout “Fran.” About 800 fans were on hand to watch the event from July 5-6, 2008. Jason Khalipa of Santa Clara, Calif., came from nowhere to beat favorite Josh Everett and won the men’s side of the competition. A documentary film, “Every Second Counts” by Sevan Matossian, was made about the competition, whetting the appetite of ravenous CrossFitters who were already counting down to the following July.
Caity Matter of Ohio was crowned the women’s champion, with Tanya Wagner of Pennsylvania only 10 seconds behind her in the overall standings. CrossFit Oakland’s combined individual efforts earned them the title of Affiliate Cup champions, as well.
The Inaugural 2007 CrossFit Games
CrossFit introduced the sport of fitness to the world in 2007, when a small group of around 70 athletes gathered at a ranch in northern California for the inaugural CrossFit Games.
CrossFit founder, Greg Glassman has always believed the fittest athletes would be able to handle any and every task, so the first event of the 2007 CrossFit Games was chosen randomly. With Coach Glassman presiding, colored balls labeled with movements were pulled from a hopper. A workout was created on the spot, and the assembled athletes were soon tested by a 1,000-meter row followed by five rounds of 25 pull-ups and seven push jerks.
With rowing machines humming in the California sunshine, CrossFit ushered in a new era of fitness competitions—an era where no points are awarded for style or appearance. The only way to win: do more work faster than anyone else, and let the clock be the judge.
California’s Jolie Gentry and Canadian James FitzGerald won the inaugural 2007 CrossFit Games. CrossFit Santa Cruz won the 2007 Affiliate Cup by virtue of its members' placing in the individual events.