Can we all take a moment to be grateful we weren’t the ones rowing a marathon on Wednesday? Dave Castro said this year’s Day 1 of the individual competition in the CrossFit Games would be the hardest Day 1 to date, and he did not tell a lie. For those unfamiliar with Castro, he’s the CrossFit Games Director. I like to think of him as the Seneca Crane (Head Gamesmaker in The Hunger Games) of CrossFit. He loves dreaming up insane workouts and pushing athletes’ limits. Like most of CrossFit, I admire and hate him at the same time.
My work from home day of the week just happened to line up with Day 1 of the games, so while pulling data and re-structuring an ad server, I streamed the Games. The four events of Day 1 looked like this:
- Criterium (10 laps on a bike)
- 30 Muscle-Ups for time (on rings)
- CrossFit Total (max back squat, press, and deadlift; 4 minutes per lift; 12 minutes total; score is the total of all three maxes)
- Marathon Row (42,195 meters on a rower)
The Crit was fun enough to watch. Most of the athletes had trained on bikes – you have to anticipate everything at the Games – but it was easy to tell who was comfortable on a bike and who wasn’t. 30 Muscle Ups went by relatively quickly. I missed the women’s heats, but I caught the men. Muscle Ups are one of the gymnastics moves I’m eager to conquer. So far, I’m really good at swinging back and forth on the rings.
I was most looking forward to CrossFit Total for Day 1. I’ve done CrossFit Total and am pretty pleased with my 650lb total (my press isn’t… im-press-ive…). In the Games, that total would have been good enough for 40th place in the event. There are 40 athletes. And I’d only get 40th because one athlete withdrew.
I watched a fair amount of the rowing, but it was boring. I can’t imagine how bored the athletes must have been, never mind the amount of physical pain their bodies were in. They had crates by their rower of water and snacks for pre, during, and post nutrition and hydration, otherwise, they just sat and rowed. For hours. The top time went to Lukas Esslinger with 2 hours, 43 minutes. The top woman, Margaux Alvarez, finished in 3 hours flat. Watching the athletes hobble off the field floor drove home just how hard it was.
My favorite photo from the games so far is this one:
On the rower is Alessandra Pichelli, and she was hurting. About an hour and a half in, she started showing signs of cramping, but she kept pushing – pulling? – through, stopping occasionally to catch her breath and get her bearings. As the other athletes finished, several of them gathered around her to cheer her on. If you pay attention, you’ll see a lot of that at the Games – athletes cheering each other on. They want to win. They want to do their best. But they also want their fellow athletes to do well. I love that about CrossFit.
Pichelli finished the row in 3 hours, 34 minutes. It had a four hour time cap.
Going into Friday’s events (Thursday was a well-deserved rest day), Laura Horvath, a Games rookie from Hungary, is leading the women’s field, with Tia-Clair Toomey, last year’s champ, in second. I’m pulling for my girl Katrin Davidsdottier who is in 6th, despite a not great CrossFit Total. And over on the men’s side, it should surprise no one that Mat Fraser is on top. The man is a machine and it’s fun to watch. I’m also loving Cole Sager.
I’ll be sneaking Games updates in the office today – we’ve got The Battleground and a return of Fibonacci coming at us today – and watching Saturday and Sunday’s action. I’ve followed the CrossFit Games the last couple of years, but it’s really been fun to follow them this year with a few months of CrossFit under my belt. I’ve already decided I’m going (as a spectator!) next year.
And career goal: Be a CrossFit Games reporter. I would crush that job.
Speaking of CrossFit.
This week’s Fit Friday is all bodyweight, and not unlike what you might find for a WOD. The name of the game is AMRAP – As Many Rounds As Possible – in 12 minutes. Give it a go this weekend and report back.
Are you watching the CrossFit Games? Who are your picks to make it to the podium?