Hello, my friends! As you know, I spent the weekend out in Los Angeles, California spectating the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games. What a cool experience – a huge thank you again to Reebok for sponsoring me for this trip – it was such an amazing opportunity to be there and see the action in person.
In case you have no idea what the CrossFit Games is, it’s basically like the CrossFit Olympics. Since its inception in 2007, the CrossFit Games has served as the test to find the world’s fittest athletes. It is renowned as a grueling test for the world’s toughest athletes and a thrilling experience for spectators.
The Games season is actually a three-stage journey. The first step is the CrossFit Open, which is a worldwide, inclusive, five-week competition that kicks off each spring. Anyone can participate – this year, there were 138,000 athletes in the mix! The top athletes from the Open in each of the 17 regions around the world will then qualify for the second stage of the competition — Regionals, which is a live three-day competition. The season culminates in the annual Reebok CrossFit Games. At the Games, thousands of participants will have been whittled down to around 50 each of the fittest men and women in the world.
Once at the Games, athletes are challenged by a series of extremely varied and difficult workouts – some of which are unknown to the athletes (and the public) until right before the competition! Not only does this challenge the athletes even more, but it also makes things more exciting for the spectators. :)
I loved how varied all the challenges were, both in terms of time, muscle groups, and style. Events in the past have ranged from dusty hill sprints to sandbag carries to ocean swims to gymnastics to heavy lifting to endurance-style events – and much more. One of the crazy challenges this year was legless rope climbs! How hard would that be?! It was really exciting to watch, too, as the athletes would sometimes get SO close to touching the top and then fall off, to an audible “ahhh!” from the crowd!
Co-ed teams also compete at the Games for the title of the fittest team on earth. I loved this challenge pictured below – those caterpillar looking weights attached by short ropes had to be hoisted onto their shoulders all at once, then everyone did a squat and flipped the weights to their other shoulder over their head, then back down to the ground, and then repeated! It looked insanely hard. Meanwhile, the group in the bottom center is doing the previous challenge, which was handstand pushups – see the girl’s feet up on that plastic wall the guy is holding up? Whew!
In terms of scoring, the Games uses a relative scoring system, meaning that athletes are rewarded according to their placing in each event relative to their peers — not according to their absolute performance on that event. Athletes that do not finish within the time cap will have one second added to their time for each repetition not completed. Athletes are ranked in heats throughout the weekend, and whittled down as the weekend progresses. The individual athlete with the most points after the final event was crowned the Fittest On Earth!
I have to say, I’m not normally someone who enjoys watching sports all day, but watching the Games was AWESOME. So much more entertaining than any other sporting event I’ve been to! It was just really exciting to check the website right before the events and see what the mystery challenge would be, and then to see all the really varied challenges play out right before our eyes. A lot of the events ended up with really tight races between a few of the top people in the heat, so that was really exciting, too. The crowd got really into it all! I also loved the fact that I had actually done a lot of the workouts/moves they were doing (at VERY scaled down variations, obviously), so I really understood what the athletes were doing and how hard it all was.
When we weren’t actively watching an event, we had fun walking around all the vendors. There was always something to do at the Games! It reminded me of a huge race expo, but with all CrossFit-related products and gear instead of running stuff.
Reebok had a big pop-up store selling all sorts of cool Games branded gear and some of their newer products, including the brand new CrossFit Nano 3.0s that a lot of the athletes were wearing during the Games (and that I just wrote about last week)! The other bloggers and I were lucky enough to receive some of the gear from Reebok when we arrived, so anything that we’re wearing in these posts is Reebok. They have some REALLY cute stuff right now – we all especially loved the tire flip graphic t-shirts that you can see Tina and Gina rocking in the second photo in this post, and the “Fittest on Earth” shirt I’m wearing below! I love their new CrossFit board shorts, too.
Another cool thing about the Games was that they had a ton of “fan experience” workout offerings, so everyone there spectating could get in a workout if they wanted to.
A couple of the girls and I signed up for a CrossFit Gymnastics skill practice workout – we all worked on our handstands, including walking handstands!
I made it down one length of the mats before biting the dust and falling sideways on my butt. ;) Something to work on! One way to practice the motion of the skill if you aren’t comfortable with handstands is to put your feet up on a box so your body is in a 90 degree angle, and then walk in a circle around the box on your hands, keeping your feet in the same place. Try it!
The workout ended with a billion pushups. :)
Another highlight of walking around the tents was that I got to see my original CrossFit coach from CrossFit Dupont (where Matt and I first started with CrossFit last summer), Chris! He’s the whole reason I started CrossFit – we met at the Lululemon Georgetown run club and he invited me and Matt to his gym to check it out, and the rest is history! It was great to see him again – it had been awhile! (Matt and I go to CrossFit Arlington now because CrossFit Dupont closed/relocated, and Chris moved on as well.)
Chris was there repping CrossFit Football, which is a strength and conditioning program designed for football players and participants in contact sports. They use functional movements performed at high intensity to simulate the demands placed on an athlete during a football game. Very cool! You can find more info on their website if you’re interested.
I also want to give some love to the awesome food options at the CrossFit Games. Normally at a stadium the choices are abysmal, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see a huge row of food trucks with fresh and healthy offerings! They knew all us athletes would want better options, apparently. :) (I’ve never seen such a fit group of people all in one place!)
The girls and I were particularly obsessed with the “Juice Box” food truck.
I had the MojitoBox one day and the BeachBox another – both were amazing.
If you didn’t want to head out to the food truck area, there were also great food options inside the stadium, specially offered for the Games. The standard offering was either BBQ chicken, sausage, or a burger with sweet potato salad on the side. YUM! I had the BBQ chicken twice and the sausage once – so good.
They even had stands selling fresh coconut water – right out of the coconuts! It was all quite a far cry from the standard stadium fare, although we did of course enjoy a couple beers while we were there, too. :)
The most exciting part of the Games was definitely the last hour – when the top men and women competed in the final challenge for the crown of fittest on earth! The workout was announced shortly beforehand, and was the following, broken into two grueling parts:
The Cinco Part 1
Three rounds for time:
- 5 Deadlifts (405 lb for men/ 265 lb for women) <— insanely heavy!!
- 5 weighted One-legged squats, left leg (53 / 35 lb kettle bell)
- 5 weighted One-legged squats, right leg (53 / 35 lb kettle bell)
- 80’ Handstand walk
Time Cap: 7 minutes.
The Cinco Part 2
Three rounds for time:
- 5 Muscle-ups
- 5 Deficit handstand push-ups
- 90’ Overhead walking lunge (160 / 100 lb axle bar)
This event will begin 1 minute after the end of the time cap for The Cinco 1. There is a 7:00 time cap for this event.
Insane, right? I loved how varied it was – heavy weights vs. body weight moves vs. gymnastics skills and more. It was crazy to watch.
My favorite was the handstand walk alllllll the way down the black mats. Only a couple people were able to do it unbroken, and the crowd went wild!
Some of the athletes were really good at this and able to make up a lot of time, and others got really held up.
The benefit of finishing the first part of the workout quickly (besides getting more points), was that those athletes got more time to rest before part 2 of the challenge.
The event culminated with weighted overhead walking lunges all the way back to where they started – OUCH!
As you already know if you were watching the coverage on ESPN2, Rich Froning was crowned the Fittest Man on Earth for the 3rd year in a row! Here he is finishing out his lunges for the win. Everyone was going CRAZY!
A big congratulations to him on his third win, and to the women’s winner, Samantha Briggs from the UK!
The girls and I were lucky enough to attend a press conference with the winners shortly after the Games ended. Here’s Rich:
And Ben Smith and Jason Khalipa, who came in third and second, respectively. Please note the beer – Jason enjoyed quite a few throughout the interviews. He earned it! Sorry for the awkward half eyes closed photo of him. :) Jason, as well as some of the top women, talked quite a bit about the power of positivity in training – both for yourself and towards others. He said that the minute you mentally give up on a workout, you’re done, even if your body isn’t. Something to remember – he’s very right!
Here are the top 3 women – Sam Briggs (left), Lindsey Valenzuela, and Valerie Voboril. Apparently they did quite a bit of training together and are good friends now. Sam came over from the UK and actually lived with Lindsey and her family for a few weeks so they could train all day every day! Apparently it all started with an email from Sam to Lindsey that said: “Would you fancy doing some training together?” I love the word fancy – gotta love Brits. :)
Plus the overall team competition winner – Hack’s Pack UTE.
It was really interesting to hear them all talk about their training and how much hard work it was to get to where they are now!
We also got to hear from some of the creators of the Games. How fun would it be to come up with all the crazy workouts every year?! They said they are already dreaming up some diabolical challenges for next year. Apparently early on in the Games a couple years ago, not only were some of the workouts a surprise, but the timing was also a surprise! Jason said that when he participated a few years ago, he would sometimes have just eaten a huge lunch and then gotten word that it was time for another event. Yikes! At least now they know when they can eat. :)
Watching the athletes all weekend and hearing them speak at the press conference let me feeling really motivated and excited to challenge myself more in CrossFit on a weekly basis. Obviously I’m not going to be doing 265 pound deadlifts anytime soon, but I could definitely challenge myself more on a day-to-day basis at CrossFit by using just a little more weight, or digging deep for a little more speed on the endurance workouts. What an inspiring weekend! :)
I’ll be back tomorrow to share part 2 of my weekend recap – our own fitness adventures! Stay tuned.
Do you CrossFit? If not, think you’ll give it a try?
Did you watch the Games coverage this year? And if so, did you feel as inspired (and entertained) as I did?