Two weeks ago, I went down to Columbus, Ohio with friends to watch the 2013 CrossFit Games Central East Regional. I’ve attended some pretty cool sporting events, including the Elite 8 and Sweet Sixteen (when Michigan State won it all) in 2000, Basketbowl in 2003, Ryder Cup practice rounds and the opening ceremony in 2004, and a World Series game in 2006, to name a few. The CrossFit Regional topped them all.
As a CrossFit athlete, I was able to relate to the events and the competitors like we can’t in other sporting events. I perform the same movements on a daily basis in my training, so it’s easier to appreciate the performances in a CrossFit competition. You don’t even need to see their faces to know what the athletes were going through, because we’ve been there ourselves in many workouts.
The other big reason in was so great is because the stands were packed with community members from CrossFit boxes around the world. We’re all bonded by a common goal of wanted to be healthy and fit. These are my people.
It’s hard to put any of this into words that a non-CrossFitter will understand, so I’m going to list the moments (in no particular order) I’ll remember for a long time.
Beasts of the Central East
Five of the top 10 men in the 2012 CrossFit Games came out of the Central East and the next 5 guys would probably win several other regions. We knew we were in for a treat the entire weekend. After watching the teams and women complete “Jackie” as the first event, it was time to see the men. The anticipation and excitement were firing me up. Before the final heat of men started, I had a major case of goose bumps. You could feel we were in for something special. Watch the finish to a workout that lasted over 5 minutes…
Clip taken from Rich Froning: Getting Recognized.
The top 5 times in the heat were separated by 0.6 seconds! There are Olympic events lasting under a minute that don’t finish this close.
Sportsmanship at its Finest
If you’ve ever completed a WOD at a CrossFit affiliate, you know how much support and encouragement there is amongst the athletes. The loudest cheers are often for the last to finish. To witness this same thing happening on the big stage was inspiring. The best CrossFitter on the planet, Rich Froning, would always go back and cheer on his competitors after he finished a workout. There is no other sport where this happens.
The Champ is Cool as a Cucumber
Rich Froning won the Games in 2011 and 2012. He would have won in 2010 if he didn’t fall off the rope in the final event. He’s dominating again this year. No other man stands a chance unless Rich gets injured. When you watch him compete, you can’t help but notice how relaxed he is. Even in the middle of a brutal workout, when the guys next to him look like they are about fall over, he just keeps going.
Perhaps my favorite moment of the weekend was the finish to event #6. Dan Bailey got a lead on Rich in the handstand push-ups and was able to hold it through the toes to bars. Rich didn’t pay much attention, but kept knocking out his reps. He started catching up in the shoulder to overheads and the crowd could feel it. When Rich started his 90 meters of lunges, Dan had about a 5 lunge lead, but the buzz in the crowd started growing more and more. With each step, you could see Froning closing the gap. Then Bailey had to drop the bar at around the halfway point and everyone in the building knew it was over. The champ never stopped and demolished the event record.
Here is the event in its entirety, which is about 10 minutes including the introductions. You can actually see me in the 2nd row at around 33:14 for a few seconds when they do a closeup of the crowd!
No Holding Her Back
Lindy Wall won 3 of the last 4 events and fell to her knees with her head in her hands after crushing the final workout. It was a gutsy performance, earning her 3rd place and a trip to the CrossFit Games. We’d later find out she broke her back about year ago and the Doctor told her she would never squat again. I think she proved that Doctor wrong!
I came across the following comment on a Facebook post…
I was in that arena on Saturday watching the Women’s “100” WOD. We noticed Sam Heydlauff butterflying through her C2Bs at a rapid rate and she was catching up with the leaders. Her sets of 20 went to 10, then 5. Haven’t we been there? I was keeping count behind her scorekeeper on the sidelines. She hit her 100th rep and dropped. The judge scored it a good rep. But I watched Sam shake her pony-tailed head and say “No”. She then jumped up and completed one last rep. Imagine that. After 100 wall balls, with 100 pistols to go, the judge scores you a good rep…who would blame you if you went on? Not Sam. It is one of the most impressive feats of honor I have seen in sports. And almost no one even saw it happen. Later her judge told me it was a good rep but Sam didn’t think she had hit high enough. I gave Sam a fist bump after the event and told her how impressed I was. Her reply was classic CF: “I have to live with myself.” Amazing, inspiring. Unforgettable.
I was actually watching Sam in this workout, saw the judge signal she was done with her pull-ups, and then wondered why she jumped back on the bar for another rep. When I saw the above comment it all made sense and made me proud to be a CrossFitter.
The only sport I can think of where athletes call penalties on themselves is golf. If a pro misses calling a penalty on himself, it’ll usually get corrected by the rules officials, but if not caught in time, can lead to a disqualification. In this instance, Sam’s judge scored a good rep! But she couldn’t have lived with herself, feeling as though she hadn’t completed the rep to the standard. Incredible!
So Much More…
There are so many other moments that were great, but these are the ones that stand out. I wish I could go out to California to watch the Games this year, because it’s going to be harder and harder to get tickets.
If you do CrossFit, you really have to experience an event like this for yourself. There is a taste of it at local competitions, but it’s an entirely different level at the Regionals.
For a good article, read The CrossFit Games are Awesome.
Here are some random photos and videos I took.