The 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games delivered a ton of highlight reel, jaw-dropping moments and incredible feats of strength. Here are your top 4 moments in the quest to crown the Fittest Man and Woman on Earth.
Loved it! Not because I like the event in general – or at all for that matter – but because of what it did for the sport of Crossfit. What’s one of the biggest knock you constantly hear people say about Crossfit – Crossfitters can’t go long. Which is why the 2012 CF Games probably started with something like this. Congratulations and welcome to the 2012 Reebok CF Games! Now go do a triathlon! – aka the longest event in CF Games history. Granted, it was no ironman, but at the same time demonstrated the aerobic capabilities of these athletes when the majority of them rarely deviate from their ‘short intense’ crossfit workouts. Hopefully, camp Pendleton legitimized crossfit in the eyes of at least a few naysayers.
And let’s be honest, watching a marathon/triathlon/anything long and repetitive is just flat out boring tv. I’m happy HQ decided to give this event it’s own day and save all the juicy stuff for live tv over the weekend. I was perfectly content watching the highlights, no need to listen to minute-by-minute analysis of athletes taking off their flippers and switching to their bike shoes – breathtaking! The funny thing is the day every college student dreams of in Boston is Marathon Monday – the day of the Boston Marathon. Not because anyone cares about the actual race – trust me they don’t – but because it’s the start of spring after the long winter, the sun dresses come out and classes are cancelled, so better way to spend the ‘holiday’ than getting shitfaced in public and cheering on the runners as they pass through town.
And that’s how I felt about the Camp Pendleton Triathlon. Great event. But you can only watch so much before being overwhelmed by boredom…or blackout.
Unique ‘Games Only’ WODs
“…something where like technique and strength need to be married but it’s HORRIBLE…”
- Austin Malleolo
Austin hit the nail right on the head, and it’s something the Games have become famous for. Every year, Dave Castro, Tony Budding, and probably some sort of S&M enthusiast who revels in torturing others, devise some sort of workout that breaks the traditional Crossfit mold – throws away the idea of barbells and pull up rigs – and truly tests an athlete’s functional fitness. Everyone always seems to forget (or better yet neglect) the last line in the “Crossfit in 100 Words” credo – to “Regularly learn and play new sports.” In other words, to apply the functional fitness you’ve gained from Crossfit, rather than being holed up in the gym and never getting outside the box. We’ve all fallen victim to this time and time again. But as Crossfit grows and the top athletes become more and more adept at handling barbells and crushing the standard WOD templates, it becomes increasingly important to remove the things they have become so comfortable with and replace them, once again, with the unknown and unknowable. A true test of functional fitness.
The Games, and those who program them, fully understand this concept – and this year was no exception. The Games featured 3 unique events to test each athlete’s ability to adapt: the Camp Pendleton Obstacle course, the Rope-Sled event, and the Double Banger. No event better fit this mold than the Double Banger – 3 rounds for time of 50 double unders coupled with sledgehammer ‘bangers’ at varying heights. Throw out the barbells, pick up a sledgehammer and let’s see how hard and fast you can bang the shit out of these 170lb metal cinderblocks! Talk about functional fitness! A key concept in Crossfit, something that differentiates our world from that of the Globo-gym, is its understanding and reliance on core-to-extremity movements. Strength, explosiveness, power are all hip/core driven attributes, whether it be used for a max effort clean and jerk or swinging a baseball bat, power is derived through the core. The athletes that were better at utilizing this concept were the athletes who were most successful at the Double Banger. On the flip side, the athletes unable to transfer this concept from the barbell to the hammer were the ones who struggled the most. It’s like watching someone play baseball for the first time. The first time they step up to the plate and swing the bat they just lunge their arms at the ball – it looks terribly unnatural/unathletic. Same concept with the Double Banger.
The newest Rogue Fitness commercial, which debuted during the games, feature Richd Froning at his home in Tennessee. He spoke about how he liked to run in the woods, swim in ponds – apply his fitness in the real world – not be solely confined to a gym. Is it any surprise then his ability to adapt so easily to these unique WODs – it’s one of the main reason he’s retained the title Fittest on Earth.
The Clean Ladder
Honestly, who doesn’t love to watch people pick heavy shit up? Whether it’s a deadlift, snatch, clean, hell probably even a bicep curl ladder, for whatever reason, ‘ladder-style’ WODs always tend to be fan favorites at Crossfit competitions – and this year at the Games was no exception.
There are a few reasons, at least in least in my mind, why people overwhelmingly tend to be drawn towards ladders. At its core, they’re incredible simple. Beauty in simplicity, right? You have a certain amount of time (in this case 30 seconds) to make a lift. You did it? Congratulations! Now go pick up this heavier one. As a spectator, there’s no rep scheme that needs to be uncoded. No time frame that needs to be understood. It’s a straightforward, no nonsense test of strength and proficiency of movement.
They’re also extremely fast paced. No heats. No start times to worry about. Athletes are filed in one by one every 30 seconds and continue to climb the ladder until they’ve physically hit their limit. It eliminates the lull normally found in other style WODs by forgoing the time wasted between heats or for setup/sterilization. Bottom line: nonstop continuous muscle-bulging excitement!
As ridiculous as this may sound, I can’t help but think the final reason people can’t get enough of these ladder style workouts has to do with actually watching the athletes progressively climb the ladder. Each lift made builds a greater sense of anticipation for the next lift as they climb, rung by rung, up the ladder. And nothing builds a greater sense of excitement and anticipation than when an athlete steps onto the floor that you know has the potential to finish the ladder – and that was the case this year at the Games on the women’s side of the bracket…fellas step your shit up.
The men’s ladder topped out at a whopping 385lbs! And with only 30 seconds between lifts, you had to figure it would take a super hero effort to even come close to approaching that final bar (Aja Barto was my odds on favorite but even he fell a few lifts shorts). However on the women’s side of the house, the ladder topped out at a measly 235lbs – which incredibly is right in the wheelhouse for some of the top female competitors. Namely: Lindsay Valenzuela and Elizabeth Akinwale.
Everyone within the CF community knows the prowess of Lindsay at Olympic lifts and Elizabeth is without question one of the most powerful competitors in the field. So everyone knew going into the clean-ladder event, these two women had a great shot to finish the ladder – and neither disappointed!
Both finished the ladder with relative ease, with Akinwale squeaking out a few more deadlifts at the end to take the top spot. I was most impressed with the reserved, focused, and in control Lindsey as she made her way through the ladder. Known not only for her oly lifting, but equally as famous for her fiery intensity after making the lift. It wasn’t until she made that final lift, and the crowd erupted as if they too had just made the lift with her, that finally the reserved, focused, and in control Lindsey exploded with the emotion everyone has come to expect (although nothing can beat her reaction after learning she qualified for the Games ).
Did anyone else’s stomach just drop – pretty sure I just peed a little too. Let me just throw some numbers at you to start. In 2011, around 26,000 people registered and competed in the Reebok Crossfit Open. Now let’s compare that to 2012’s staggering number of about 70,000 participants! Bottom line: Crossfit is blowing up! – and those number don’t even come close to painting the entire picture. Crossfit has made tremendous growth on the affiliate and international level over the past year. So to me, it was a no brainer to end the Games with three workouts that everyone – from firebreathers to newbies – knew and could relate to. I know for a fact it got the clients at our box talking about it and comparing their times (we had recently done Fran and Isabel in the month leading up to the Games).
Here’s the deal, when you round up the best CrossFit athletes from around the world and have them compete against each other it becomes pretty difficult to grasp how fast they’re doing the workouts – they move through each movement with such power and simplicity and rarely ever look fatigued. The best times are sometimes only separated by a fraction of a second, they all operate at such a high level it’s honestly tough to comprehend – unless of course, you’re like me and get the opportunity to compete side-by-side against a Games level athlete. I’ve competed a few times in local competitions with Daniel ‘Boomsauce’ Tyminski, who finished this years Games in 14th place. Not too shabby. Well let me tell you, when you put a Games level athlete in a competition against your average joe-schmo crossfitter there is no comparison. It’s almost laughable. It’s a big reality check for those of us, myself included, who at one point have thought ‘I bet I’d be able to hang with these guys.’
So what the final workouts provided your average crossfitter was a point of reference, a benchmark, for them to judge and compare themselves too. This way everyone could feel, in some small way, what it’s like to compete against the best of the best.