CrossFit and the CrossFit Games are making an appearance like never before. We have Reebok throwing down some mad cash and a jump from 26,000+ competitors in the 2011 CrossFit Games Open (first year for online competition) to 60,000+ this year, 2012. That is just insane. But before we move forward and CrossFit takes over the world, I would like to take a look back.
Let’s Look Back
A look back to what I consider the first CrossFit Games. Yes, there were CrossFit Games in 2007 and 2008, no offense to those competitors, but it was not the CrossFit Games. It was a CrossFit competition. 2009 was the first year they kicked things up a notch, and in my opinion there hasn’t been a games as challenging or as down to the CrossFit roots as the 2009 CrossFit Games. This is a time when you could go to CrossFit.com and click on “store” and it didn’t take you to Reebok’s website. No, this was a time before shoes, special gloves, and title sponsorship. This was The 2009 CrossFit Games.
” ’09 scares me. I’ve heard war stories about that one.”
-Rich Froning Jr.
2nd place 2010 CrossFit Games
1st place 2011 CrossFit Games
When asked about the 2009 CrossFit Games.
2009 CrossFit Games Events
The following excerpts are from the CrossFit Journal.
3-2-1… Go! The competitors were off on a brutal 7-kilometer, varied-terrain run. The stakes were high. The last athletes to finish the run had to go first on the max-deadlift event, and the 10 athletes at the bottom after two events were eliminated from the competition.
This event was the first of its kind: athletes were tasked with lifting one heavy deadlift every 30 seconds until they failed. Athletes started at 315 lb., and if they continued successfully, traveled through 20 bars, each 10 lb. heavier than the last, until the final 505-lb. bar was reached. And, this was about an hour after that brutal 7-kilometer run.
“If it takes you 30 minutes to do the run, you have an hour break, because at 10 o’clock on the dot, we’re starting the deadlift,” Dave Castro said to the competitors before the run. “If it takes you an hour to do the run, you have 30 minutes to rest. If it takes you 75 minutes, you’re out of the competition.”
The field was narrowed after the second event, with 10 of the 74 men’s competitors failing to advance. Next up was the sandbag hill sprint, the event that would turn out to be the most painful despite its short duration. The task was simple: sprint roughly 170 meters uphill while carrying two 35-lb. sandbags.
The hopper model tests an athlete’s ability to perform proficiently at random physical challenges. Along those lines, the fourth event required driving a four-foot-long blunt stake into evenly packed ground with an 8-lb. sledgehammer. To complicate matters, the stake drive was bookended by 500-meter rows.
After four events, ten more athletes were eliminated. The 54 remaining competitors had one last chance to become one of the “Sweet 16” to compete on Sunday. The Couplet was an extraordinary test:
3 Rounds for time of:
30 Wallballs (20lb MB to a 10.5′ target)
30 Squat snatches (75lbs, movement initiates with barbell below the knees)
20min time limit.
The first event of Day 2 was simple: Find a one-rep-max snatch. The rules of the event were unique. Eight athletes lifted at a time. They had 10 minutes in the arena to establish the heaviest successful lift possible. They could perform as many reps as they wanted within the allotted time. The lift was considered successful as long as no contact was made with the body above the hips (meaning it couldn’t be a clean and jerk). Power snatches, muscle snatches, press-outs and knees contacting the ground were all permitted.
Event 7 was an eight-minute CrossFit sprint. After six events, the top six men were in a tight race. Moe Kelsey trailed first-place Tommy Hackenbruck by only two points. Mikko Salo was eight behind Tommy.
Max rounds and reps in 8 Minutes of:
4 Handstand pushups (on parallettes, no kipping allowed)
8 KB swings (2 pood)
12 GHD situps
The chipper format is a classic CrossFit structure. You have a large number of tasks that you complete in order. They are designed so that as you fatigue in one task, you switch up the demands and keep going. There is a cumulative effect of course, but the variety allows for incredible metabolic demand.
The variety also becomes a great equalizer. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and when the workout has ten elements, both are likely to be featured. The final event of the 2009 Games was exactly that:
15 reps 155lb BB squat clean
30 Toes to bar
30 Box jumps 24″ box
15 Muscle ups
30 PushPress /PushJerk 40lb DBs
30 Double Unders
15 reps 135lb Thruster
300′ OH Walking lunge with 45lb plate
Mikko Salo dominated this event. His time of 19:46 was almost two full minutes ahead of second-fastest Jason Khalipa’s 21:35.
What is to be said?
The 2009 CrossFit Games were tough, the toughest. The competition was held at Dave Castro’s Ranch in Aromas, California. A fitting place for a test of fitness that trains the unknown and unknowable. Plenty of hills, uneven terrain, and surrounded by nature. That is how CrossFit should be tested. It is not as easy for spectators to attend , or for ESPN to get their wire cams setup, but it awesome. Mikko Salo won the 2009 CrossFit Games and there is a lot to be said about that.
While CrossFit still searches for the fittest man and woman for each year, I do not think they will ever have a competition as fitting as the 2009 CrossFit Games. CrossFit is for training the unknown and unknowable, for life. It’s the simple difference of a track athlete running 400m on a perfectly flat surface, and a solider running up a 400m hill while under fire. We don’t train for perfection and perfect conditions should not be necessary for the elite athletes to thrive.