The Veterans Debate - Part 1

October 7, 2009 12:00 PM

Posted in Competitors »
33 Comments » on this entry

JoshEverettStakeDrive3.jpgShould the CrossFit Games expand to include a Master's Division? What age is the prime of a CrossFitters competitive life? What events should be included in future Games and what events from Games past should be relegated to the vault? What's the best way to prepare for the CrossFit Games?

Veteran Games athletes Jason Khalipa, Josh Everett and Freddy Camacho gathered during a Level One Certification at Crossfit North Santa Cruz to discuss hot topics and recount memories from a combined 8 years of competition experience in Aromas.

In part one Jason, Josh and Freddy represent three different decades. They offer opinions on the need for a master's division and discuss the advantages for both the young and the old bull. Stay tuned for the next episode when female veteran Jolie Gentry enters the conversation.

Oh and Freddy, you were at NSC... not Aromas. What exactly was in that cup?

The Veterans Debate ... [wmv] [mov]

33 comments on this entry.

1. Kat wrote...

October 7, 2009 1:48 PM

Champ over 30... Freddy did you forget about OPT who was 33 years old when he won the games?

2. CL wrote...

October 7, 2009 3:27 PM

Josh E. wins for cutest in ANY age category!

3. Ryan at CrossFit 714 wrote...

October 7, 2009 3:35 PM


The competition is a lot stiffer these days, IMO. And the athletes will keep getting better and better. I like the idea of a 40+ division.

At 35, I think the 20 year olds have a strong advantage over me, but I still feel pretty damn good and will give them a run for their money. Guys like OPT, Josh and Jeremey Kinnick give me hope =)

Ryan at CF 714

4. swdhj wrote...

October 7, 2009 6:58 PM

Rather than an arbitrary age cutoff, you could do age grading (handicapping) as done in rowing and track & field. You would have to figure out the degree of handicapping based on well-established performance lists at sectional and regional competitions (or local/affiliate comps) in which the athlete's age is also recorded. Such a games would have to be composed of benchmark WODs for which the proper age grading has been established, so that would somewhat limit creativity when designing the competition. An advantage is that persons of any age could compete for best at any age teens through 80 year olds.

5. Tim Carr wrote...

October 7, 2009 7:06 PM

I am 45 years old. I will NEVER agree to compete in a Master's Competition. I am so sick of the weak talking about their ages. I'm not speaking of Crossfitters. I am speaking of the Sheep of this country. Of this planet.

"I have this ache or that pain, it's a bitch getting old". . ."I can't lose fat, must be the age" . . ."I have a bad back well, I'm in my 40's. . .it's a given". They are weak.

I will NEVER accept relegation to a division for the old or older.

I will train like a champion, listen to my coaches, eat like champion, listen to my coaches and I will compete.

Train hard. . .train smart. . . .eat well .. . eat smart. . . active recovery. . . strategic recovery. . . .stretch. . .work on mobility. . . .

Right now I would get positively SPANKED in the games. . . but, that's not because of my age. . . .I'm a relative rookie crossfitter. . . spent to many years eating and drinking poison and sitting on my ass watching the Electronic Income Reducer/Moron Creator(T.V.)It's not because I'm 45.

NO EXCUSES. . . .and I don't give a shit what anyone says.


Tim Carr

6. ehayes wrote...

October 7, 2009 8:02 PM

Absolutely no age groups. Fittest Person Period. I think over the next couple of years more and more affiliate challenges will come up where people can fulfill their competitive needs. A Crossfit League anybody? Organized affiliate/ individual competition just like any other sports league, uniforms, home box advantage etc.... but leave THE GAMES for the fittest.

7. gaucoin wrote...

October 7, 2009 8:04 PM

I'm with Josh with the ideas that having a Master's Division in Aromas is just too much for that same weekend AND that you could have an over-30 champion but I do see the point in having a Master's competion and I think it's a good thing.

Age-wise, I'm starting to wonder if I'm passed my prime but it's not just age that chips away at you as much as it's the other things that can come with being older. Family, multiple jobs, bills, family... I'm not saying younger people don't deal with the same issues but it all adds up, I've found, now that I'm 37. Training hard is tough for me now but, fortunately, James has helped me fine-tune what I've been doing with positive results. We'll have to see how my 37-year-old ass does next spring when sectionals/regionals roll around!

October 7, 2009 8:06 PM

While agree that the competition is getting tougher and tougher every year that doesn't change that James is the 2007 Champion. He has also proven himself in 2008 and 2009 to be a top competitor placing near the top. What other champion hs done that? Only Jolie comes to mind... another 2007 champ.

9. Chad wrote...

October 7, 2009 11:37 PM


Way to represent. I wish more people would take responsibility and own up to the fact that we have a choice. In 95% of what we do we have a choice. You either train and be the person you want to be or you don't.

No more victims. The whole victim thing is getting old.

Stay strong brother, we need more like you.....

10. Dan wrote...

October 8, 2009 4:12 AM


Not a fan of age divisions, but don't try to tell me that the average 40 year old (CrossFitter) can consistently compete with the average 30 or 20 something CrossFitter. If that were the case then the field at The Games would have been evenly distributed between age groups. Were they?

I train with two 6'2", 230#, 24 year olds and one 21 year old beast (2:18 Diane) who parties too much. I can beat these guys, but it usually has more to with the movements that give me an advantage.

One of those 24 year olds is about to become a father for the first time...why throw this in?...I guess my feeling is that age doesn't matter, but it's the responsibilities that come along with it that affect us most.

in closing...when did 40 become old?

11. A. Beaulieu wrote...

October 8, 2009 7:11 AM

Do they have a category for fastest person on earth so why should we get a category for the fittest person on earth?

Furthermore, having a category is not going well with the thinking of Crossfit. Crossfit said no matter tall you are, strong you are, OLD you are, if you have to move a rock, you have to move it!

Any sport who wants to be taking seriously (Football, Basketball, Swimming, Running....) has no age category at his top level.

If you want to be in the top fight against it!


12. Tom Seryak wrote...

October 8, 2009 11:38 AM

The argument against the age divisions is that "life doesn't care how old you are". If that is the case, then why is there a woman's division? Shouldn't everyone be lumped into the same contest regarless of age or gender to find the fittest person? I don't think so. The fittest woman is never going to be fitter than the fittest man. The fittest 50 year old is never going to be fitter than the fittest 21 year old. If that were to happen, then either the contest didn't really test fitness or the fittest people didn't show up.

IMO, Crossfit the "sport" needs to distinguish itself from Crossfit the "fitness program". The Games SHOULD crown champions of different age and gender categories. The easiest way to do this is have everyone compete together just like they do in any Marathon race. There is an overall winner and then there are division/category winners.

13. Rainer Hartmann wrote...

October 8, 2009 1:19 PM

I think an over 40 division would be great. I do see Tim's point, and you don't have to compete in that division if you so chose, go against the others and try your luck in the qualifiers, but you can't tell me that it is a lot harder for somebody in his 40's to achieve the results and recover from some of the WOD's (esp. at this years Games) compared to one in his 20's or 30's. The average age this year at the Games was 28, if I remember right, and I think there were only 2 guys over 40 that made it through the Qualifiers, that alone tells you the story. I competed in the Games in 2008 and did the Midwest Qualifier this year, and was happy that I could hang with some athletes who could have been my son (I'm almost 47 now), but seeing the performances some of the young studs showed puts it all in perspective.

14. Raphael wrote...

October 8, 2009 1:27 PM

Sports with a narrow focus have many narrow groups to put their athletes in. CrossFit with its broadest possible spectrum should have the broadest possible groups. And it has them: men and women.

15. The Pie wrote...

October 8, 2009 4:13 PM

I don't understand how having a separate competition on Thursday with an over 40's division has any effect or bearing on the "games" and its competitors. As someone who just turned 30 I think its awesome. If you don't want to compete in the senior division than don't. There are plenty of golfers who have continued to play in the PGA past their 50th birthday and others who could have but decided to shift to the seniors circuit. If it gives athletes something to train for than why the hell not. Also you will always have people wanting extra divisions or events or whatever but whats great is....HQ doesn't have to listen to any of them. To me an over 40's and an over 50's division just makes just as much sense as having a male and female competition.

I also think you are more likely to see someone win the games in their 30's than you are to see someone under 175 pounds win the games again.

The Pie
CrossFit Lions

16. ken c wrote...

October 8, 2009 6:03 PM

nothing about a masters competition diminishes the overall competition champion. crossfit is still a relatively small group of fitness nuts and aromas and the games are the mecca. people want to gather there. there's an affiliate competition on friday, let the old guys compete on thursday. more participation is better.

freddy need not be concerned what thirty year olds complain about because you need only look at pro sports. not many over forty guys playing football and basketball. forty is not a arbitrary cutoff, it is a real break point in how well an athlete can recover. i'm sure whoever may win an over forty competition would not seriously claim that they could win the overall. if so they should have qualified for the overall. have an over forty division and have some fun.

tim carr

like your enthusiasm but you might want to cut back on the koolaid man.

17. Tim Carr wrote...

October 8, 2009 7:20 PM

I'm telling you the age thing is an excuse. With the training and nutritional methodologies today. . . .40 years is NOTHING. . . Most 40 somethings who are training hard and complaining about not being able to recover are simply out of shape or haven't been training long enough. Or don't sleep enough, eat effectively, stupidly over train, don't listen to their coaches etc. . . So instead of looking at themselves in the mirror and taking responsibility, they blame age. . . .thus giving themselves, "an out".

Stating that athletes like Jason Khalipa performed well 2 years in a row due to his age, I believe diminishes how hard Jason trained. I read his training program on here. He was hitting it 5 times per day then 4 then 3. 5-7 mile runs in prep. for games. He didn't make a comeback worthy of Real Sports because of his age. . .that comeback was ALREADY determined due to his training and preparation. He was PREPARED to come back. . .not born to comeback.

This debate could linger for a millenia.

Talking about age give credence to the weak.

At Crossfit Tribe here in Jersey, all I need to do is show up. . .shut up. . . and listen to people who are smarter than me and more experienced. My coaches.

And Ken C. . . .I only drink high sugar substances like kool aid post workout. LOL!! To the chagrin of Steve Liberati. LOL!!

October 8, 2009 8:15 PM

I must admit I find opinions as strong as Tim and Chad's to be a little extreme. Nobody is forcing anybody to compete in any division.

I hope they are not arguing that a 42 year old can become as fit as a 25 year old. Diminishing physical capacity with ageIt isn't an excuse, it isn't being defeatist, it is being honest. It is a fact. No amount of positive thinking, tough talking and balls out training will get them there.
In the same way that telling people who read the Secret that just because they write down their goals and really really believe they're going to come true....they are unlikely to become multi millionaires next week, there is no point in a 42 year old believing they can win the Games.

What I think this comes down to are two questions

- does it demean the main Games to have age related competitions? My belief is that it doesn't.


- is there any worth to running a competition to find the fittest 40 year old in the world? My belief is that there is.

Freddie Camacho's comments are also very true. It will be brilliant for our sport and for affiliates around the world for the age group games to go ahead. It will provide a purpose, goal and stimulatin for thousands of people to work harder at their fitness than ever before.

And that is a good thing.

Whether they are run separately or at the main Games is an organisational decision. But they should and will go ahead and that is a good thing

19. gaucoin wrote...

October 8, 2009 8:25 PM

Phew, thank you, ken c. Unless you have lived a very clean life (your whole life), are independently wealthy, childless and possibly have access to a hyperbaric chamber then there's just no way a 40+ year-old body can take the abuse of someone in their early 20's. It's nuts to suggest otherwise. There's hardcore and then there's hard-headed.

October 8, 2009 9:43 PM


"Talking about age give credence to the weak"

So...every 90 year old who can't do a sub 3 fran is a pussy?

Come's great to have positive thinking, but you have to admit that our physcial capabilities diminish with age.

21. Jason wrote...

October 9, 2009 1:03 PM

In my opinion I think that it is totally feasible for a 40 year old athlete to win the games...We maybe just havent seen that person yet....The past winners of the Games are extremely fit athletes but to say that they are the fittest on earth is absurd...they are the fittest athletes who happen to have found CrossFit. The elite CrossFitters of the world are now very big fish in a very small pond. There are certainly athletes out there with a potential for much greater horsepower who just have not found Crossfit...yet. There is no doubt that physical capabilities dimish with age but if your starting point is that much higher then the rest of the field......

22. freddy c._one world wrote...

October 9, 2009 8:31 PM

I hope everyone is clear on the fact that I will attempt to qualify for the real CrossFit Games until I am in my grave. Any person who has a true competitor spirit knows exactly what I am talking about.

A forty year old competition would be a hoot though, right??


First off, I lay you money that if their was a forty year old competition, every single competitor in it will likely have attempted to qualify for the regular CrossFit Games. If you can "score it" and there is the possibility to "win it," then you should try it yourself. I assure you that they would all be elite 40+ year old CrossFitters, and not a single one of them would be whining about age, being sore, or whatever.

I appreciate your vigor. But really, age means nothing?

You said:

"With the training and nutritional methodologies today, 40 years is NOTHING. Most 40 somethings who are training hard and complaining about not being able to recover are simply out of shape or haven't been training long enough. Or don't sleep enough, eat effectively, stupidly over train, don't listen to their coaches etc."

Your very statement proves just how ridiculous your theory of "age means nothing" really is. When I was in my 20's I never had to worry about any of that stuff, and I was still able to perform at a capacity equal to or higher than the work capacity I can do now.

So why don't I sleep better, eat better, stretch more, and work "smarter" now? It helps that I can still pump out some decent numbers ;-) When my work capacity starts to take a noticeable turn for the worse, I'll consider changing my lifestyle. But for now, I take into consideration that I have been training vigorously for over 31 years. Training and life for me need to be fun. I just don't want to work that hard to "be young," so excuse me if every now and then I happen to blurt out the fact that I miss being in my twenties.

Stay at it Tim. It's working good for you :-)

23. bingo wrote...

October 10, 2009 8:41 AM

Tom Seryak:" Crossfit the SPORT needs to separate itself from Crossfit the FITNESS program." Wonderful insight in that nugget. In the same manner Crossfit (and Crossfitters) needs to be comfortable with the business aspects of Crossfit the sport. Freddy is quite right that a Master's division is a very useful tool in the affiliate universe to enhance the affiliate business, just as we have seen with the Affiliate cup.

Ken C offers more wisdom--it's fun! The sectionals, regionals, Affiliate Cup, and Master's division all combine to increase the fun, to increase the sheer number of Crossfitters who can aspire to the top of the Sport of Crossfit. Philosophically how is that anything but good?

We must all keep in mind that these undertakings are monumental in their use of resources. Money, HQ staff time, technical and bandwidth assets. Crossfit Inc. is not ESPN or the USOC (thank God for THAT, eh?). The three months leading into the Games absolutely consume these CF assets. What effect will adding the Master's competition have in this domain? It remains to be seen, for sure, but we will doubtless have a myriad of complaints and accusations of conspiracy leveled this year as we did last, by people who fail to remember that this entire endeavor was a barbecue with 50 or 75 folks in 2007.

There are natural breakpoints in age-grouped competitions. Here we should probably see 40+ and 50+ because on average these are meaningful transitions with historical underpinings in multiple other competitions and sports. Who will win in the contest between 40 year olds? OPT with 10 years of CF, or the mythic super-athlete that we always see invoked here, out there in the world and not yet introduced to CF? More exciting, still, who will win the Games proper? A 30 year old Jason Khalipa with 8 years of CF under his belt, or a 23 year old Connor Martin (or indeed, a 21 year old Keegan Martin) with 12 years of CF?

Even without the external factors cited a couple of times above, more life than age, our bodies rise, peak, plateau on that peak, and descend, an unescapable reality born of flesh and blood, borne more gracefully by a Crossfitter. Why not give the 50+ Crossfitter a platform to demonstrate this?

24. Marko wrote...

October 10, 2009 11:33 PM

Bingo- Well put.

Freddy C- Couldn't agree more.

I'm actually just tired of the fact that someone acknowledging changes as they age is viewed as a sign of weakness, or "Giving In". I'm sorry but Tim's post is insulting and naive.

Step off the soap box for the forty and over group because you do not represent me.

I've been an elite athlete my whole life, and trained as one that entire time. I've eaten Paleo since before it was a book. I've always taken care of my body because I've expected a lot of it in competition.

I didn't qualify for the games..

Not because I didn't eat right, sleep, and train hard. I did all of those things and came in 10th at my regionals. I literally did everything my 20+ years of training taught me, but it wasn't enough.

My 40 year old body isn't the same machine it was in my mid 20's. It doesn't make me weak.

As a matter of fact what I'd like to know is: Who is the fittest man in the world at a 35 to 45 age group? At 45+ ?

I don't want to take anything from the young competitors that finished in the top 10 at Aromas this year, but I'll bet anything that in 10 years they're going to see some changes in their bodies. Some of those changes are going to make them less competitive.

I think everyone would be shocked to see the athletes that would show in a 35- 40 year Master Class. I assure you they wouldn't look that different from the younger guys, but this group of athletes more than likely will be a couple slots out of qualifying and never get to compete.

It's unfortunate because one of the truths of age is I have to work harder to get the improvements I got with less effort in my 20's.

This has nothing to do with attitude, work ethic, or diet. It's just the natural process.

I'm certainly going to wok my ass off to qualify, but I can't help but wonder if the fittest man on the planet won't qualify because the measuring stick will exclude him.

What I mean by that is this

What if there were a Master Class (35-45 or 40 +) and this year the winner set times that couldn't be beat for the next ten years, or won 4 consecutive games in a row. This individual when taking into account biological differences of age may in fact be the fittest man on the planet.

But...He may come in 7th at regionals and won't even qualify.

I'd love to see a Master Class and would participate with pride.

25. Wade Smith wrote...

October 13, 2009 3:16 AM

If there is a Master's division, better in my opinion for 50+ rather than 40+. That seems a more realistic cut-off when it comes to age-related injuries, slow healing and/or recovery, medical issues, etc.

26. ken c replied to comment from Wade Smith...

October 14, 2009 11:53 AM

not really wade. take a look at high intensity pro sports. not many 40 year olds. not too many 40s in the olympics either. dara torres was the much publicised exception and in all of her interviews she spoke extensively about recovery being the biggest obstacle in her training. daily deep tissue massage and so on just to be able to workout productively the next day.

27. bingo wrote...

October 14, 2009 5:46 PM

I have zero inside information, but I anticipate a single age class this year, followed by two divisions going forward. 40+ and 50+ are good cut-offs IMO. I agree with Ken C.

28. Lee wrote...

October 18, 2009 1:45 PM

Being one of the older folks, just hearing that there was going to be a Masters level event was a wonderful feeling.

I hear folks like Tim, and I cannot imagine, no matter how hard I train or eat being able to compete against a 20 or 30 something over the course of a 8 events in 2 days competition. Thinking like this just does not make sense on a variety of levels. But let's just stick with basic human physiology. It ain't posible....

I'm no elite athlete, but at 49+, I train hard, eat correctly and do what I need to do to compete with the 20 and 30 somethings at my gym. Do I win occasionally? Sure. Could I compete in a long term event(s) with the kids? Nope. I have to come to the gym early, and am usually the last one out. Why? I need more time to stretch and I also try to do a little extra daily so I can stay competitive. The reality is, I have been an athlete of some kind my whole life, and unfortunately as I have aged, my performance has gone down (Of course the shoulder surgery and the hip replacement doesn't help, but cannot use that as an excuse). Doesn't mean I train any less or use age as an excuse. Quite the contrary.

But let's move away from the argument of age and talk about the business of CF. More competitors means more fans. More fans mean more money. And instead of a friend or two coming to the games to support their guy, imagine the draw if the gym friends came as well as the older folks and their families. Glassman is about making money. More people do CF, whether at the games or around the world, he gets more money. And let's not even talk about the older folks who certainly have the means for more private lessons, and self improvement than the younger folks in CF. It just makes sense from a business perspective.

I do like the idea of 3 divisions by age though (primarily because a 40 year old has better capacity than a 50 year old). I really like the idea of 35-45 and 45+. The reality is, whatever CFHQ decides, I now have a chance to compete.

Freddy, I have to tell you, your comments about using the Masters division as a fall back sounded horrible. I'm hopeful you said that kiddingly, because if not, you play right into Tim's comments about excuses.

I am a warrior. Gristled and battle scarred, but a warrior nonetheless. Having an opportunity to potentially compete in the sport I love against my peers is absolutely an amazing thing.

October 21, 2009 9:44 AM

I admire your courage, commitment, and dedication although I 100% disagree with your conclusion. Yes, a 40+ individual can train hard and do well at the games but there is a reason why we don't see many 40+ individuals competing at the highest level in athlete arenas around world, especially athlete arenas involving strength and speed. As much as I hate to admit it, strength and speed are the first to go as we age. It is completely unfair to have 40,50,60 year old athletes completing with 20 and 30 year old athletes. Now I'm not saying that life is fair because it's not. And if I don't qualify for the games in it's current format, I will never use my age as an excuse. But as a crossfit affiliate owner, it will make more business to make the games more accessible to all elite athletes young and old. Triathlon, a sport that has seen tremendous growth even during these tough economic times, uses age group divisions and their success is undenialbe.

30. Frank replied to comment from Tim Carr...

October 22, 2009 9:17 AM

31. Frank wrote...

October 22, 2009 9:20 AM

Fittest on the planet means just that.
If there is a Masters event, it should be separate from the CF Games.
I love CF and do the WOD usually 4-5 days a week at age 59.

32. Bill R. wrote...

October 23, 2009 5:49 AM

From what I picked up from watching a recent video in the CF Journal, Coach wants this to happen.

I've read through these comments and tend to agree with Frank. The CF Games should crown the Fittest on the planet. I also agree there should be a 'Masters' competition, and making it a separate event might be interesting.

If it were separate, Tim and others like him could simply ignore the subject entirely. Those more realistic in their thinking could choose whether or not to support the event and let the CF community decide if it has merit. My guess is that in a few years it would become as or more popular than the Games.

Bingo mentions 40+ and 50+ as two natural break-points in age group competitions. I'd vote for a single 45+ group so I wouldn't have to wait two years to go head to head with friend Dr. White!

33. >30 wrote...

November 27, 2009 3:54 AM

If you look at statistical norms of elite athletes to elite athletes, couch potatoes to couch potatoes, or any other apples to apples comparison you will find that 20 year olds will outperform 40 year olds without (statistical) exception. They will have higher VO2 max, more flexibility, faster metabolic recovery times, and be better in just about any measure of fitness that you can dream up. I don't want to discourage the "dream the impossible dream" attitude of my 30+ comrades, but these are just biological facts.