I woke up this morning with what felt like a hangover.
It turns out that CrossFit, like any other addictive substance, has a profound ability to leave you wondering how you got home after the previous day's events. The weekend of the Rocky Mountain Qualifier was over in a flash--unlike my workouts, which seemed to take forever--and now I feel like the day hangs a little heavy.
Over the weekend I had the honor of meeting some incredible athletes, and they turned out to be incredible people as well. I was able to reintroduce myself to some people I'd run across in the past, and they've grown considerably in both fitness and character.
Keeping track of events, competing and coaching all at the same time was pretty cool. In the past few years I've met a lot of the people who were at Front Range CrossFit for the qualifier, so it was difficult to know whom to root for this time around. I found I was rooting for everyone. Every performance was inspired and inspiring. Watching all the heats before mine instilled me with a sense of pride in knowing that I would be joining these incredible specimens on the competitive field.
To say the final men's and women's heats were intense would be the understatement of the year. As their names were called out, the women entered as proud gladiators, not fighting each other but rather battling only the gravity that held their bars to the ground. I understand physics enough to know that gravity is a law and not a force to be trifled with, but these women likely left a mark that gravity will not soon forget.
Jasmine Dever was moving so fast that it was difficult to take a picture of her. Kristen Olsen and Cori Gobell weren't too far behind, but Dever still had time to recover and then cheer for her teammates after solidifying the top spot overall. The final result? Front Range CrossFit took first, second and third overall for the women.
The one-two-three finish was incredible, but what was more incredible (and less understood) was that the Top 3 laid aside their pursuit of the title of Fittest Woman Alive to join their teammates in an attempt to unseat CrossFit Oakland as the Affiliate Cup champions. With the top spots vacated, Jenna Rettenmayer from Bridger CrossFit in Montana, and Libby DiBiase and Stacie Tovar from CrossFit Omaha, will join Krista Colson and Andrea Bell from CrossFit Rockford in the individual competition at the CrossFit Games in Aromas.
DiBiase ultimately finished well out of the Top 10 after the first workout, a three-round couplet of eight deadlifts of 195 pounds (300 for men) and a 400-meter run. Speaking with her coaches, I was told Libby was disappointed with her performance and was possibly feeling the effects of the altitude (right around 5,280 feet). In true CrossFit spirit, she didn't let any issues affect her second and third workouts. She bit and clawed for every spot she advanced, ultimately qualifying for the Games with a gritty performance.
If the women were fast, the men were stupid, especially in the final WOD, which asked the competitors to choose one of four weights and then get it overhead for a prescribed number of reps. Matt Chan, Ricky Frausto, Pat Burke all went with 75 pounds for 94 reps. Brandon Pastorek went with 95 for 74, and Kyle Kasperbauer went with 135 for 52. Chan moved the weight like it was PVC and actually ended up doing a couple of extra reps because he couldn't hear his judge tell him he was done. The volume inside was a cacophonous roar, making spoken instructions all but impossible to hear.
Frausto was moving so fast that he actually had time to chalk up three or four times. Pastorek was also tearing things up and was easy to spot with his interesting fashion sense. Maybe chalking on the face will catch on as the next big workout accessory. Both Kasperbauer and Burke handled their reps handily, but even the latter had questions on whether or not he made it into the fifth and final qualifying spot because Matthew Hathcock definitely kept it close.
While we often focus on the winners and the performances of those athletes expected to make a serious run at the Games, it should be mentioned that every single person came out to play. It's my opinion that part of CrossFit is celebrating all accomplishments as great accomplishments. This competition brought in athletes of all calibers, from the absolutely elite to the competitors who were wondering what in the name of all things holy they were doing there. The crowd cheered for all of them with equal vigor, whether they were leading the pack or just slipping in under the time cap. The fans were amazing, and for those competitors experiencing this type of competition for the first time, it meant a lot and very likely pushed us to new achievements.
My final thoughts are for all those who volunteered to judge. "Masochists" would be another name for them. As the person responsible for running the thruster/pull-up workout at last year's Games, I can speak intelligently to the effort that went into the organization and focus required to pull off an event like this.
The judges were questioned from literally the ninth deadlift of the first day. While 99 percent of the crowd was supportive and definitely more interested in watching the performances, there were those who felt it their responsibility to judge the judges. As is common in these situations, not everyone is going to be happy, and complaints were made. I have to say, however, that the judging crew led by Skip Miller handled things as supreme professionals. Everything was explained to the entire crowd, leaving no doubt as to what the judges were in fact seeing and what they were calling.
I didn't really hear any athletes complaining about judging, and I think that speaks to the job done by the judges. I can speak for my judge in the first two events. The judging was fair to say the least, but the degree to which I was pushed by a complete stranger made my performance and my experience that much more enjoyable. The same was said by all the competitors who came from CrossFit Agoge.
It was evident that the attention to detail put into the event by Skip and Jodi Miller was immense. The workouts all went off on time or early. The event staff knew where to direct all athletes, and the communication between staff and competitors was great.
All in all it was a phenomenal weekend. I'm proud of everyone who took the time, energy and effort to travel and compete, and I'm grateful to all the volunteers who helped make the event so successful.