CrossFit got its start in Northern California, and the region remains one of the premier proving grounds for talented CrossFit athletes.
On an overcast and rainy May 2 and 3, 2009, 142 men and 51 women descended upon Aromas, California, to take part in the Northern California Regional Qualifiers for the CrossFit Games. The Ranch at Aromas--which will also serve as the venue for the 2009 Games-- provided a scenic backdrop and an opportunity to use the landscape for workouts that normally can't be accomplished in or near most CrossFit gyms.
The competition spanned two days and comprised three workouts: two on Saturday and one on Sunday. The first workout combined 500 meters of rowing, 30 burpees and 10 reps of moving a barbell from the shoulder to overhead at a weight of 165 pounds for men, 95 for women. Designed as a sprint against the clock, the workout was capped at 10 minutes.
The second workout tested the athletes' abilities to generate sustained intensity over a 10-minute period, requiring as many repetitions as possible of muscle-ups and moving a barbell from the ground to the shoulders (cleans). The loads were 185 pounds for men and 105 for the women. Unlike some CrossFit met-con workouts, the number of repetitions of each movement was left to the discretion of the athlete, though the men had to complete a minimum of 10 muscle-ups and 10 cleans. For women, four muscle-ups and four cleans were required. Scoring was based upon the total number of reps completed.
After the first day, the top 40 men and top 20 women advanced to the final workout, affectionately titled Catch-22. Performed against a running clock, the workout leveraged the challenging terrain of The Ranch and generated a great deal of interest in the CrossFit community.
As in the classic Joseph Heller novel for which the workout was named, absurdity was a prominent theme in CrossFit's Catch-22. The WOD began with 22 deadlifts (315 pounds for men, 185 for women), and then the athletes ran to pick up two dumbbells (45 pounds for men, 25 for women) that would accompany them on a 200-meter farmer's trek up the steep inner loop on the front side of The Ranch. Slightly after the crest of the hill, each athlete executed 22 thrusters before carrying the dumbbells back down and depositing them where they picked them up. Next came 22 chest-to-bar pull-ups, followed by a 300-meter run up the longer and steeper outer loop. Near the crest of the hill, the athletes were rewarded with 22 overhead squats (95 pounds for men, 65 for women) before hurtling down the steep slope of the outer loop to the finish.
For extra effect, a slow but steady rain fell for most of the heats, making pull-ups a difficult affair and rendering the already unsure footing of the outer-loop descent especially slippery.
As expected, the athletes contesting the NorCal Qualifiers rose to the challenge and turned in inspiring performances, demonstrating their abilities to endure great physical discomfort while performing multiple complex movements. They also displayed unequaled sportsmanship along the way. The competitors were truly a credit to themselves and the CrossFit community.
The Top 5 women's finishers in order were Jocelyn Forest, Candace Hamilton, Breanne Feudale, Elyse Umeda and Apollonia Helm. For the men, the Top 5 were Jeffrey Leonard, Darren Rosten, Justin Riley, Joey Warren and Angel Orozco.