The last six weeks I have participated in a worldwide fitness competition called the “Crossfit Games Open.” For the uninitiated, it is the first step in qualifying for the Crossfit Games, to be held at the Home Depot Center in L.A in July.
Crossfit boasts that the winner of the Games is the “world’s fittest man/woman,” and while that might or might not be true, it’s still a pretty gnartly sport (see video below for a brief description).
I, along with somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 other souls, decided to enter the arena this year and compete in the Open. Since only the top 60 in each region (over 800 in my region!) make it to the next step, I harbored no illusions of being able to make it this year, yet still I competed.
Why? Just cuz, that’s why….to me, that’s reason enough. For those that know me, you know I have this inexplicable drive to put myself up against the best of the best in pretty much anything that suits my fancy. Call it a competitor’s itch, or the “boy inside” of me still trying to prove himself, it is what it is.
This year’s Open was quite a growing experience for me, both physically and mentally. I’ve remarked several times to co-competitors that it’s as if Crossfit “knew me” when they came up with the workouts: if one were to list my top five strengths and top five weaknesses in movements, four out of the five weaknesses came up in prominent places, whereas two of the five strengths came up, and they came up in such a way that the weaknesses significantly impacted my ability to take advantage of the strengths.
I have therefore been exposed…easily. This has pushed me to “wrestle with the goats” like never before (“goat”=crossfit term for extreme weaknesses), and I don’t count on letting up on that any time soon. It’s all a character building process, and I embrace it willingly.
Given the way my weaknesses came up, though I did want to finish higher in the standings, I didn’t end up too bad: 185 out of over 800 in my region. Coulda been better, but coulda been worse…a good starting point, lets put it that way. This isn’t a balm to calm the pain of defeat by any means–I’m still gonna train just as hard and I’m still just as driven–it’s simply a balanced acknowledgement of reality.
Secondly, the camaraderie between my fellow teammates has been “legit.” There’s something about suffering together that brings you close. Reminds me of wrestling a lot. The social aspect of this is actually one of the better elements of the whole experience, one that is essential to Crossfit.
Thirdly, ever since the beginning of the competition, there’s been a huge kerfuffle around the question of the formatting: has the online nature of the competition encouraged too much cheating? I listened intently to the whole debate, and I think the good part is that it brought awareness and communal pressure to maintain integrity. At points I even expressed my own doubts about the legitimacy of some of the results.
However, folks kept on and on and on about it. After a few weeks, my own doubts started to give way to belief when confronted with some of the evidence….it looks like a lot of the crazy scores were legit afterall. While it’s not a crazy thought to believe that some cheating has occured, and that it has affected the standings some, there came a point at which I said, “ok guys, that’s enough.”
The fact is that after a while, it all became noise, simple complaining. Stop typing your blog post, pick up your barbell, lift the friggin weight, and put a cork in it.
After a while, what started out as a legitimate point of concern devolved into a considerable amount of finger pointing. Some people just couldn’t fathom that athletes other than themselves were doing as good as was stated on the leaderboard. One such competitor expressed disbelief that some of those that usually compete in the intermediate division (a division lower than the division he competes at…the intermediate division, many times, features lower weights and standards than the “Rx,” or advanced, division) defeated him in some of the events.
Consider: 1) I saw video proof of some of those amazing scores, 2) other than the fact that those scores were crazy high, I have no other reason to doubt. This, to me, doesn’t seem a substantial reason to call foul. In absence of evidence, give the benefit of the doubt. 3) Elite guys whom I positively knew weren’t cheating put up many of those crazy scores. It was therefore very humanly possible, and they’re not unbeatable. It’s not that much of a stretch to think there’s someone undiscovered–even a few people–out there in the world that can beat them, and 4) as far as the intermediate-beating-the advanced guy, I’ve seen that happen too. It’s reality. In fact, in the last local competition, I myself defeated the above competitor in question once, and came within a hair of doing it almost twice…both tasks employed the same standards across divisions.
That doesn’t make me a better competitor or more fit. He’s one helluva athlete, and I respect him lots. He’s a competitor par excellance. All the above means is that on that particular day and that particular task, I did better.
Hey, it happens. No big deal.
In fact, the shoe was on the other foot with me a time or two during this current competition. Brand new crossfitters beat me. It was hard for me to believe, except that they were right next to me doing it. I’ve seen rooks take down big dogs enough in my other sporting careers to see that it’s paltry evidence of cheating.
All I’m trying to say is that average athletes beating elite ones does not stretch credulity. It can be very humbling to admit that, but the fact that it happens is not evidence of widespread cheating.
In the end, I have to give up my own complaints and acknowledge that the best of the best are the guys that rose to the top in the end. Yeah, there were some glitches along the way, but for the first time up to bat in such a huge venture like this, Crossfit nailed it.
So hey, life is grand. Crossfit is cool. My teammates are beasts. Regionals are in a month. Let’s get it on.