The CrossFit Games is one of my favorite times of the year. The CF season is quite long- Hundreds of thousands of individuals from all over the entire world complete 5 different workouts over 5 weekends in the CF Open beginning in late February. The top athletes from 17 regions around the world move on to compete in a three day competition at regionals. From regionals, the top 40 men, women, and teams along with 80 teenagers and 240 masters move on to compete for 4 days at the CF Games. The CF Games are like the Olympics to CrossFitters. It is THE competition to determine who is the “Fittest on Earth”.
This year the Games were quite different. For the past 10 years, the Games have been held in Carson, California. This past year, CF headquarters announced there would be a new home for the Games for the next 3 years-Madison, Wisconsin. We had planned to skip this year, but with this news, Josh and I decided (along with a group of our friends from the gym) that we could more easily afford a trip up there to enjoy the long weekend. To save money, we drove up to Madison and rented a suite for all of us to share. We only bought Festival passes ($100) for the Games events this year also. Festival passes gave us access to the outside daytime events, as well as the masters and teenagers workouts. We were supposed to have access to the daytime Coliseum events as well, but for some reason that changed and we could only see the outside events. In past years, we’ve bought Festival+Coliseum passes which get you into the outside and inside events, but those tickets were starting at about $335 per ticket! We just couldn’t justify spending that with all the other vacations we have planned for the year.
No one in the group was able to head up on Wednesday, so we ended up leaving Thursday afternoon. Ashley picked Josh and I up, then we headed up to Columbus to pick up Jake and Leslie. The drive up was rather uneventful- unfortunately we timed it pretty poorly and ended up hitting after work rush hour traffic in Chicago and we got stuck behind a car accident which added about 45 minutes extra to our trip. Thankfully, though, we all packed food and drinks so we only had to make a couple stops for bathroom breaks and filling up the gas tank.
Check out our awesome group of NoBulls!
We finally made it to Madison around 10 pm and checked into our hotel. I have no idea how we got so lucky, but the hotel I booked was fantastic. It was only about a 5 minute walk to Alliant Energy Center where the Games were being held- you could see the venue from our hotel room. Our suite had two queen beds and a pull out couch, so there was enough room for all of us to sleep comfortably. And the best part was that our room had a stove top with two burners, a microwave, and a full size fridge! It was so perfect because everyone in our group is doing the nutrition challenge with our gym, trying to eat healthy, and we were all trying to save money! After we got our stuff dropped off in the room, we drove over to Walmart to stock up on food for the weekend. We definitely didn’t eat the yummiest food (lunch meat, canned tuna, green beans, and steamer bags of broccoli and brussels sprouts), but it was quick, fairly inexpensive, and easy. You could tell the Games were being hosted close by, as I have never seen so many fit, healthy people walking around Walmart before! By the time we got back to our hotel room, our friend Joel had arrived! It had been almost 9 months since any of us had seen him and we were sooooo happy to be reunited with our Joelybear!
Friday morning we woke up bright and early to eat breakfast and watch the events for the day. The first three events happened on Thursday- there was a run/swim workout, a cyclocross bike workout, and a muscle-up/snatch workout. I wish we had been able to go up to watch those workouts in person, but they were still very exciting on Facebook Live videos. We ventured through vendor village on the way to North Park for the first event. Vendor village had a lot of great booths, but it seemed smaller this year than when it was in California. And unfortunately with us arriving on Friday instead of Thursday when it opened, a lot of vendors were already sold out! I couldn’t believe they didn’t have more inventory with the amount of people they knew would be coming to watch the Games. One of my favorites was the Saddleback Leather booth where we took selfies with a cow for a chance to win a free backpack (unfortunately none of us won, sad face). #StrongestBagsOnEarth
The first event on Friday was an outdoor obstacle course race. The weather was terrible! It was around 55°F, cloudy, windy, and slightly misting. Thank God we were all prepared and had packed long sleeves, sweat pants, and rain jackets or it would have been even more miserable. The obstacle course was pretty fun to see with log walks, a rope wall to climb, an army crawl, rope swings, hurdles, and more.
After we watched the teams and individuals complete the obstacle course, we headed back inside vendor village to walk around. The highlight of my weekend there was that I got free Kill Cliff drinks for wearing a Kill Cliff shirt. And Zevia was handing out free sparkling waters, energy drinks, and their soda! I definitely drank my weight in Kill Cliff and Zevia.
The remainder of our Friday was spent walking back and forth to the hotel to eat food and laying on the concrete floor in the beer garden to watch the Coliseum events. It was really quite disappointing to pay $100 and only be able to see one team/individual event live and have to watch the rest of the events on TV…which I could have stayed home and done on my comfy couch. We made the best of it though and had a big group snuggle party on the floor watching the team max clean and jerk event and the individual max snatch event. Hands down, the max lift events are my favorite every time! There is just something about seeing people pick up some really heavy weight and throw down, especially when they PR! There were some crazy strong people- one of the guys on a team (I wish I could remember which one) opened(yes, opened!) with a 347# clean and jerk…and went on to hit 367# and 377#! And a girl on another team was push jerking around 230#! Just so impressive. On the individual side, my favorite lifts were from Chyna Cho and Cassidy Lance-McWherter who both PR’ed their snatches and were just having so much fun! Even in the beer garden, you could hear the roar of excitement from the crowd with every lift made.
Saturday morning was much better weather for the outside event. It was sunny and in the low 70s, with a nice breeze. The team event involved a (I think it weighed around 1000 lbs or more) sled drag backwards and push forwards. The individual event, “Strongman’s Fear”, involved heavy yoke carries (420#/300#), farmer’s carries (170#/120#), and sled drags (265#/220#) with handstand walking in between the carries. It looked really hard, but was really fun to watch.
After those events were done, we walked around vendor village some. I met Nicole Biscuiti (founder of the Chestee sports bras), taught Jake how to take a selfie, and of course I stocked up on Kill Cliff and Zevia!
We ate lunch back at the room and then came back and watched the bar muscle-up clean ladder event from the roof of the RomWod booth. This event was awesome- the weight of the cleans increased throughout the workout and a lot of people PR’ed at the end of the ladder! I can’t imagine PR’ing at the Games, let after so many events over that past few days.
We also spent a lot of time at the Assault Fitness booth trying out all their equipment and their NormaTec systems. I’ve got to say, the NormaTec leg system was super relaxing and I wouldn’t mind having one of those at home…if I can just find an extra $1500 laying around first lol.
Sunday was the final day of the Games. It was a little cloudy outside, but the temperature was great and we were able to get pretty decent seats to watch the “Madison Triplet” event (it involved running, sandbag cleans, and burpees over straw bales…only in the Midwest, am I right?). We ate a quick lunch at our hotel room, goofed around in vendor village for a bit, then headed to the age group pavilion to watch the final master’s events. The master’s group ranges from 35 to 60+ years old. And they. are. amazing. The event we watched was Diane+Final (Diane is handstand push-ups and deadlifts, while the final event was rope climbs and thrusters). There were several athletes in the 50-54 age group that beat the times of the 35-39 year olds! It was such an inspiration to watch. And they’re all super ripped and have abs! There’s hope for me yet, you guys, just give me another 20 years!
We watched the 2223 interval event (rope climbs, calories on the SkiErg, and overhead squats) at the Assault Fitness booth. While we were hanging out we just happened to look across the way to see Nick Shaw! Nick is the founder of RP Strength, the diet and hypertrophy templates Josh and I follow. We had to go over and talk to him, of course. We wouldn’t be where we are today with our nutrition and training without him.
We ended our Games weekend eating dinner in the room and watching the final event on our phones through Facebook Live. The final event was so exhilarating and quick and a race to the finish. I absolutely loved it! It was super neat to watch when the winners were announced and how emotional it all was for them- they invest so much time and sacrifice so much to compete at the Games and it’s over in the blink of an eye. While this year’s Games wasn’t entirely what I expected from a spectator experience, it was definitely fun and full of laughs. The Games will be held in Madison for at least the next two years and if we happen to go back, we’re going to splurge and spend the couple extra hundred dollars for the Coliseum passes for sure. If you go, make sure you get the Festival+Coliseum passes too!
Don’t let that face fool you, he definitely missed me!