Friday 7/31

For time:
Deadlift @ 275/185
Toe 2 Bar
After each round perform 30 Double Under



When this article dropped I had a feeling I would be addressing some of the criticisms of the author at some point. After reading all the way through it and reading some of the responses of our members I feel like I have to write my thoughts out.  You’ll see my responses to Mr. McCarty’s article in blue.

From Breaking Muscle

Survival of the Survivors: The CrossFit (Hunger) Games

His was not a sport constrained by a longstanding set of rules of play. It was spectacle for spectacle’s sake, and he knew the only way to sustain interest was to make every jump more outrageous.


Shortly before the jump, Knievel appeared on the Tonight Show, fully decked out in a fur cape, and carrying a diamond-studded walking stick. He was at the height of his clown-as-royalty act.


The Games

In 2007, the CrossFIt games got underway in Aromas California, consisting of three workouts over two days. Eight years later, the Games spans five days, with four of those being competition days, and a dozen workouts.


In the eight years between, every successive competition has been longer and more spectacular. It has gone from three events in 2007 to four in 2008, eight in 2009, and nine in 2010 over three days. And then we have 2015 where athletes began their competition week on Wednesday with an arduous ocean swim and concluded it Sunday night with, as I write this: “TBA.”

The annual test of fitness that is the CrossFit Games have become longer and more spectacular, not because of some need to continually up the ante, as Mr McCarty seems to think; but rather as a need to continue to test the limits of the athletes. As they have increased their levels of fitness, so must the test they undergo increase in scope and magnitude in order to provide a meaningful result.

The nature of the CrossFit Games demands that organizer Dave Castro push the envelope. This is not a sport constrained by a longstanding set of rules of play. No, in today’s competitive fitness market, legend dictates that each CrossFIt Games be bigger than the one before. In a constant need to push past the standard fitness tests of yesteryear, the Games has developed from a test of fitness to a test of survival. It has become not a test of cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, and speed, but a test of how much one is willing and able to suffer.

The stated goal of CrossFit programming, written on the for over a decade is designed “to exceed the limits of the world’s fittest people, but can be scaled to meet anyone’s current fitness.” The CrossFit Games are the ultimate expression of CrossFit programming. They are the test of each athletes preparation. As such they must, by definition, exceed these athletes limits in some way.

But if the CrossFit Games is a test to find the fittest on earth, it is also a show. It is packaged for streaming and for ESPN, and there are spectators by the thousands. As a show, as entertainment, the tests must be developed in such a way as to culminate in the final event on Sunday night. Ergo, the mere fact that entertainment value must be factored into the programming pollutes the actual test of fitness. If you were truly seeking to test the fittest on earth, giving consideration to how it plays to the crowd would be a bastardization of the process.

Is a swim/paddle event really riveting for the crowd? Did anyone actually enjoy watching the Games athletes plod through “Murph”? I don’t think so. What about the marathon row from 2013? These are all examples of events whose sole purpose is to test athletes’ capacity in training modalities and activities that they have likely never attempted. Preparation for the “unknown and unknowable” is, after all, one of the stated goals of CrossFit programming as well.

As a result, the powers that be (and as far as I can determine the only real power is Dave Castro) in making programming decisions must take the Evel Knievel approach: “How can we top last year? How can we really give them a show that will blow their minds?”



The trending word this year out of Carson was “beatdown.” Without question, the volume has been high in previous Games. Ocean swim events have been going on since 2011, and in 2013 we saw a row marathon. But even a cursory view of last year’s events reveals nowhere near the mind-numbing volume of the 2015 Games.


Two days after the athletes competed in a nearly hour-long ocean swim event, in the mid-day 100-degree California sun, the athletes competed in “Murph.” Fully vested, un-partitioned. It hurt people.

Yes, “Murph” is a difficult workout. Yes, it consists of a high volume of reps. But to say that “it hurt people” doesn’t remove it’s validity as a test of fitness from the CrossFit Games. The fact that some athletes, top of the heap or not, were pushed potentially beyond their limits only shows a lack of preparation on their part for the potential tests they may have to participate in.

Granted, most CrossFitters do “Murph” on Memorial Day, many times in oppressive heat and many times with a weight vest. And often, we mere mortals are ruined by the event for days on end and rarely are we doing it as competition. We have our water bottles nearby and are usually in front of a big-ass fan. Indoors.

And the Games athletes had water stations out on the 800m turn around and again at the mouth of the soccer stadium. If they’d wanted they could have carried a water bottle with them the entire race in fact.

But these fittest-on-earth specimens were dropping like flies. By now many have seen that Kara Webb was virtually walking dead as she ran her final mile.

To stay they were “dropping like flies” is more than a bit of an overstatement of fact. 4 athletes, Kara Webb, Annie Thorisdottir, Maddie Myers and Neil Maddox had issues with the event. Of them only one, Myers, withdrew immediately. My guess by her rankings in the entirety of the events she participated in, 34th, 34thT, 34th and 39th respectively is that she was ill prepared for the Games as a whole. This leaves us Webb, Annie and Neil to discuss.

Webb continued with the competition, all the way through to the end and in fact finished 5th overall.

Annie “may have” some issues with her kidney’s due to dehydration and heat stroke. This is certainly no laughing matter, and nothing to ignore or push to the side. However, if you take even a cursory glance at any of the major endurance events that happen annually, events such as the Ironman Triathlon, Western States 100 or even standard marathons, what you’ll find is a much higher risk to athletes as far as dehydration, heat related injury and even deaths. Yes, that’s right, every year people die from participating in these events. It’s not talked about much because these are voluntary events and it’s almost expected that the athletes will bear a tremendous burden simply to complete them. 

While the last thing I’m going to contend is that we should expect deaths at the CrossFit Games, the point here is simply that athlete safety is and always will be a major part of the discussion when programming for the CrossFit Games is discussed. There’s a reason we use crash pads under climbing ropes and there’s a reason only 5 athletes went through the snatch ladder at the same time. Athlete safety is a huge part of the concern for the organizers. 

Continued in tomorrow’s post….


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