2016 Reebok CrossFit Games: Matthew Fraser and Annie Thorisdottir leads after a surprise Day 1
The CrossFit Games is upon us, and has already thrown the spanner into the works for the Individual athletes. During the briefing, they were told to show up at the lobby at 3.30am for a surprise, and was told to pack a whole list of clothing into one bag only.
Few hours later, after a flight and a bus ride, they arrive at the Ranch which brought back memories of the 2009 CrossFit Games. In the 2009 games, the last event at The Ranch consisted 50 wall-ball shots (30/20 lb.), 25 GHD sit-ups with the medicine ball, and a run up the hill with the ball.
Just like the summer of 2009
The early heat of women discovered the same thing 2009 competitors discovered about the wall-ball station at The Ranch: the asphalt isn’t totally level. It generally slopes away from the target panel mounted on the barn, and in some places it slopes sideways, too.
First-year Games competitor Alexis Johnson said she got knocked back and sideways by the wall-ball shots, ruining her rhythm and forcing her to pace herself.
“If I was able to do the wall balls well, it definitely would have been an eight out of 10 on the pain.”
Johnson said she trains once a week with a 20-lb. medicine ball but “always in ideal conditions. Rookie mistake, right?”
Several athletes found the hill run to be more about strategy than they anticipated.
“I blew out on that first bit,” Mitchell Sinnamon told Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson as the latter was awaiting his heat. Sinnamon explained that he went too hard at the beginning and thought there was more ground to be made up with a late sprint.
Kara Webb—also knocked around on the slanted ground but more than happy to accept the rugged conditions—said the opposite approach was better.
“I reckon a lot of people are walking on the first bit because they’re afraid of what will happen up there… ,” she said, pointing to the very steep finish area. “You’ve just got to get going.”
Fikowski notches first win
Stacie Tovar, who competed here in 2009, said she was prepared for the sloped ground but that didn’t help: Everyone deals with the same conditions. She said it was more important to shake off a no-rep and avoid stopping on the wall balls. She tried but couldn’t catch Emily Abbott, whose 5:07.17 was the best time after two heats.
The third men’s heat sent a tight pack of beasts up the hill in a group, but they quickly spread out as some chose to walk while others chose a slow jog or the inelegant and indecisive run-walk.
In the end, victory went to those who kept running no matter what.
Brent Fikowski, winner of Ranch Mini Chipper and third overall after Day 1, discovered the correct strategy in training.
“I’ve done some hill sprints at home with a weighted vest and a kettlebell. … When I did those, I made sure I didn’t stop running, even if it was a slow run,” he said.
Fikowski’s 4:14.1 was the best time of the day, followed by Mat Fraser’s 4:20.44 and Patrick Vellner’s 4:22.44.
At the end of Day 1, Matthew Fraser remains on top after winning the Ranch Trail Run followed by Patrick Vellner and Brent Fikowski on the leaderboard.
“I fell in love with CrossFit right here”
Two-time Games champ Annie Thorisdottir discovered the correct strategy to win the event when Guðmundsson called advice across to her in Icelandic. When Games Director Dave Castro told Guðmundsson’s heat Cole Sager had finished in 4:29.05, the Icelander revised a strategy originally based on the eight-minute time cap.
Just before Thorisdottir’s heat, Thorisdottir confirmed she completely revised her plan on the spot just seconds before the event. She tossed the idea of breaking up the wall balls and pushed through, knowing “I can always do GHDs.”
Then she just decided to ignore the pain and get moving.
“The only place I really wanted to walk was right here. But my goal was to run,” she said, gesturing to the steep section at the base of the hill. “
Run she did, all the way to an event win in 4:28.51 and first overall after Day 1. Brooke Wells was second in 4:52.36, and Tennil Reed was third in 4:53.30.
Thorisdottir, standing almost where she got her very first muscle-up in 2009, was moved by her return to The Ranch.
“I didn’t expect it to feel like this. When we drove up, it was a little bit emotional because this is where I started my CrossFit journey,” she said.
She gestured to the spot where the rig holding the rings stood in 2009:
“I fell in love with CrossFit right here.”
At the end of Day 1, Samantha Briggs won the Ranch Trail Run while Annie Thorisdottir won the Mini Ranch Chipper to settle in at first place overall. Briggs and Tia-Clair Toomey are right behind her in the leaderboard.