Category: Crossfit Games

What it took to make Top 50 in the CrossFit Open

After taking a week off to enjoy New Orleans and hit our bi-annual family reunion (thanks CrossFit NOLA for helping me keep my sanity), I’ve been racing to get caught up at the office and prep for a big launch. A while back someone had asked what it took to make it into the top 50 in each Master’s age group, and, well, that totally fell off my radar.

But I’m getting it done now.

Their reason was straightforward, “Since it’s basically only people in the Top 50 in each age group who make it to the Games, can you tell us what the average scores were in each Open WOD for people who finished in the top 50?”

Answer – yes.

Other answer – I know, the WODs we see this year will not be the WODs we see next year (except for 16.5 – that’s for sure coming back). And the people competing will be different next year. And some people who were in 60th place after the Open did great in the Master’s Qualifier and made it to the Games.

Quit nitpicking. It’s a game. We play it. Hopefully we enjoy it. Here are the average scores by WOD and by Age Group for the 50 people who finished in the top 50 in their age groups. Yes, I meant to say it that way….


Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 5.51.45 PM

By the end of the CrossFit Open you are where you belong, mostly

ou’ve read the story. I quit 81.5% through 16.5 because pain was too intense. Wisely I did not go back and try, so I took a no-score. Yes, I was thinking seriously about going back on Sunday, taking a couple Oxycontin to dull the pain, and work my way through it but reason prevailed. Yes, I was seriously considering it, and yes it would have been a serious dose. Not logical but honest.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda is always tough to bear though.

So I looked at the math. I take solace in math. I was sitting in the Top-20% in my age group after 16.4. I was in the Top-19.7% to be precise. My question, the obvious question, is where would I have been if I’d just finished 16.5 when I was almost done. After several breaks mid-WOD to try and alleviate the pain, I stopped 5 reps into the round of 9 thrusters at 18 minutes.

There wasn’t that much left to do. Would it have taken me 2 minutes to finish? 4 minutes? 6 minutes?

If so, where would that have put me on the leaderboard? Luckily, the leaderboard can tell us exactly those answers.

Just take my points going into 16.5 which were 10,250 and from there figure out how many points one would get for finishing at the listed times: 20:00, 22:00, and 24:00. Sum it up and compare overall results to get an overall place.

Going into 16.5 I was at 80.3% overall (i.e. top-20%). Given any of the above scenarios I probably would have finished right about the same place. Maybe I would have been 1% higher. Maybe I would have been 1% lower. In the end, over the course of 4 weeks I was right where I should be and 16.5 wouldn’t have changed that much.

To look at the other side of the question I also asked – what would I have needed to do to finish solidly higher? What about Top 15%?

As you can see, that was easy to calculate as well, and it was eye opening. I would have needed a 14:46 in order to bump up into the Top-15%.

And that was NOT going to happen.

I’m not happy with a no-score on 16.5, but now I can rest a bit easier knowing how things may have turned out. I entered 16.5 in the place I had earned, and I would have left 16.5 right in the same band.

What you had to do to make it to the 2016 Masters Qualifier

The CrossFit Open is all about numbers.

How many reps did you do in 16.1? What was your time in 16.5? How many people went faster or slower? It’s all numerical, and I like numbers.

As I did in 2014 and 2015, I took a snapshot of what it took to make it into the Masters Qualifier in 2016. As a refresher, the top 20 Masters in each 2016Games-logo“over 40” age group are invited to the Games. Before that happens there is a weekend of WODs, performed wherever you happen to be, where the top-200 finishers in each Age Group are allowed to compete. Think of it as a mini-Games but done in your own box.

What did it take in 2016 to get into the Top-200 of each Age Group? By updating my spreadsheet from last year it was pretty easy to figure out.

Methodology – I pulled the results from each age group of the people who finished from 190th to 210th place in the Open. This includes 10 people who made it into the MQ and 10 who didn’t, but it gives a solid indicator of what it took to come in right at 200th place. For this exercise we’ll set aside that it’s basically the Top-20 in the Open who make it to the Games with some exceptions (as I wrote about in a previous post, Does the Open even Matter?). This post is only about making it into the Top-200, and it’s meant as a general guideline and not a comprehensive analysis. Use this to start planning your training for 2017 if your goal is to get to the MQ.

So, what did it take to make it into the Top-200?

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Some  explanation:

  • I have not figured out a way to elegantly adjust for Scaled Scores
  • Cells with “VALUE!” are where 1 or more participants cracked the Top-200 with a Scaled score
  • I think it was the W55-59 where there is a Scaled score at 180th place, but not in 190-210
  • “Dev” is the standard deviation

How does this compare to last year? Given that the WODs are different, the reps are different too. However, when it comes to Scaled Scores, the results are VERY different. In 2015 there were several Female divisions where it was possible to advance to the MQ with a Scaled score. This year – not so much. Only the 60+ age groups, this year both male and female, see a Scaled score at the 200th place range. With the given data it’s not possible to say why this is: competition is much tougher, WODs were more accessible, whatever.

At the Ranch for the live 16.5 Announcement

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 12.10.32 PMMy box hosted the 16.1 announcement, but I was in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress and couldn’t attend. I’m not much of a crowded spaces, enthusiastic crowd kind of person although I do get stoked off the intensity. When someone posted that he had a spare ticket to the 16.5 announcement at the Ranch I jumped on it. Well, after clearing with my wife that it was OK to not be home until late. That’s how I roll.

I wanted to go for a couple of reasons. The obvious reason of seeing Fraser, Smith, and Froning throw down. Sure, there’s that. The other is the innate curiosity I’ve had about Castro’s Ranch for a couple of years now. I grew up on a rural piece of property with a bunch of outbuildings and hills. Was it similar> Just where did this Castro kid grow up?

I’ve seen the YouTube videos of the 2007 and 2008 Games. I’ve seen the various random workouts they host at the ranch. I live within 50 miles of the place and drive through Aromas fairly frequently, but I never knew exactly where the ranch is.

It’s not where I thought it was.

A quick look at directions had me thinking it was a few miles south of Gilroy at the overpass where you can cut over the coast range to Monterey (and I did once, but my then 6 year old puked all over the back seat because of the curving roads). Nope I was well into Blood Alley when I looked to the left and saw a bunch of cars and a big container with CrossFit written on the side… Oh, it’s right on the freeway.

First I had to exit the freeway and head back north for a mile or so. Cool, the new overpass, that I’d watched being built for a couple of years, was my turnaround. I’d never had any reason to drive over it.

I almost overshot the small road off of the freeway, but easily found the Ranch. The guy directing parking was my box-friend who had supplied the ticket. That was cool – I hate it when I give something away and someone doesn’t use it.

Let me explain the Ranch.

It’s your typical California semi-agricultural, semi-industrial space. A house nearby and a big metal warehouse/workshop and a parking pad with a hill behind it.

IMG_3626That’s it. At the moment the hill was green and wet, but that will change soon.

It is a hell of a lot closer to the 101 than I had expected. Actually, it’s literally ON the 101. And it’s on the East side. For some reason I just assumed it was on the West side of the freeway.

The media setup is pretty intense. There’s a huge main camera and several remote cameras. There’s a media trailer. It’s probably the minimum for a live broadcast, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

The crowd was a few hundred people. Obviously they were crossfit folks. It seemed pretty casual. To fire up the crowd they did a few contests; a full contact handstand walk, an L-sit hold. They started with a short hill run. Really should have tried to jump in on that because, well, runner….

During this time they had brought out ergs and barbells with an assortment of weights. The assortment of weights made a few folks think it was going to be a ladder of some kind or a one-rep max. Nope, that was just for the athletes to warmup.

And then the announcement. One take – we’re doing it live. Keep the speeches short and on point.


Oh shit, we’re doing 14.5 again.

Then a break while they brought out the mats with the rep counts numbered. Then they brought out the barbells. It’s a lot of work to pull it all together. Given that they clearly have to practice all of this I’m still surprised that someone hasn’t leaked a workout yet.

Mats rolled out (the ones’ on the floor. I have no idea if Fraser rolled out). Froning, Smith, and Fraser came out again. Just saying, but those guys are not very tall. Fit as hell, but not very tall.


3….2….1…. GO!

I was within arm’s length of Fraser for his 21 reps, and he looked slower than Smith or Froning. Fraser’s thrusters were much faster than mine will EVER be, but compared to Froning and Smith, Fraser’s thrusters looked almost methodical. Extend, slight pause at full extension, back down. His burpees though, were blazing fast, and he soon caught and passed Froning and Smith.

I can’t comprehend how fast they can move both weight and their bodies. It’s surreal. By the round of 15 it was clear that Ben Smith was slowing down. Fraser was hauling ass. To be clear, “Ben Smith was slowing down” is only relative to the 2 guys beside him. I plan on slowing down in my set of 21.

To borrow from my ultra and adventure racing days, my goal is to “start slow and then taper off.”

Not just that they were going unbroken on their thrusters – they were repping them out faster than most people can do for a set of 3 when fresh.

Fraser won – as we know. I hung around for Ro vs. Boz because Castro said he was joining them. I really wanted to see Castro throw down. Unlike many people, I know he is an athlete, and I don’t harbor any animosity towards him. But I still wanted to see what he could do. Especially after he said during the cooldown show that he was “going to fucking war to beat both Ro AND Boz.”

No. No he wasn’t going to do that….

Yes, I saw a lot of CrossFit royalty. No, I didn’t get any autographs or take selfies. Hell, I didn’t talk to anyone because total introvert. Still had a blast.

After Boz finished, securing his 2016 sweep, I headed out. Had to hit Costco and Trader Joe’s for some Easter Dinner shopping.

I know. I live a life of pure glamour, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

When I shoot down to Monterey via the 156 or down to Paso to visit family as I negotiate from 75 down to the lower speed limit I’ll look left towards the Ranch. Now I know where it is.

CrossFit Open Scoring – How does Scaling work for Points, Place and Score?

2016Games-logoAs CrossFitters, I think we all know what Scaling is, but, before 2015, scaling a workout was not in option in the Open.

In order to put muscle ups first in a WOD and not face the wrath of 200,000+ average CrossFitters, in 2015 HQ added a Scaled option to each WOD.

Ooops. that’s just my opinion. It’s entirely possible that I am not wrong.

How does Scaling work in the Open?

Each WOD has 2 choices, Rx and Scaled. Every week you get to choose which option is better for you. Yes, you can switch back and forth between Scaled and Rx each week. If you do Week 1 Scaled, you can do Week 2 Rx. For Week 3 you get to choose again.

Initially people thought that there was a rule about Scaling – once you Scale one workout you have to Scale the rest of the workouts. That is not true. Scale or Rx is your decision to make for each WOD.

Besides the workout or rep scheme, your Place is different if you Scale or Rx.

One rep of Rx counts more than any number of reps for a Scaled workout.

Using our 100 person box example from the previous explanations let’s look at how Scale and Rx are assigned Points. Let’s say the WOD is 15.3 (14 minute AMRAP

Rx: 7 muscleups, 50 wallballs, 100 double unders

Scaled: 50 wallballs, 200 singles

50 people in the box do the WOD Rx, and 50 people do the WOD Scaled.

You are close to your first muscle up, and you finally get it. Just 1, but it’s a muscle up.


Your friend Mary does the WOD Scaled and hits 4 rounds. Yes, she does 1,000 reps in 14 minutes. She has the “best” Scaled score in your box. In that same 14 minutes you did 1 rep.

Everyone else in your box did at least 2 muscle ups, so you come in 50th place out of the 50 people who did Rx. Because Mary did the Scaled workout she comes in 51st place. It does not matter that Mary has literally 1,000x more reps than you do.

1 rep of Rx scores higher than any number of Scaled reps, for each WOD.

That’s not a judgment call on my part. It’s the rules. For Place and Points we rank ourselves against each other weekly. Because you did Rx, you Place higher than anyone who does the WOD Scaled.

Does that mean that you will always rank higher in the overall standings than Mary?


It means for 15.3 you rank higher. You get 50 points for your point total, and Mary gets 51 points for her total. Whoever has the lowest points overall ranks higher.

This picture shows where someone who Rx’d every workout is ranked lower overall than a couple of people who had Scaled workouts which is noted by the “-s” after their score.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.31.15 AM

Note: this is over the course of 5 weeks.

Why is this possible? Because the people who Scaled 15.3 had better relative scores in the other WODs which allows their one Scaled WOD not to drag them down too far. IMO, this is pretty fair. The Open is a test of general fitness, and having a certain skill, i.e. a muscle up, does not mean you are generally more fit than someone else. Basically it all works out.

Can I qualify for Regionals or the Masters Qualifier if I Scale workouts?

By the rules – Yes. If you have sufficient points to be in the overall Top-200 for your Masters Age Group (worldwide), or you have sufficient points to be in the Top-20 of your region as an Individual, then you can advance to the next level. HQ made that clear last week. If you Scale workouts you are eligible to advance to the next round.

Let’s be honest though.

If you are trying to qualify for Regionals you will not make it if you scale a workout.

If you are old, like me, it depends on your age group. If you are under 55 – male or female – you had to Rx every workout to get enough points to make it into the top-200 in your age group. In the 60+ age groups a few people made it into the Masters Qualifier having Scaled 1 or more of the Open WODs.

Truth of the matter – pick the version of the workout that is right for you. Scaled and Rx both mean that you are competing in the Open, which is pretty damned cool. My point here is only to explain how the math works.

CrossFit Open Scoring #2 – How is My Overall Place Calculated Week-to-Week

2016Games-logoIn the last article we covered terminology: Score, Place, and Points

Today we will cover how your position on the Leaderboard changes week-by-week.

The next article will cover Scaling.

Let’s do this: (recap from article #1)

Your Score is the number of Reps you did (or your time).

Your Place is how you rank relative to your group (Overall, your age group, your box)

Your Points are the same as you per WOD Place (Finish in 11th and you get 11 points. Finish in 25,123rd and you get 25,123 points)

To keep the same theme, you completed 270 reps on 14.1, and 10 of your boxmates completed 271 reps for the highest score in the box. For your efforts, you get 11 points, and your friend Mary, who got 271 reps, gets 1 point. When you look at your scores it will look something like this

…………………………..Workout 01

1 (1)     Mary Badass   1 (271)

11 (11) You Yourself   11 (270)

The first column is your Overall standings. It’s your current overall place followed by (in parentheses) the total number of points you have. It’s week 1, so you only have one set of points.

The Column below “Workout 01” is your results from Workout 01. In this case, the first number is how you placed in the WOD, and the number in parentheses is your # of reps, i.e your Score.

Notice – that one extra rep in Workout 1 is worth 10 points for Mary because 10 people tied at 271 reps, and you hit 270 reps. Really? You couldn’t have done just……..more…..rep?

Seriously, more on this later, but early WODs effectively count for more than later WODs.

Let’s look at how this adds up when week 2 rolls around.

Week 2’s WOD is 9 minute AMRAP, 15 toes-to-bar, 10 deadlift 115#, and 5 snatch 115#. Sorry Mary, but you are doing the men’s weights for this one.

This time you hit 115 reps, and Mary hits 114 reps. In your box that is good for 10th place (you), and 11th place (Mary)

…………………………….Workout 01  Workout 2

5   (12)   Mary Badass     1 (271)         11 (114)

14 (21)   You Yourself   11 (270)         10 (115)

In this example, Mary is now in 5th Place Overall for your box after week 2.

You are in 14th Place Overall for your box after week 2.

I just made up those placings, but here is what matters: you add your Place in each WOD to get your total Points.

Look at column at 1. In WOD 1 Mary got 1 point for finishing tied for 1st place. In WOD 2 Mary got 11 points for finishing in 11th place. Thus she has 12 total points (11 + 1).

You now have 21 total points. 11 points for finishing 11th in WOD 1 + 10 points for finishing 10th in WOD 2. See, all you had to do was one….more….double-under in WOD 1, and you would be ahead of Mary after WOD 2.

This is how Points work. You rank everyone in each WOD and total up those numbers to get your “Overall” Points. Then you compare each person by their total Points.

What if someone finishes in First Place in every WOD? If there are 5 total WODs then their final point total at the end of the Open would be 5, or 1 point for each WOD.

Next Time: How Does Scaling Work?

Covering the Masters

Now that the Games are over the ranting can begin.

How horrible the broadcast coverage was of the Masters events.
How names were mispronounced.
How Masters winners received only $10,000 instead of $275,000 like Ben Smith and Katrin Davidsdottir did…

OK. Here goes……

Are you fucking kidding me???? 

Holy shit people! I don’t know about you, but I watched 3 FREAKIN’ DAYS OF MASTERS AT THE CROSSFIT GAMES!!!

3 days. An easy 24 solid hours of coverage.

You know what I saw?

I saw the only sporting event that I know of where Masters are treated as legitimate athletes.

I saw 60 year old women throwing down in some grueling events and the announcers TOTALLY RESPECTED their efforts. They were not treated like some kind of freakshow. I never heard, “these women are grandmothers. Shouldn’t they be knitting or something?”

I did hear “I’m not 55, and I could not thruster that weight.”

Nobody even made a crack about whether a 61 year old woman should be wearing booty shorts in public.

(for my money – they can wear whatever they damned well please. They earned it)

Heck, after every event, in every age group, they interviewed the winner. Live.

I know, that’s not critical. It’s hard to have a coherent interview with someone who can barely breathe, but it was legit and just what they do with the youngsters.

It was clear that Master are athletes, and they were treated as such. It probably helps the all (?) of the announcers are CrossFitters, so they understand.

Sure, some announcers mispronounced names (sometimes repeatedly). Sure, the coverage was almost always about the top 3 in the heat.

Guess what? That shit happens on every other sporting event too. Well, maybe the names are pronounced correctly, but have you ever watched NBC’s Hawai Ironman coverage? It sucks. It’s 10 hours distilled down to 90 minutes (with commercials) of some editors decision about what is “most viewable.” They cover the top-3 athletes, and they throw in 4 or 5 of those tear-jerking “human interest” stories. They woman who lost 300 pounds and is now doing Ironman. The guy raising funds for his sister’s heart transplant, etc. Sure those people are amazing, but the 47 year old mother of 3 who has a career and makes time to be an elite athlete is pretty amazing too. We all know how hard it is to balance our lives, career, and family.

Notice I didn’t say “social life” since I have no clue what that is….

The 1,400 other people on the Queen K, including about 900 Masters, who are out there busting ass and getting it done? Nope, no mention of them. Maybe they will get captured in some B-roll footage or a silhouette against the setting sun.

If a marathon gets covered do they go deep into the crowd and show indicative athletes from each age group? Hell no.

On an NFL broadcast? Oh yeah, nobody over 40 is even in the NFL…. except for that one guy, maybe.

This week I spent 24 hours watching people who looked like me do werk. Grey hair, wrinkles, hugging their kids (sometimes their grandkids) after each event. Real people. Most of them even have real jobs. Well, not the 60+ year olds. I hope to hell a few of them are retired.

Maybe my criteria is too low. Maybe Masters should have an equal broadcast relative to the individuals.

But I’m pretty damned happy with what was made available. I’ll say the coverage of the Masters events was pretty amazing, and better than any sport I can think of.

And I can hit YouTube any time I want to see real people busting ass. That’s pretty cool too.

Good end to Day 2 of Teams – Awesome job #NorCal #crossfit

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Does the CrossFit Open even matter?

Number crunch time…

For Masters athletes there is  a bit of back-and-forth about the Masters Qualifier. Specifically, some people have commented that they feel it’s not fair to include an athlete’s Open score in the calculation for who goes to the Games.

Here is a quick primer or those who are not familiar with how the Masters divisions (40 years old and above) work.

We all do the Open. Then the top 200 Masters Athletes in each age group worldwide are invited to participate in 4 additional WODs. 5 scores are then tallied. The place you finished in the Open is 1 score, and the 4 additional Masters Qualifier WODs provide the 4 other scores. From there, the Top 20 in each age group, worldwide, are invited to the Games.

I keep saying, “Worldwide” because it’s common to think it’s based on your regional standing. That would be cool, but Regional standing only matters for individual athletes and teams.

Is it fair to count your Open finish in the Masters Qualifier?

Quite frankly, I don’t know, but I can take a look and see if it has any impact. For the most part, whoever places in the Top 10 in their Age Group is and amazing athlete who is very likely to remain in the Top 20. I think that’s obvious, but what about other folks.

Just how many people would have qualified for the Games if only the scores from the Masters Qualifier WODs were counted?

Answer: Not very many.

I get it. If you are the person who was affected then n=1, and it sucks. That said, let’s look at the numbers overall.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 1.09.44 PM


Roughly speaking, about 1 person per age group would have made it to the Games had the Open scores been thrown out.

That is 0.8% of Masters Qualifier participants. Those 1 person per age group? Yep, they sat roughly between 25th and 33rd place, so they were close to the bubble anyway.

Keeping the Open score really doesn’t matter.


Methodology – I used a simple screen scrape and Excel. In the bigger Age Groups, I only grabbed the first 2 screens (1st place through 120th place). Sure, I could have grabbed everyone, but this was manual. Not to mention, it doesn’t change the results. In a few of the age groups less than 120 people completed the MQ WODs, so I only grabbed the people who completed all 4 WODs

I recalculated each person’s point total with only the 4 MQ WODs, sorted, and compared the new sort to the original sort.

Care to comment? Click here and leave me a comment or question at the bottom of the post.






Want to feel weak? Lift next to a Games athlete

Insane week. No WODs, but this morning was a coach’s birthday. 7am is usually 5 or 6 people. Her fiancé announced a birthday WOD, so 7am this morning was over 50 people. Hella cool.

had to go in partners since it was so packed.

WOD: 20 minute AMRAP
Partner A runs 200
while Partner A is running, Partner B does
3 muscleups, and AMRAP squat cleans (Rx 185#)

To keep moving I sub’d pull-ups for the muscle ups. We went with 135#. Coincidentally, the Games athlete (5th place, team) next to us also went with 135#, only I’m easily 7″ taller and have 50#’s on her…. I’m barely hitting 3 squat cleans per round, and she’s touch-and-go’ing 5-7 reps. And that was after snapping off 3 muscle ups per round.

It’s literally amazing to watch the work capacity.

Going to Cabo for a week tomorrow morning. Just have to get through today.