Category: Crossfit Open

You want to get better? Do the work.

My first CrossFit Open was in 2013 although I don’t count it because I only hit 2 of the WODs. Technically I logged 1 rep in the third workout, 13.3 (wallballs, double unders, ring muscle ups), but that one rep was only for vanity. I headed in to shoulder surgery not long after I counted that one rep. 2014 was my only complete Open. In 2015 and 2016 injuries kept me from completing the 5th workout. Add to that, in 2015 I was only a few months away from from hip surgery and in nowhere near being in shape.

Even with the no-reps in 15.5 and 16.5, I had 3 years of data to look at, and I wasn’t very happy with the results.

In my age group, Men 45-49 years old, I was finishing roughly in the top-25% every year. Even as the pool of participants grew from 5,726 in 2014 to 14,175 in 2017 I would still lock in around that 75% mark. Granted, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Right shoulder surgery in 2013 and right hip surgery in 2014. Hey! Who knew excessive swimming and running would screw up your body? I thought only CrossFit caused people to get injured. Nope. My injuries are all from pounding the crap out of myself after years of triathlon, running, adventure racing, and MTB and running epics. Lot of fun. Also a lot of wear and tear.

Leaving the 2016 Open I was disappointed. I was a little better at top 20% vs. my usual top 25%, but that was purely incremental. Odds are I would have fallen back to 75% if I’d been able to do 16.5. Thrusters/burpee WODs wreak a special kind of hell on my back. This will come up later in this discussion also.

If I was going to get better I needed to have a target. Being a master’s athlete I have an easily recognizable target, and, if one is going to have a goal, why not make it an audacious goal.?Yeah, I said fuck it and targeted the Master Qualifier – or finishing Top 200 in my age group. Let’s ignore that this would require in improvement spanning multiple orders of magnitude. As they say, “Dream Big or Go Home.”

I didn’t pick a goal that was Top-50 in California or some other region because I find those pretty meaningless. The Open is a worldwide thing, but I’m not going to Regionals as a 49 year old who is decent at Crossfit. Top 200 in my age group would be the goal.

What I didn’t  have was the answer to a pretty basic question. “I want to make it to the top 200, but how the hell do I get there?”

Crossfit classes are great. With classes, I keep learning and improving. This tall, skinny guy (6’2” 170# in my prime running years) now weighs in at 200# and can squat, deadlift and clean weights I didn’t think were possible for me. That said, I’m still weak overall (225# clean, 300# back squat, 435# deadlift). It was obvious if I really wanted to get better I’d have to go outside the box, or outside of the box’s programming. I trust one coach a lot and asked her for opinions on what programming to start following. There are a lot of great choices out there. Some are free – weekly training programs, some are purchased. None already knew me though. I was surprised when Cheryl offered to run a custom program for me. I was stoked too.

It took us a couple of months to pull together because things were hectic for both of us. In that time I retested all of my lifts and benchmark WODs. I had improved on almost every one of them. Like I said, Crossfit classes are great, and consistency builds competence. Finally, in mid-June I had a program in hand that was tailored specifically to me. I was also a little bit concerned if I would stick with it. I like the atmosphere of a class WOD. I like pacing off of someone who is stronger or faster than me to make me go a little bit harder than my comfort zone would normally allow. By “faster” I mean barbell reps. Very few in my gym are faster at running. Trust me, if I could I would readily trade some of my run pace for some barbell endurance.

Let’s be honest. This was not an easy process. It took me a month or more to get the feel of doing my own workout. Our box is huge, so I could always find space. Initially it felt really weird when I would be doing pull-ups and wallballs next to a class of 30 people who were backsquatting. Then I started to like doing my own thing. It was just me and the clock. My coach programmed a lot of EMOM style WODs because she knows I needed the practice to stay intense and yet not burn myself out.

We had a lot to work on. I sucked at thrusters, HSPUs, wallballs, double unders, mobility of any kind, and any form of overhead work. My olympic lifting skills are pretty poor too. Tall, lanky, immobile and didn’t pick up a barbell until I was 44. That’s not a recipe for olympic lifting success.

I am good at running.

Have I mentioned that?

I’m also pretty good at rowing and on the assault bike. There’s an aerobic theme there even without looking too deep. Old habits die hard.

Back to the process. Did I mention that I also run product at a startup? Oh, and I have an amazing wife and two kids. My wife is awesome with my exercise addictions, but I still had to find time to bump up my workouts from 1 hour of a class to 1 1/2 hours at least. There were a ton of 4am alarms bells so I could get to the gym by 5am (opening time), warm up, do my work, cool down, cleanup and be on the phone for 7am conference calls. Oh yeah, I also run our China operation, so that’s some late night calls.

And travel? Since this training plan started there were 3 trips to China, 2 trips to Europe, and several jaunts around the US. Consistency was not easy to come by, but it was up to me to make it happen.

I purchased templates for RP Diet and got my nutrition on point too. Every time I see someone’s meal prep with on Instagram with all of their meals perfectly proportioned, in individual containers and laid out to coincide with their training calendar I’d get a little jealous. Some days I can get to the gym at 5am. Some days it’s 5pm. Some days I get notified of a meetings that obliterate all training time. It sucks, but I also love startup life.

So hours and hours later there was clear improvement. My ability to rep out wallballs was improving. I still sucked at thrusters. I hit a few PRs here and there. I still sucked at thrusters. I improved a lot on my lifts. I still sucked at thrusters.

Cheryl consistently programmed new variations of workouts to push me into areas where I had to dig deep and stay steady. She had me doing a lot of dumbbell work: snatches, overhead carries, stuff to get me balanced. She also insisted that I work on my double unders. A lot. Until I actually had them again and could rep them out.

And then December came. Who knew it would have been a good idea to get a flu shot?

I lost almost the entire month of December being sick twice. That wrecked me. A chunk of January was lost too. Of course my whole family was sick too. And work stress? Oh no, that didn’t let up either. By now I had shelved my goal of hitting the Top-200. In all honesty it was a pipe dream anyway. I wasn’t really sure if the new goal should be top-500 or top-1,000. December and January really kicked my ass.

Come January I registered for the Open and watched the days click by. The best part of all of this was how calm I felt. Although I commented on the ubiquitous “what will 17.1 be?” threads, I didn’t really care. Bring it Castro. I was as ready as I was going to be.

17.1 dumbbell snatch/burpee box jump overs
My lower back locks up when I do a lot of flexion/extension with it. It’s becomes real pain. This workout really hit on my problems. I didn’t finish in the 20 minute time cap mainly because I couldn’t bend over and pick up the damn dumbbell. The round of 50 was excruciating. That said, I was only 12 reps shy of completing it. Even if I had wanted to there was no way I could re-do this one for a better score.
WOD:    2,880th place. Top 20%
Overall: same…. it’s 17.1.

17.2 lunges / T2B or bar muscle ups / dumbbell cleans
I like stuff like this. I’m not great at lunges, but they fit into that “embrace the suck” mindset. I can string together toes-to-bar, and I do have bar muscle ups. I did the workout once in Barcelona and got 3 rounds. After flying home on Saturday I did it again and added another set of lunges to that tally. Could have had a couple of bar muscle ups, but I screwed up and started doing toes-to-bar instead.
WOD:       918th place, top 6%
Overall: 1,494th place, top 11%

17.3 chest-to-bar pullups / squat snatches
Although I have the motion for butterflying C2B’s I can’t hit my chest to the bar because of bad shoulder mobility, so I kipped all of them. My snatch is not the best, so I stalled out at 135# not getting any lifts there on Friday. This pissed me off. My personal best is 145# (or so I thought), so I should have been able to hit at least 1 at 135#. Thankfully my coach didn’t correct me. My personal best was only 125#. I still didn’t realize that when I went back in on Sunday and hit 4 reps at 135#. Instead of jumping from 95# to 135# I did a rep at 115#. Clearly that paid off.
WOD:     2,776th place, top 20%
Overall:  1,606th place, top 11%

17.4 deadlifts, wallballs, rowing and HSPUs (repeat of 16.4)
This would be my third time doing it this year. In 16.4 I got 2 HSPUs – had plenty of time but really bad HSPUs. this year I PR’ d that by 2 reps in January and by 13 reps in February, but neither of those were to the standard or while being judged. For 17.5 I got 12 HSPUs and 8 no reps. I tried to re-do this one, but at 30 reps of deadlifts I quit the WOD. A re-do was not in the cards.
WOD:    1,428th place, top 10%
Overall:  1,409th place, top 10%

17.5 thrusters and double unders
I was still calm as hell about this announcement. The absolute knowledge that there was nothing more I could do to change anything is so calming. Thrusters and double unders: my thrusters still suck, but they are a LOT better. My double unders are awesome, well, for me. On Friday I hit this one straight through and struggled to a 21:00 finish. On Saturday I mobilized, got a massage and strategized. Coming in to Sunday my plan was to go 1:45 for the first five rounds and and 2:00 for the last 5. EMOM style. It worked. I finished the WOD in 18:18 for close to a 3 minute improvement
WOD:    1,645th place, top 12%
Overall:  1,282nd place, top 9%

BOOM!!!! Top 10% for my age group.

If you want to see what this looks like graphically here ya go….. That doubleheaded arrow is what we like to call “improvement.”

Open 2017 - graphical results 03_28_17

Let’s be honest. With those results I wasn’t even close to hitting the top 200 in my age group. That said, I’m really stoked with how things turned out. The road has been rocky to say the least, but this is clear proof that hard, consistent work pays off. It’s also proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

When we started this journey, my coach Cheryl was very clear, “to be great in CrossFit you CAN’T HAVE ANY HOLES in your game. You don’t need to be perfect in everything, but you MUST be GOOD in everything.” She built a training program that kept my wheelhouse movements in my wheelhouse and dramatically improved the areas where I was weak. As she also mentions, “Ron, you did the work.” That’s true, but I needed a guide, and Cheryl totally kicked ass getting me here.

Am I better at everything? The proof is in the results. 3 of the WODs this year were definitely out of my league in previous years. The pain in 17.1 was real, but I got to a good enough score to keep me moving forward. I knew I would not do well in 17.3, but hitting a PR weight 4 times was enough to keep me from falling too far down the leaderboard. And 17.5. Thrusters have always been a problem for me, and last year I didn’t have double unders. This year I was able to do the thusters in sets of 5/4 and went unbroken on several rounds of double unders.

There is still a lot of room for improvement, but clearly I am better at everything.

Oh yeah. Next year I cross the threshold and enter the 50-54 age group. If you know me and assumed that I was tracking my progress in this Open relative to the 50-54 age group you’d be right. It’s only simple math.

What does the math say? I wouldn’t have hit top-200 in M50-54 this year, but I would have finished in 332nd place.

11 months is a long ways off. My kids need me. My wife needs me. My job needs me.

But I’m still gonna keep fighting. I will be in the Online Qualifier in 2018.

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?

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.29.50 AM

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.

16.2 part 3. single-single-double-single-single-double

My dubs are gone. Completely gone. Sure, I should have practiced them more often, but I’m usually good for 10 in a row. Nope. Not this time. Just no rhythm whatsoever.

A few of us grouped up to hit 16.2 again this morning. I tried my RPM rope. I tried my Rx rope. I tried a gym rope. Bah. Nothing. Got a lot of good advice from those around me, including a couple of coaches, but still couldn’t make it happen.

Counted for one of our coaches. He asked for me to judge, and I had to no rep him. Feet did not break the plane behind him during a couple of his T2B. Must…be….legit.

My turn. I hit my 25 T2B easily. Moved on to the dubs. Kept trying but kept failing too. Finally sucked it up and started doing single-single-double. Too late though as I only got to 38 reps. Too much wasted time.

That was frustrating as hell. I quickly decided that I was going to hit this thing again, and I was going to hit it today. I judged another athlete and set myself up again. No matter what I was going to get to those damn squat cleans.


Toes to Bar were less snappy than the first time. 25 down and back to the rope.

This time I went single-single-double from the start. So what if I had to do 100 extra singles to get 50 doubles. I was going to get 50 doubles. I took way to damn long, but I hit 50 doubles even with a few screw ups along the way. Only had 20 seconds left, so I raced to the bar and knocked out 3 quick reps.

I got to the damned bar.

Not going to lie. I’m equal parts relieved and pissed at myself. No plans on doing it again though.

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?

How the CrossFit Open is Scored: Win, Place or Show

2016Games-logoI did an article last year on how the CrossFit Open is scored, and it was surprisingly popular. It turns out that mathnerds immediately grok the Open, but we are only a small subset of the population. While I have tried to streamline this down to a single paragraph it just did not work. To make this most effective it will be in at least 3 parts.

This week, let’s start with 3 terms: Score, Place, and Points



this is how many reps you do in a WOD, or your time.

It’s an absolute number. It doesn’t change, and it’s all about you. Nobody else matters when it comes to Score.

Let’s say the WOD is a 10 minute AMRAP of 30 double unders and 15 ground to overhead (i.e. 11.1 and 14.1). If you finish 6 rounds at 45 reps per round then your Score is 270. By 5pm Pacific Time on Monday you need to enter “270” on the games website.

Easy-peasy. You did 270 reps in 10 minutes, so your Score is 270.



Now we start comparing ourselves to other people.

Your Score is absolute. 270 reps is 270 reps is 270 reps.

However, your Place is relative to other people. To keep it simple let’s compare only to the 100 other people in your box. Let’s say your Score of 270 is the most in your box. That means you came in first place for this WOD. Alternately, if your Score of 270 is the least in your box then you came in 100th place.

What if your Score of 270 is neither the most nor the least? It’s not quite linear, but remember that we are comparing ourselves to other people. That makes things a bit messy at times.

Suppose, in your box, 10 people Scored 271 reps on the WOD. That means you had the 11th best Score. There would be 10 people in First place with a score of 271, and you would be in 11th Place with your Score of 270.

Remember, this is your Place, and it is relative to the Scores of other people. NOTE: you must enter your Scores before 5pm PT Monday, but don’t even look at your Place until Wednesday. Why? As more Scores hit the database the rankings change. It’s really common to watch your Place drop by 10,000 or more on Tuesday or Wednesday.

But what if I Scale the WOD?

Complication #1 ….. if you scale, you will Place below every other person who did the WOD Rx. If you have the best Scaled score in your box, and 50 people did Rx, then you will be in 51st place.

One rep of Rx is Placed higher than 1,000 reps of Scaled. That’s not a judgment. It’s the way the Open is done.



The Points that you receive each week are based on your Place in the WOD.

First place is 1 point, 2nd place is 2 points, 50th place is 50 points, and 5,000th place is 5,000 points. For a lot of us, when looking at the overall rankings, 250,000th place is 250,000 points.

Let’s take it back to basics. We are in the first Open WOD. You scored 270 reps which was good for 11th Place in your Box. That means you get 11 points for the WOD.

Anyone who did 271 reps, and tied for First place, got 1 point for the WOD. Sticking with our story, 10 people tied for first place, so 10 people receive 1 point.

Each week the Points accumulate. You take the Points you get for week 1 and add those to the Points you get for week 2 and then week 3 to get your combined total.

Your overall Place is the sum of your weekly Points.

Next time we will take a look at how Points are distributed, and what that means.

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.