Category: masters

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.

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.

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.






Getting into the 2015 CrossFit Open Masters Qualifier – Ummm, Scaled WODs are screwing up my math

OK math nerds, or Excel nerds…. what do we do with this one?

In order to create a picture of what it took to get into this year’s Masters Qualifier, I did my usual and grabbed the results from Masters finishers from 190th place to 210th place. It was pretty simple in 2014 to figure out what it took to be in 200th place because there was only way one to enter a score. Now my simple Excel work just doesn’t cut it.

The existence of the Scaled WODs screws up Excel a bit. The “-s” at the end of the scores signifies that the WOD was scaled. Sure, I could just delete the “-s” but that would mess up the average score. Looking at the M50-54 most scores for 15.3 were in the 200-300 reps range. One gentleman did Scaled and hit 866 reps which is 4x the average Rx score.

I can’t include that because a score of 866 would mess up the average, but making it a 0 score wouldn’t be right either. The problem is more pronounced in other divisions where more people in the 190-210 place range did Scaled workouts.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.50.19 PM

Any suggestions for how to account for Scaled scores in way that will keep things legit, so people can see what it took to make into the Top 200?

Disclaimer – I am not making any judgement whatsoever about Scaled or Rx. Clearly everyone worked hella hard to get into this elite company. However, I am asking a question about representing the data in the best way.

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

15…point….1 and DONE!

I know. Y’all are just dying to know how I did on 15.1.

But first a diversion. You knew this was coming…

Why in the hell am I so down on myself? I walked away from 15.1, quite frankly, pissed off at myself. Walked in the door and my wife said I looked like I’d driven an hour+ to the gym only to find it closed. I was pissed. Didn’t perform to expectations. Then I cracked open a Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter (ABV 11.2%, roughly) and thought a bit.

I’ve made improvements and done some cool stuff, but I’ve been injured somewhat-seriously for 2 freakin’ years. Shoulder surgery was August 2013 and was preceded by 6 or so months of PT, doctor’s visits, MRI’s, and pain. When I finally felt whole after surgery I slid over into hip surgery. That was only 5 1/2 months ago. This ain’t a pity party. It’s somewhat of a realization that I haven’t been 100% for a while now. I’ve still been able to do really cool stuff; first crossift comp, broke 400 in the deadlift, hit top 25% in my age group in the Open last year, but I’m always down on myself for not performing better. That’s kinda dumb really. Add to that I’m back in an executive position at a startup, and life is totally and completely nuts. Time to get real about expectations.

So I looked at 15.1 as another WOD. I didn’t know if I would be able to get 3 or 4 rounds, or maybe only 2 rounds. In the warmup it dawned on me that I haven’t snatched since last August. Haven’t cleaned for a while, and definitely haven’t done anything close to a heavy jerk. Haven’t squatted over 75#’s since, well, September – early September. I did a few bare bar snatches. They felt unwieldy. Just not used to the movement.

From a 45# bar, we loaded 35’s to get to the 115# Rx weight, and I snatched that. Thank goodness this wasn’t a squat snatch WOD. 115# felt like crap. I got it up, but it was fugly. Left shoulder was a shooting pain. Nice.

Judged for Sam who went first. He did well. 5+ rounds and up to a 241# clean.

My turn. Screw it. Pulled out the Inov-8 Oly shoes for the first time since…. September. Have felt too much like a poser to put them on lately. Plus you don’t need Oly shoes when squatting 75#’s.

No offense intended. Sam is a really good guy, but when he said, “are you sure you want Rx weight?” I kinda wanted to give him a bit of advice… Instead I just said, “Yep,” nodded my head, and took a deep cleansing breath.

Round 1 – Toes-to-Bar. Got the first one easy and…totally couldn’t string them. When I’m on I can string 10 T2B pretty easily. Today? Nothing. Was doing that nasty double kip with a major bottom pause. Switched to a lower bar next to me and started doing singles. Got it done.

Deads? 115# deads? Please.

Then the snatches. That was nasty. Looked like a total newbie. My snatch PR is a sucky 155#, but 115# felt like it was over 200#’s. Had to take  second to clear my head. Sam was giving good coaching advice, but my body is not in position to do put that wisdom into practice. By the 4th rep I was feeling almost OK about the snatch. They were a nasty muscle/power snatch combo, but they were getting done.

Round 2 – got it done. Sometime in these snatches Sam said, “just go Shoulder-to-Overhead. Keep it moving.” Uhhhh, no. Hell no! I’ve got the Rx weight, and I’m going to Rx this WOD. Honestly, it was the right advice, but I’m not smart enough to listen.

No repped myself twice for not touching the bar on the ground between deadlifts. Gots to be legit.

Round 3, them snatches were HEAVY. Into Round 4 I had a minute or so on the clock. Did no-rest toes-to-bar singles. I really wanted to finish that set, and I did.

Back to the deadlifts with maybe 35 seconds on the clock, and I, no bullshit, hammered them out. Score: 115, 3 rounds + 25 reps.

That’s pretty solid for not knowing where I would go. I was tired, but it wasn’t role on the floor tired. I can’t even get into that pain cave with the shape I’m in. Yeah, “get in shape so you REALLY suffer…”

Then 15.1A

The trick is to use 1/2 pound plates to get a single pound on the competition. Sam had them, but some guy had taken them from the pile when I was tying my shoes. What the fuck???? Who takes your weights during a WOD?

Yeah, I expressed my dissatisfaction to him afterwards. He mentioned that he did ask and got permission. I then pointed out that it is better to get permission FROM THE PERSON WHO IS ACTUALLY LIFTING!!!

Coach found 1/4# discs for me quite quickly. Nice. A little adder.

Started at 135.5#’s for a solid opener. Easy.

I forget my exact progression, but my 3rd lift was at 180.5. Folks, I’m barely even power cleaning these reps because I don’t have confidence in my hip. Cleaned the 180.5, which is more than I’ve cleaned in a long time. Then I let my head get in the way and barely got any height on the bar during my jerk.

Still had a couple of minutes left. Trust me folks. You can get 4 solid lifts in. Don’t rush it. And don’t even start your first lift until AT LEAST a minute in. You need to calm down from the MetCon.

I took my time. I chalked up. I tried to breathe. Then I went back to the bar.

Muscle cleaned it. Paused. Took a deep breath. Dipped and … did something. Fugly, fugly, fugly. That was NOT a split jerk. My feet were maybe 6″ apart (back to front), and I push pressed that 180.5# overhead to lockout.

Seeing as how my 1RM C&J is 185… I’m pretty stoked about hitting 180-and change with no strength training to speak of, and I’ve missed a lot of workouts lately.

Also, seeing as how my strict press is only 155, I’m pretty sure I could improve on that too. 180.5#’s, on a 4th heavy lift, and after a met con? Dude, my PR’s clearly have a LOT of headroom.

TL:DR – I came home, paid my $20, signed up for the Open, and entered my score.

Yes, I can do the WODs and get a score. It’s a crap score, but it’s a score.

I’ll take it.

I won’t get top 25% this year, but I’ll get scores. Maybe I’ll quit beating myself up too. Stranger things have happened.

So you want to WIN your CrossFit Open Masters Age Group? Here's what it took in 2014

As soon as I posted a brief analysis of what it took to get into the Master’s Qualifier for Men in the 45-49 age group I immediately received, “This is cool, but what about Women in the [insert age group here]? Do you have that?”

Then I posted a comprehensive table for all age groups and genders. OK, 2 recognized genders, but that’s an entirely different subject best not addressed here….. and I got more questions. “Getting into the Qualifier is good. What did it take to win my age group?” and “What did it take to get to the Games as a 57 year old male?” CrossFitters are a decidedly data driven group. One question at a time…. that’s all I’m capable of (as I often remind my kids).

Here are the averages of the Top-30 finishers’ scores for the 5 CrossFit Open workouts in 2014, broken down by age group.

CrossFit Open 2014 Top 30 Masters all age groups

 Quick refresher:

14.1 (11.1) Double Unders & Snatches
14.2 Ascending Ladder: Overhead squats & Chest-to-Bar pull-ups
14.3 Ascending Ladder: Deadlift & Box Jump
14.4 Chipper: Calorie Row, Toes-to-Bar, Wallballs, Muscle-ups
14.5 Thrusters & Bar-over-Burpees

About the table:

I am doing this  in a very simple way. Pull data from the Games site, drop it in a spreadsheet, and take the average. Nothing more.

Open Questions…..

No doubt several people will wonder, “OK, this is great for winning the Open, but what did it take to win the Master’s Qualifier?” – which is a great question. It is fairly easy to answer, and I plan to do so later on. Bear with me.

Another question that I would like to answer is, “This table is the Top-30 athletes in the Open. What happened during the Masters Qualifier? Did the Top-20 stay the Top-20 and go to the Games, or did other people break into the Top-20 during the Qualifier?”

Short answer – the Top-20 was fairly static, but it did change up a bit. I’m hoping to find time to look at that too.

How did your scores compare, and are you more prepared this year than you were last year? 

What it took to get into the 2014 CrossFit Open Masters Qualifier – All Age Groups

Initially I assessed what it would have taken for a Male in the 45-49 Age Group to get into the Masters Qualifier in 2014. I only did the M45-49 age group because…I’m self-centered that way… Plus, I manually converted the data. Doing 20 entries across 5 WODs was a great way to procrastinate something really important (whatever that may have been at the time).

After sharing this info I got the inevitable, “do you have the data for Women in the 55-59 age group?” – substitute your age and gender.

But manually converting the data for 10 age groups wasn’t going to work because this is a copy and paste from the Games Leaderboard. I had to play around a bit with truncating the strings and converting formats. Well, here goes:

In order to made it into the Top 200 for each Masters Age Group you would have had to perform as follows:

Masters Qualifier 190-210 all Age Groups Open 2014 resized



  • 2015 is NOT 2014. We will not see the same WODs this year.
  • Competition this year will probably be even tougher than last year.
  • The sample is for people who finished from 190th to 210th place. i.e. The folks “on the bubble”
  • The Rx weights change at the 55-59 age group which is why the reps increase for some WODs compared to the 50-54 age group.

This analysis is about qualifying for the Masters Qualifier NOT about WINNING the Masters Qualifier. Heck, it’s not even about what the Top-20 in each age group accomplished during the Open. If you are wondering how you stack up just to get into the Top-200 then this chart is for you.

If I was able to compete and had this as my goal, I would redo 14.1 through 14.5 and see where I was at compared to the 2014 crowd. From there I would assess:

Am I close?
Am I shit out of luck?
If I’m close can I give 5% more in each WOD to break through?

NOTE: I say “I would” redo in purely a theoretical sense because there is NO WAY ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH THAT I WILL EVER DO 14.5 AGAIN. EVER!!!

But you may have a different opinion.

Good luck to everyone doing the 2015 Open, and, if you have a minute, leave me a note letting me know if this information helps you.



So you want to do the CrossFit Open Masters Qualifier? Here’s what you will need to do

In 2014, the CrossFit Open introduced a “Master’s Qualifier.” Instead of the Top-20 Men and Women from each age group getting slots for the Games, the top-200 finishers participated in an “at-home” weekend of WODs in order to qualify for the top 20 slots at the Games.

I don’t get to play in the CrossFit Open this year due to my hip, but after last year’s Games season I put together a quick analysis of what it took to get into the 2014 Master’s Qualifier for Men in the 45-49 Age Group. Truth be told – I was looking to see just how much I would need to improve…. Yet another surgery screwed that pooch for 2015.

I took the results for men who finished from 190th to 210th place in the 2014 Open in the 45-49 age group and did a quick average and standard deviation for each 2014 Open WOD result. Without further adieu… Here’s what you would have needed to produce in order to get invited to participate in the 2014 Master’s Qualifier:

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Why 190-210 when it was the “top 200” who qualified for the Master’s Qualifier?

I was trying to get a feel for what it might take to qualify. Given that people’s results varied by each workout I wanted to get results that are a bit more global. You could look only at the 200th place finisher’s results, but that is not representative of an average. I chose not to take an average of all 200 top finishers because results vary widely between the Top-20 and the guys down the ladder at 199 and 200.

FYI, I also screen scraped the self-reported 1 rep max lifts and times for the Girls and will post that later. It’s less accurate due to less data and non-judged results, but it’s also very interesting data to consider.

Yes, I also have the results for the Top-30 men in this age group too. Will be posting a comparison between the Top-20 and the Top 190-210 a bit later.

Yes, I am a math nerd. Did you think otherwise?