Category: math

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.

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.

CrossFit Open Scoring Part 5 – What about people who drop out of the Open? How does that affect my score?

Follow-up to Part 4 of my series on how the CrossFit Open is scored. In Part 4 I think that I proved that each WOD is basically equivalent to every other WOD when it comes to your Overall Ranking.

Question 2 was, “Is it more important to do good in earlier WODs than the later ones because people drop out?”

To that I say, “Yes, absolutely yes.”

First off, how does HQ rank dropouts in the Overall standings?

Once a person does not submit a score for a WOD they are no longer considered in the Overall rankings; however, their previous scores DO still count in point totals. Explanation: Dave does 15.1 and 15.2, but he does not submit a score for 15.3. His scores for 15.1 and 15.2 remain in effect. They are not deleted.

Dave receives a 0 for 15.3 and is no longer considered in the Overall Leaderboard.

Suppose Dave comes back and submits a score on 15.4. Can he do that? Yes. His score will be accepted. You can even sort by “Open Week 4” and see how Dave stacks up compared to his peer group, but Dave will receive 0 points for 15.4, and he will not be factored into the overall Leaderboard. i.e. He is out of the Open.

But how do Dave’s earlier scores affect other people?

The best way I can think of to explain is to create a scenario.

Steve and Phil are mortal enemies in their box. Actually, they are buddies who love to compete against each other. Normally they are within 1 rep of each other on WODs. For 15.1 Steve recruits 1,000 people to compete. He also pays their entry fee. Don’t worry, Steve was pre-IPO at Facebook, so he’s loaded.

Phil hits 200 reps in 15.1. In their box they have a custom leaderboard. Steve gets 201 reps. He has 1 more rep than Phil. Normally this would put Steve one place ahead of Phil. Steve would get 100 points for 15.1, and Phil would get 101 points. (assuming there are 100 people in their box who did better than 201 reps…)

But Steve set it up to win. His 1,000 recruits also got 201 reps. Now Steve and his recruits each have 100 points, and Phil, one rep lower, receives 1,101 points. This is because 1,001 people tied in 100th place at 201 reps.

Then Steve’s 1,000 recruits drop out of the Open and do not log a score for 15.2. Guess what? Their scores still count for 15.1, and Steve and Phil are still 1,001 points apart on the Leaderboard. Yep, Steve is clearly an asshole.

Why does this work? With every WOD it’s the point differential that matters. Normally Steve and Phil are equal or 1 rep apart. If Phil beats Steve by 1 rep for 15.2, 15.3, and 15.4 then Phil will net 3 points in his life-or-death battle with Phil. That is 1 point for each WOD that he beats Steve. In his chase to beat Steve, Phil will end the Open 998 points behind Steve. Phil’s ploy worked as he created an insurmountable lead with his minions.

How does this affect you? Clearly the example above is crazy, but it’s illustrative. There is normally a 10%-15% weekly dropout rate. People who were ahead of you in 15.1 or 15.2 and dropped out still count against your total point count.

If HQ removed these people entirely from the Leaderboard your 15.1 and 15.2 scores would improve possibly by up to 5%. In Steve and Phil’s case, after the minions drop out Phil would get 1,000 points back and once again be neck-and-neck with Phil. People who perform better in earlier WODs benefit from having a padding of dropouts between them and other people who are lower down on the Leaderboard.

Let’s make this applicable to a mid-pack athlete. If 10,000 people drop out of the Open every week, and generally speaking, 50% of them are above you on the Leaderboard would this impact your Overall standing? People on the higher end of the Leaderboard will see less impact. People on the lower end of the Leaderboard will see a larger impact.

Should HQ zero out an athlete’s earlier placement when they drop out of the Open?

Yes, I think they should. Keeping scores from early WODs inflates the importance of the earlier WODs and makes it tougher to march up the Leaderboard. As I mentioned in Part 4 of this series for people who continue to post scores each WOD has about the same level of importance. However, there is an influence from people who drop out of the Open.

That said, I will add that I think it’s great that HQ allows you to enter scores even after you dropout. You can see where you would have placed if you had continuous scores.

CrossFit Open Scoring Part 4: Does 15.1 Count More than 15.4 because of… ???

I received a great question, “Do the earlier Open WODs have more of an impact on your standing than the later WODs?” I really struggled to make a cogent argument here because the answer that I figured out runs counter to my assumptions.

For my other explanations on CrossFit Open Scoring you can look here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

There was also a second part, “If someone drops out of the Open how does that affect my current ranking?” which I will address later.

Usual disclaimer – I don’t work for HQ. I have no relationship with HQ other than that I paid my $20 and entered the Open and I live closer to HQ than most people in the Open. My answers are based on looking at the math of the Leaderboard.

Let’s start with Question 1 – do different WODs count for more or less for a person’s ranking in the Open?

Mathematically speaking all of the WODs count the same for your final ranking. For each WOD:

  • the winner gets 1 point
  • the person who finishes in 1,000th place gets 1,000 points
  • the person who finished in 100,000th place gets 100,000 points

OK. That’s a simple answer, “All WODs count equally.” We’re done here.

It is true that each WOD (15.1, 15.1A, 15.2, etc) count equally, but it is actually a bit more complicated than that. My gut reaction was that the early WODs had a larger impact on Overall ranking because of the decay in participation over the course of the Open.

In total, about 150,000 men registered for the Open. About 130,000 submitted scores for 15.1 and 15.1A. If you do not submit a score for a given WOD you are no longer counted in the Overall rankings. About 115,000 Men submitted scores for 15.2. For 15.3 the total number of active participants dropped to almost 96,000. That’s almost a 25% drop in participation from Open Week 1 to Open Week 3. My gut told me that fewer participants meant there would be fewer people tied at certain scores.

Let’s look at my score in 15.1 where I had 115 reps. Toes-to-bar, why didst thou depart me?

that 115 reps ranked me in 72,990th place overall. One more rep (116 reps) would have bumped me up to 70,682nd place – a point differential of 2,308. One fewer rep My peer group Overall as of 15.3would have dropped me in the standings down to 75,269th place – a point differential of 2,279 points.

15.1 (AMRAP, total time)
116 reps place: 70,682
115 reps place: 72,990  (+2,308 points)
114 reps place: 75,269 (+2,279 points)

My initial reaction to the question was simple – fewer participants means fewer people submitting tie scores therefore lower point differentials. Then I took a look at 15.3 and saw that my initial reaction may not be correct. Somehow I found that mythical beast called “muscle up” and was able to complete one round in 15.3 for 157 points.

But there was a BIG difference between 15.1 and 15.3 – besides the muscle ups. In 15.3 there was a tiebreak (the elapsed time when you completed the round). In 15.1 there was no tiebreak, so everyone who got 115 reps received the exact same score. In 15.3 there was a gradation of scores for everyone who got 157 reps. If you look at the Leaderboard a little closer and ignore the tie-break the point spreads for “1 rep more” and “1 rep less” are almost the same as in 15.1.

15.3 (AMRAP, with time based tie-break)
158 reps starts at: 53,005
157 reps starts at: 54,575 (+1,570 points)
156 reps starts at: 57,264 (+2,689 points)

One rep more in 15.1 was worth 2,308 spots on the Leaderboard.
One rep more in 15.3 was worth 1,570 spots on the Leaderboard – for me.

One rep less in 15.1 was worth 2,279 spots on the leaderboard.
One rep less in 15.3 was worth 2,689 spots on the Leaderboard – for me.

I’d call that almost equal, so what is going on?

Since my personal scores are not indicative of the whole, I looked at this for a few people (10 total), but I don’t have either the data or the time required for a truly exhaustive analysis.

Here’s my story – we are not dealing with a simple system.

If this were a 100 question test that 150,000 people took we would see a normal distribution. But what we are dealing with is a semi-continuous system. In the Open there are clear breaking points. In 15.3 for example that break point was 157. i.e. 1 full round. In 15.1 there were three break points – at 15, 10 and 5. Sure, people score all over the place, but there will be some groupings due to human nature.

Another thing that changes is how HQ scores the WODs. If 15.1 had a tie-break there would not be the large groupings of points that we see clustered around certain scores. 15.3 is a great example of that. There were 2,689 men who tied, based on reps, at 157. Because of the tiebreak (time to finish complete round) there was a distribution of scores instead of 2,689 of people grouped up at one score.

Simple answer – each WOD does count equally, but there are factors that can affect your ranking. Tie-breaks are one of those factors. Your buddy who did one less rep than you in 15.1 was 2,000+ points behind you on the leaderboard. If the same buddy tied you on 15.3 he may actually be in better shape on the leaderboard depending on your tiebreak time. If he scored 1 less rep than you in 15.3 then he is probably 2,000+ points behind you for 15.3 just like he was in 15.1.

I’m a bit surprised, but it looks like 15.1 does not receiver a heavier weighting due to having more people compete and log scores.

Of course this will vary depending on your personal scores in each WOD, but it holds pretty much true. How HQ scores each WOD has more of an impact than which WOD it is.

I will say it again – this is not exhaustive. I checked scores for 10 people and found similar phenomena between 15.1 and 15.3. For some people the scores varied slightly more for 15.3 than for 15.1, and for others the scores for 15.1 varied more than for 15.3.

If you have other data that contradicts my information please share it.

Check back in a day or two for the answer to, “If someone drops out of the Open how does that affect my current ranking?”

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


CrossFit Open Scoring Part 3 – Do Scaled WODs affect the Masters Qualifier?

Update, March 19th: Athletes in all Masters categories who choose to perform the scaled version of Workout 15.4, or previously chose to scale Workout 15.3, will still be eligible to advance to the Masters Qualifier. They will be ranked below all athletes who performed the Rx’d versions, but will not be ineligible for the next stage of competition.

Short answer – Scaled WODs do not affect the Masters Qualifier because you have to Rx all WODs and finish in the Top 200 Worldwide of your age group in order to advance.

But here’s the longer answer that I wrote up before that confirmation was available.

In Part 1 we covered how the Open is scored.

In Part 2 we covered how scores from Scaled WODs are calculated for the Overall Leaderboard.

For this edition, Part 3, let’s look at how (if) Scaled WODs affects the Master’s Qualifier (MQ).

The rules on are pretty clear on the Master’s Qualifier. The top 200 finisher’s in each age group will be invited to perform 4 additional WODs starting on April 23rd for the purpose of determining the Top 20 who go to the Games.

So that gives us 2 phases that are really important to people. Getting into the Masters Qualifier and then getting from there to the Games. Let’s face it, only about the Top 40 in each Age Group have a shot at getting to the Games. That said, I, and man other people, would be hellaciously stoked just to make it to the Top 200. Most folks would love to make into the Masters Qualifier and get to those additional 4 WODs. Seeing as how I’m sitting just south of 2,000th place, it’s not really an issue for me…. this year (gotta have goals).

But enough about me. Each athlete in the Masters Qualifier will have 5 scores for Games selection. They have a score based on their finishing position in the Open and  a score for each MQ WOD.

So where is the confusion?

What happens if a Masters athlete does 1 or more Scaled WODs in the Open and still finishes in the Top 200 of their age group?

The rulebook is very clear on this:

Section 9.d.: Athletes who select a scaled workout in the Open will not be eligible for advancement to the next stage of the competition as Individual competitors.”

But what if an athlete places very high in their Masters age-group and Scales only one WOD? For example, what if an athlete ranks 35th Overall, and their only Scale was due to the muscle ups in 15.3 but they kicked ass in the other WODs?

More importantly, is this a useless hypothetical question that math nerds like to argue but doesn’t really impact a single person?Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 10.22.37 AM

Good news and bad news.

It’s a real question that does impact some people. If you are Male it is unlikely to affect you. If you are Male and aged 40-44 it definitely does NOT affect you. There are already 1,400 people who have Rx’d every WOD and will likely Rx the next 2 WODs.

If you are Female and looking at a slot in the Top 200 then it probably does affect you.

I scanned through the Leaderboard (Overall) to find out where the first person with a Scaled WOD score appears in the Overall rankings. This chart shows their Overall position (all WODs not just 15.3). In Women 45-49, a person with a Scaled WOD (15.3) is in 35th place Overall.

Note: This is as of Tuesday afternoon. There is still time for Affiliates to validate more scores. Though this 35th place will change it is not likely to fall below 200th place.

What does this mean for the Masters Qualifier?

Will people with Scaled scores be allowed to advance?

I don’t know.


Update: from HQIn order to advance to the Masters Qualifier you must submit a valid Rx score for all of the Open workouts and place in the top 200 overall of your division. Submitting a Scaled score or not submitting a score at all will disqualify you from the Masters Qualifier. Let me know if you have any further questions and good luck!”


I know that the rules are very clear. The answer is they “will not be eligible for advancement.” That said, there are 2 weeks left in the Open. That is 2 opportunities for The Dave Castro to throw some shakeups into the CrossFit World. Maybe there will be another special WOD that requires a critical movement like muscle-ups that puts more people into the Scaled WOD and knocks them out of the Top 200.

A person in the CF Masters FaceBook group emailed HQ and asked about what will happen if someone has a Scaled WOD and finishes in the Top 200 of their Masters Age Group – HQ replied to her email with  “we will evaluate after the Open.”

If you are currently in 201st place and have done all WODs Rx that may mean you have hope that HQ will remove anyone who Scaled and advance the Top 200 who Rx’d.

If you are currently in the Top 200 and you did a Scaled WOD that may mean you have hope that HQ will keep you in the mix. But I wouldn’t count on it especially given that Sam Briggs didn’t even make it to the Games last year.

However, it is their competition, and they have the right to adapt the rules if they find it necessary to do so. That’s not a complaint. I think HQ does a great job. It’s just a statement.

As always – on the one hand it sucks to get old. On the other hand, at least us silverbacks have Age Groups to compare ourselves to. If you are 32 years old you get to compare your scores to….some dude named Rich Froning…. Good luck with that.

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



I have 1 goal for Open WOD 15.2….

that goal is …

……to get an answer to one of life’s MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS!!!!

“If someone Scaled 15.1 and Rx’s 15.2 how will their Overall score be calculated?

don’t tell me you aren’t thinking about it too.

Why do I LOVE the CrossFit Open? It’s probably the math

It should come as no surprise that I really enjoy the CrossFit Open. It’s cheap, it’s accessible, it gives me a competitive outlet, and it’s got a ton of cool math for analysis…

Some of it’s real math – like analyzing what it took to qualify as a Masters Athlete in 2014.

Some of it is less meaningful like how each of my WODs ranked, in terms of percentile, against my age-group, within my region based not only on how many people registered for the Open in NorCal 45-49, but also based on how many submitted scores for each WOD. i.e. a “per WOD” tracker in addition to calculating myScreen Shot 2015-03-02 at 3.10.37 PM place based on  how many total people registered in the first place. Here’s a sample of what my tracking spreadsheet looks like.

I love, love, love looking at the results for each workout and how my results varied over time. It was interesting to see my overall position creep slowly upward every week though there were specific WODs where I did not perform well compared to my peers.

Hello 14.5 – in case you were wondering….

Because the Leaderboard allows you to look at so many variables, it’s really fun to grab the data and spin it any way you like.

Did any of this change my training?

Well, yes. After the 2014 Open I looked at how I stacked up, and it was clear that I had a good engine, but I lacked overall strength. To fix that I did a squat cycle. It would have paid off, but the labrum in my right hip chose a point mid-cycle to finally give out. That led to a few months of medical exploration and finally hip surgery. That sucked, but the numbers were quite clear on what I need to work on.

Have some fun with it. Check out the leaderboard. Don’t just look at how you rank compared to the elite. Look at how you rank compared to the people around you – the people in your box – or the people you’d see if you did a local competition.

Want a copy of the spreadsheet so you can do your own tracking? Send me an email or post a comment, and I’ll get it to you.


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


CrossFit Open Scoring – Demystified…. or maybe presented in a completely confusing manner.

Lot of discussion about ” how is the CrossFit Open scored ” and how the rankings are done. Here’s an attempt to explain.

First off – don’t put any serious thought into your scores and ranking until Tuesday or Wednesday. Scores are due by 5pm Pacific time, and then the affiliate has time to validate. Thus many scores “appear” Tuesday throughout the day. Until all of the scores are in things will be tremendously in flux. Look at the Leaderboard all you want, but be prepared to find that things change often until scores are finalized.

There are two terms that are applicable: Score and Place.

“Score” is an absolute number. It’s how many reps you got on 15.1 or the max weight you Clean and Jerked on 15.1A. Your Score does not change.

“Place” is a relative number, and it can change. If you did the most reps on 15.1 then you are in 1st “place.” If you did the 2nd most reps on 15.1 then you are in 2nd “place.” Your Place changes frequently until all of the Scores have been posted.

Looking only at 15.1, let’s say you are a 45-49 year old male and got a score of 115 reps 15.1. At the time of this writing that would put you in in 669th place for the ageScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.55.05 PM group. Anyone else who scored 115 reps would also be in 669th place.

If you scored 114 reps, one less than 115, would you be one back in 670th place? No. You would be in 715th place. Because 46 other people also scored 115 reps. Because 46 people tied at 115 reps that means that 46 people were in 669th place.

669 + 46 = 715, so that one rep cost you 46 points in 15.1.

Oh yeah. Points.

Points are equal to your place in the WOD. If you finish in 1st place you get 1 point.

If you did 115 reps and finished in 669th place you get 669 Points.

So if you did 114 reps (just one less than your buddy) you are in 715th Place. This is where the big point spreads come in. It’s really easy to see situations where 200 people have the same score, so a person with one less rep will see a 200 point differential for the WOD.

If you look at the leaderboard and sort by “Open Week 1” you will see a Score and a Place in the “Workout 01” column. It will read “669 (115)” which means you are in 669th place, and your score was 115.

OK, that was for an individual WOD.

How is the score calculated for Overall place?

For this we use your Points (or per WOD Place).

For 15.1 you scored 115 reps, and your Place was 669. So you have 669 points. Then we look at your Place for 15.1A. The current leader in 15.1A lifted 295#’s in 15.1A. His “score” is 295, and his Place is 1. We combine his points for 15.1, 669 points, with his points for 15.1A, 1 point.

669 + 1 = 670. His “Overall” points were 670.

Take that 670 and compare it to everyone else’s Overall points put him in 259th Place Overall. Look on the far left column of the Leaderboard, and you would see that numbers like “259 (670)” – where 259 is his overall place, and 670 is his running total of points.

So, for each specific WOD, your Score determines your Place, and your Place determines your Points.

It may seem odd that a person will do less reps than you in a WOD and then lift only a little bit heavier and be many places ahead of you overall. That’s because the Points and Placing can swing greatly depending on where you Place.

In the end it’s all about adding your Place for each WOD. If a bunch of people have tie scores, there can be huge gaps in your points and big swings in the Leaderboard.

Wondering how you might place in the Open? Here’s how the 2014 Master’s Qualifier played out.


If you are looking for reasons to DO to the Open – here are 10 Reasons to do the Open that I posted previously.

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