If you’re interested in the CrossFit Games, then you’re in the right place. Consider this your definitive guide to basically everything you need to know about this up and coming athletic event.
What are the CrossFit Games?
The CrossFit Games is an athletic event that’s fast becoming more and more popular around the world. It’s sponsored by Reebok and CrossFit headquarters and it’s well-known for some serious competition. The winners are crowned the fittest man or woman in the world.
The athletes have to complete workouts that they learn about only days or hours beforehand. Some things are predictable, such as weightlifting, rope climbing, rowing, assault bike, and running. However, there are always a few surprises thrown in like cycle-cross, ocean swimming, throwing random objects, and interesting obstacle courses.
Each event is worth 100 points and the competition consists of around 14 events spread out over 4-5 days. Points are earned based on finishing place, down to 0 points for a 40th place finish.
When are the CrossFit Games?
The CrossFit Games are held once a year in late July or early August and take place over a number of days.
Where are the CrossFit Games Held?
In 2007 and 2008, the Games were held in Aromas, California. After that they moved to Carson, California because they outgrew their previous venue.
Finally, in 2017, the games moved to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin. It looks like this might be their permanent venue for years to come.
How Much Does the Winner of the CrossFit Games Get?
Let’s talk CrossFit Games prize money. Sponsorship money has grown significantly since 2007 and the prize money for the athletes has reflected this. In the inaugural games, the male and female winner each got $500. These days, the winner gets $300,000.
CrossFit Games Tickets
If you’d like to attend the Games in Madison, Wisconsin, then be prepared to shell out a bit of cash. For 2019, a pass to all the events OUTSIDE the coliseum is $99 for the week. Included in the package is access to the beer garden which has a screen with everything happening on the inside.
If you’d like both inside and outside access, prices range from $225-500 for a reserved seat. The price depends on the location of your seat inside the coliseum.
CrossFit Games Apparel
If you want to know what your favourite athletes are wearing, and also what you can buy at the venue, then you’ll need to head over to Reebok’s website. They are the official sponsors of the Games and you can find their gear there exclusively.
Here are some of the top picks: CrossFit Games Apparel from Reebok.
Behind the Scenes at the Games with CrossFit Mayhem Freedom
How Many Events in the CrossFit Games?
If you want to know how many events are in the individual competition of the CrossFit Games, the answer is around 13-15. It actually just depends on the year and what the organizers have in store for the athletes.
In 2016, there was 15 events over 5 days. 2017 brought 13 events over 4 days. In 2018, there were 14 events over the same 4 days.
CrossFit Games Events
As far as which events you can commonly see, there is no good answer for that! The organizers are very creative and like to come up with new stuff each year. That said, to see what has been historically done, search for “CrossFit Games (year) Wikipedia” for a nice list of events.
The Individual Murph at the Games
When Did the CrossFit Games Start?
The first CrossFit Games was held in 2007 and was a small, casual kind of affair. It was held at Dave Castro’s ranch (more about him in the next section). For the first two years, the games were open to anyone who showed up for them.
These days, it’s grown into a multi-million dollar affair and it’s shown no signs of slowing down in terms of popularity. With this popularity means that it’s no longer a matter of just showing up, but you have to qualify through regional competitions in order to attend.
In 2019, CrossFit’s founder, Greg Glassman overhauled the format. The major change was that regionals were replaced with CrossFit sanctioned international qualifying events.
Also, any four competitors from any gym can form a team. In this past, athletes had to be affiliated with the same organization.
Who Organizes the CrossFit Games?
Dave Castro is the man behind the games and is the one who decides which events you’ll see. He aims to test the fitness of athletes as well as make it a spectacle for the spectators. You’re sure to find some creative, interesting events!
How to Qualify for the Games
Between 2009 and 2018, you had to qualify for the games through the regionals. However, a new change in 2019 meant that there were now three routes that could get you there.
#1: The Open
The CrossFit Open was introduced in 2011 and takes place over a matter of week. Every Thursday night, a workout is released and athletes have to submit their scores by Monday. It must be confirmed by a CrossFit affiliate or verified by video.
Based on these workouts, the top athlete from each country, and the top 20 overall finishers will qualify directly for the Games.
These workouts are also used for seeding purposes if an athlete qualifies through another route (option 2 or 3). If the Open workouts are not done, the athlete will be placed at the bottom.
#2: Sanctioned Events
For 2020, there are 21 sanctioned CrossFit events. Many top athletes use these as training for the Games. However, if they win, they’ll head directly to the Games, and if they win multiple events, the runner-up will be eligible to enter.
#3: By Invite
The organizers will invite up to 4 athletes of each gender who did not qualify in some other way. We are happy to hear about this because it may mean not missing out on our favourite CrossFit athletes who were injured or unable to participate in qualifying for some reason.
CrossFit Games Divisions
There are a number of divisions at the games, including the following:
This is by far the most popular event at the CrossFit Games. The winner is crowned the fittest on Earth and the first place prize currently stands at an impressive $300,000.
In 2009, the team event became a separate event and consisted of 4-6 athletes from the same gym. The year after that, the teams consisted of 3 men and 3 women from the same box.
A change in 2018 was that each team consisted of 2 men and 2 women.
Finally, in 2019, the stipulation that team members needed to be from the same gym was removed, however the numbers of men and women remained the same.
The qualification process is much the same as for individuals.
This is a competition for athletes older than 35. There are currently six divisions for each men and women: 35–39, 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, and 60+.
Qualification for both masters and teens happens through an online competition that follows the Open. The top 200 athletes are invited to participate in a qualifier where the 20 fittest athletes from that are chosen to compete in the Games (only 10 in 2019).
A teen division was added to the games in 2015. The age ranges are 14-15, and 16-17 for boys and girls.
There currently is no CrossFit Kids Games and we haven’t heard of this being offered in the future.
How to Train for the CrossFit Games?
Okay, so you’re an aspiring CrossFit Games athlete? The first thing to keep in mind is that it’s often a long road for most people filled with years of hard training. The best athletes often don’t have day jobs—training is their full-time job so unless you’re able to commit at least a few hours each day to training, it may be difficult to compete at the highest level.
That is of course, unless you’re already a top athlete in another sport such as track, football, weightlifting or gymnastics. In this case, you can often make the crossover in a much shorter amount of time.
Besides that, there are a few recommended steps to follow:
Join a CrossFit Affiliate
The best way to get up to speed for CrossFit is to join a local gym in your area and train under someone. You’ll learn proper technique, the lingo and all you need to know about gear, etc.
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with some of the most common exercises:
These are only just a few of them. There are lots more to learn!
In addition, you’ll also be able to measure yourself against some of the other top athletes there during workouts. When you’re placing near the top during most workouts, it may be time to consider entering some competitions.
Train Hard and Eat Clean
Elite CrossFitters typically train six days a week with one rest day. The fittest athletes generally work out twice a day as well. It’s a lot, and their days often consist mostly of eating (4-6 meals/day), working out, looking after their bodies (massages, physiotherapy, etc.) and getting enough sleep.
You don’t have to follow any specific diet, although you should strive to eat as clean as possible and avoid the junk food. Think of your body as a high performance machine. You wouldn’t put cheap oil or gas in there, would you? No! You’d want the best.
That said, many CrossFitters do follow the Zone Diet, or the Paleo Diet.
Try Some Classic Workouts
You’ll want to test yourself with some of these CrossFit Wod’s known as “The Girls.” For example, Cindy, Fran, Jackie, Barbara or Elizabeth.
Look up some of the times of the fittest athletes in the world and you’ll know whether or not you’re on track. There are lots of videos on YouTube of athletes doing these workouts for some inspiration.
Replicate Previous Years CrossFit Games Events
Another common training method is to check and see what has been done at previous CrossFit Games in terms of workouts. Replicate them as closely as possible with the equipment and conditions you have at your disposal.
Of course, things like the obstacle course will be quite difficult to do on your own. However, the weightlifting workouts should be particularly easy to do from anywhere in the world.
Join the Open
The main way to qualify for the Games is through the Open. Sign up in mid-January and then get ready to compete for five weeks starting in late February.
Measure and Assess
How did you do in the benchmark WODs and the Open? Evaluate your results and see how you can improve. Of course, a coach can help you with this in a big way.
Avoid Performance Enhancing Drugs
Like most other professional sports organization, CrossFit does regular drug testing and takes infractions quite seriously. Two notable athletes who have received bans from competition in recent years include Ryan Elrod (2 years) and Ricky Garard (4 years)
A Day of Training for the Games
Who are the Winners of the CrossFit Games?
The winners in the individual and team categories are as follows:
|2007||James Fitzgerald||Jolie Gentry||CrossFit Santa Cruz|
|2008||Jason Khalipa||Caity Matter||CrossFit Oakland|
|2009||Mikko Salo||Tanya Wagner||Northwest CrossFit|
|2010||Graham Holmberg||Kristan Clever||CrossFit Fort Vancouver|
|2011||Rich Froning Jr.||Annie Thorisdottir||CrossFit New England|
|2012||Rich Froning Jr.||Annie Thorisdottir||Hack’s Pack UTE|
|2013||Rich Froning Jr.||Samantha Briggs||Hack’s Pack UTE|
|2014||Rich Froning Jr.||Camille Leblanc-Bazinet||CrossFit Invictus|
|2015||Ben Smith||Katrín Tanja Davíðsdóttir||CrossFit Mayhem Freedom|
|2016||Mathew Fraser||Katrín Tanja Davíðsdóttir||CrossFit Mayhem Freedom|
|2017||Mathew Fraser||Tia-Clair Toomey||Wasatch CrossFit|
|2018||Mathew Fraser||Tia-Clair Toomey||CrossFit Mayhem Freedom|
Some other CrossFit Games athletes who are always in the running for the podium include the following:
CrossFit Games Drug Policy
According to the organizers of the Games, they have a strict anti-doping policy. Each year, they expand their efforts and methods for testing. A breach of these regulations results in a ban from competition (usually 2-4 years).
The drug testing can happen during competition, but also at any random, unannounced time throughout the year. It’s common knowledge that the top athletes you might see on the podium have tested cleanly at regular intervals.
That said, although there is a strict anti-drug policy, some have wondered why this organization doesn’t use an outside organization to administer the tests like Major League Baseball for example. This is done to ensure tests are completely free of bias.
Find out more details here: Are Steroids a Problem in CrossFit?
How to Watch the CrossFit Games
What channel are the CrossFit Games on? Well, of course it depends on where you live and what cable package you have so please check your local listings. However, it should be easier than ever to watch them.
New for 2019 is an open-source broadcast model where around 30 media outlets will receive a feed so that they can distribute it however form they want on any platform or channel. This will allow fans in many countries to watch the Games in their own language. This is unique among sporting events where unique rights are often given.
This will allow fans, traditional broadcasters and niche media sites to air the CrossFit Games in whatever way they choose.
As far as a CrossFit Games live stream goes, stay tuned to the official website and YouTube channel and you should be able to find what you’re looking for.
CrossFit Games Documentary
Some of our favourite documentaries about the games include the following:
- The Redeemed and the Dominant (available on Netflix)
- Froning: The Fittest Man in History
- Every Second Counts
- Fittest in Dubai
- Fittest on Earth (various years)
- Road to the Games (YouTube)
- Rory McKernan’s videos (YouTube)
Check out some of them on Amazon:
CrossFit Games on Social Media
If you want to follow the happenings and your favourite athletes at the CrossFit Games, then you’ll need to find them on social media:
Can’t find the CrossFit Games on Facebook? That’s because they suspended their account effective May 23, 2019. This will remain until further notice.
Road to the Games: Smith/Davisdottir
Have your Say about this Up and Coming Athletic Event!
What are your thoughts about this popular competition to find the fittest on Earth? Do you have any questions that we didn’t answer? We’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below.
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Last update on 2020-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API