Four Takeaways From The Masters Fitness Collective Championships
The Masters Fitness Collective Championship represented one of the first major live CrossFit competitions to occur in over 160 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Morning Chalk Up’s own Tommy Marquez and Patrick Clark were there providing coverage of the masters-only event that featured more than 90 athletes competing across 14 divisions. They provide their top takeaways from this past weekend’s action in Fort Wayne, IN.
An exercise in futility: C.J. Martin is notorious for programming some of the hardest workouts for the athletes in the Invictus stable. The athletes who stick with it and survive are often rewarded with great success in the sport. He’s one of the best when it comes to providing the tests necessary to find the best athletes. So when he was tapped to come up with the events for the MFCC, competing athletes knew they would be challenged and whoever finished atop the leaderboard after four days deserved to be crowned champion. Martin programmed ten events that hit each fitness module and domain.
What I saw was a lot of athletes who were time-capped including the final event of the competition, “Feeling Legless.” Only 32 total athletes finished that workout (not including Tommy Marquez who jumped in and competed with the 50-54 men’s division, winning the heat over CrossFit legend Ron Ortiz). Three divisions didn’t have a single finisher. Is this a testament of masters athletes being worn down by the final event or the programming? I received mixed answers, but from the athlete perspective they were overall happy with the events. They felt that the tests were very difficult and they all welcomed that challenge.
So despite multiple events without finishers and countless athletes not being able to complete the workout at the end of the day the athletes who stood on the podium on Sunday were the right ones and were rewarded as so.
Masters of the Universe: I’ve seen my fair share of masters athletes competing. I judged this division for the last three years at the Games. Every time I came away in awe of what they could do. People my own age and even those the age of my parents all out-performing anything that I am capable of doing on my best days. Seeing 60-year old Patricia Claro doing handstand walks (by the way check out her story and journey to the competition) or 65-year old George Koch stringing bar muscle-ups together was inspiring.
This collection of former Games athletes and hopefuls put on a display in Fort Wayne. Watching them compete was an honor and for the organizers of the MFCC to put this competition on for them was also impressive. They gave these amazing athletes the end of the season that they deserved. Some of these athletes had their first opportunity to compete at the Games taken away from them due to the pandemic, others like Claro were competing in their first-ever competition. They may not get the attention or fanfare of the elite Games athletes but they certainly deserve it.
Live CrossFit Competition Is Possible (And Safe!): This weekend was a prime example of how a CrossFit competition can be run in a manner that is both effective and safe for all the athletes and people involved in putting it together. This doesn’t mean we can just open the flood gates of competition to get everything back to normal, but using the right precautions and protocols, events can mitigate risk and get people back on the competition floor.
Everyone was tested prior to competition with blood based tests that took exactly ten minutes to get results that included a readout of whether or not a person has developed the anti-bodies within a six week period. Tests were made readily available onsite for everyone throughout the weekend as well. Strict cleaning protocols using electrolyzed water — an EPA approved disinfectant for COVID-19 that’s safe even for use on human wounds — were in place to clean after every heat. Any competition will still require a level of trust and an understanding of the role of personal responsibility in participating, but even with a demographic of masters athletes a competition spanning four days with multiple divisions isn’t out of the question.
The Community is a Tremendous Resource: When the CrossFit Games team punted on holding competitions for the Age Group divisions, they put all hope of having some sort of definitive conclusion to the Age Group season in the hands of the community. What they got was three separate groups stepping up to the plate to fill the void in unique and promising ways.
Take this past weekend for example, the competition was the first ever event put on by the Masters Fitness Collective, and not only did they pull off a great competition, they managed to do so before CrossFit could put on the Games. Event director Bobby Petras’ connections via his day job where he owns and operates more than two dozen assisted living facilities gave him unprecedented access to testing and personal protective equipment, as well as insight into cleaning and safety protocols that made the event possible.
This is a prime example of how leaning on the community and the wide swath of people within it can yield tremendous results. CrossFit HQ has largely kept a firm grip on the operations and dealings involved with the Games, but the success of the past weekend warrants at least tossing lines out on a regular basis to seek new resources and information that can benefit the sport as a whole.