Bigger, Stronger, Faster: Ranch Repeats Show Progression Of Fittest

October 23, 2020 by
Courtesy of CrossFit LLC

Day 1 was Deja Vu at the Ranch. The first event, “2007 Reload,” paid homage to the original CrossFit Games opening event, which featured a 1,000-meter row into 5 rounds of 25 pull-ups and 7 push jerks at 135 pounds for the men and 85 pounds for the women. The 2020 version of this event increased the difficulty by adding 500 meters to the row, scaled up bar muscle-ups from pull-ups, and nearly doubled the weight on the barbell.

One big thing: In a strange coincidence, Mat Fraser crossed the finish line in 13:07 to tie the original winner of the Hopper workout, Brett Marshall, from 2007. Fraser’s tie with Marshall shows the immense amount of progress that Games athletes have made at the top levels in the past 13 years. However, it was not the only test that athletes would repeat on the first day.

The events: On day one of the 2020 CrossFit Games, all five workouts tested were a variation of a previous CrossFit Games event.

  • Event 1: The athletes started their day with “2007 Reload,” a callback to the original first workout of the CrossFit Games featured in 2007 and also retested again in 2013.
  • Event 2: The second event of the day paid tribute to the 2009 Sandbag Hill Sprint. However, the 2020 version featured nearly double the distance (320 versus 170 meters), despite the sandbag weight being slightly lighter (70/35# for 2009 and 50/30# for 2020).
  • Event 3: The third event of the day was the CrossFit Total, which challenged athletes not only against each other but allowed for comparisons to both the 2018 and 2007 CrossFit Games, the other two times the Total was tested.
  • Event 4: Later in the day, the athletes were informed that they would be performing the same handstand sprint walk event from 2016. However, this time, it would have an additional 20 yards tacked on to the end.
  • Event 5: To cap off the day, athletes faced a throwback to the Ranch trail run from 2007 but with a mega twist that would take the Fittest Man on Earth nearly an hour to complete.

2007 Reload: While Fraser’s 13:07 finish demonstrated the immense strides in fitness that these athletes have made over the past 13 years, it wasn’t the only marker that demonstrated this.

  • In 2013, the first athlete off the 1,000-meter row was Jason Khalipa with a 3:20 finish. This year, Adler was the first athlete to finish the 1500 meter row with a time of 5:11, meaning that his average 500-meter split was just 3 seconds over Jason’s 2013 1:40 average split for his 1,000-meter row. Had Khalipa been forced to row another 500 meters at his average split pace for the workout, Adler and Fraser would only have lost to him by just a minute, not even factoring in for the difficulty of the bar muscle-ups, or the increase in weight.
  • In 2013, both Fraser and Medeiros would have beat the 44th place finisher of the 2007 workout, Aja Barto, despite moving 3,500 more pounds of weight across the course of the entire workout and rowing 500 additional meters.
  • In 2013, Tia-Clair Toomey would have taken a 29th place finish overall in the workout finishing just a few seconds behind Lindy Barber. Second place finisher Haley Adams would have finished 33rd, just ahead of Kara Saunders and Stacie Tovar, without factoring in for the increase in distance on the row, difficulty of gymnastics, or increased weight.
  • In 2007, only 2 women finished the Hopper workout under the 20-minute time cap. This year, the slowest woman finished in 15:45, which was still faster than the winning time in 2007 set by eventual champion Jolie Gentry.

The Cornsack Sprint: This year, we saw the athletes once again take on the dreaded hill sprint at the Ranch. While the weight might have been lighter in this iteration, the distance nearly doubled. In looking at the numbers, it seems that the athletes who took on the workout today knew that the distance would be their downfall if they came out too hot. In both the women’s and the men’s categories, the split times were significantly slower than the 2009 event finishes even with lighter sandbags.

  • In 2009, Annie Thorisdottir took first place for the women with a time of 1:07, compared to 2020 event winner Tia-Clair Toomey’s split time of 1:15 at the 170 meter mark.
  • In 2009, Sveinbjorn Sveinbjornsson took 1st with a final time of 1:01. A lightning-fast pace compared to Fraser’s 1:18 split time at the halfway marker of today’s Cornsack Sprint event.
  • With her 170m mark time, Tia would have finished in 14th place overall, even with the lighter sandbag and Mat would have finished in 44th place.

It is important to take into consideration the difficulty of the remaining terrain beyond the 170-meter marker set back in 2009. The increasingly steep hill and the bottleneck at the top towards the finish line make it so that this workout isn’t simply almost double what the athletes in 2009 did. If the athletes of 2009 were forced to perform this workout, it would be unlikely that they would be able to hold the same pace as they hit the steep hill at the top.

Courtesy of CrossFit LLC

The CrossFit Total: Similar to the “2007 Reload” event that kicked off the day, this is also the third time we’ve seen the CrossFit Total on the floor at the CrossFit Games. The first time we saw it was back at the original CrossFit Games in 2007 at the Ranch. We then saw it again in 2018 before it finally made a reappearance this year.

  • In 2007, Nichole Dehart won the CrossFit total on the women’s side with a total of 530 pounds. To win the total in 2020, you’ll need to increase that number by nearly 70% to 890 pounds, which was the number that gave Tia-Clair Toomey the event win today.
  • On the men’s side, Jeffry Adler took home the win with a 1.5% increase (1,244 pounds) on the original CrossFit Total in 2007 set by Connor Banks at 1,225.
  • If Banks had competed today, he would have come in 3rd place besting Ohlsen by 25 pounds.
  • If Adler went head to head with the top 5 overall men from 2018 in the CrossFit Total, he would have finished just 6 pounds behind second-place finisher Patrick Vellner who lifted 1,250 that year.
  • Fraser beat his own CrossFit total by 22 pounds, improving in every lift across the board.
  • If you compare numbers on the women’s side to 2018, both Tia and Brooke would have beaten all women on the field by at least 15 and 9 pounds respectively.
Courtesy of CrossFit LLC

The Handstand Sprint: In 2016, we saw a 280-foot handstand walk. Today, the distance increased by 20 feet, but the times didn’t slow down.

  • The top three women from 2020 all beat Katrin Davidsdottir’s time in 2016. In fact, even Katrin Davidsdottir beat her former score when you adjust for distance. Overall, Katrin walked 19% faster than she did in 2016 over a longer distance.
  • The top three men and the top four women all outpaced the 2016 handstand walk champion, Jacob Heppner, in terms of speed. All three men walked a minimum of 12% faster than Heppner with Mat Fraser walking 81% faster than the fastest handstand walker in 2016.
  • Factoring in pacing, even the last-place finisher in the men’s division, Jeffry Adler, would have come in 4th place overall in 2016, walking a solid .29 meters per second faster than 5th place finisher Travis Williams.
Courtesy of CrossFit LLC

The big picture: It’s clear that CrossFit has come a long way since 2007. Not only are the athletes who walked into the Ranch this weekend bigger, faster, and stronger than the athletes of 2007, the game itself has changed entirely. We’re seeing heavier, harder, and more technical workouts. And yet, despite these challenges, the athletes are still managing to keep up. Across the course of the entire first day, the workouts gave us a near 75% increase in weight and almost double the distance on one event. The question for the rest of the week will be, how can Dave Castro continue to challenge these athletes, and what tests of fitness will truly find not just the Fittest on Earth currently, but the fittest person to date.

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