Castro Talks All Things 2020 Games on Get With The Programming Podcast

November 19, 2020 by

In his first interview since the completion of the 2020 CrossFit Games, Director of Sport Dave Castro appeared on the Get With The Programming Podcast last week with hosts Chase Ingraham and Bill Grundler. In the interview, Castro talks about the unique challenges the season and the Games presented this year, his commitment to making sure the Games happened and his thoughts and approach to programming the Games and its events.

One big thing: As secretive and cryptic Castro has been when discussing anything regarding the Games, his appearance on the Get With The Programming was a refreshing behind-the-scenes look into the method and the madness that goes into creating the test to find the “Fittest”.

Key Takeaways: In the nearly two-hour interview Castro hit on many topics regarding the Games this year and gave a few hints on the future of the Games. Besides meticulously breaking down each event of this year’s Games, here are some key takeaways from the interview.

  • The 2007 Games inclusion: Castro said the moment that the Games would be moved to Aromas he wanted to include the 2007 Games events and make it one of the central themes or “anchors” of the Games weekend. Those three events from the first-ever Games became the first of two “anchors” he would establish for the 2020 Games.
  • The Hopper: He talked about how he wanted to include the Hopper, in which numerous workouts would be put into the famous metal container, but the workouts would have been too random and could have been too much to ask of the athletes. He said he’s a fan of the hopper and don’t be surprised to see it pop up in the Games in the future.
  • The CrossFit Total: Castro discussed how he thought of using different versions of the CrossFit Total including using an axle bar for the lifts. What ultimately made him decide to go with the traditional version of the event was he didn’t want to repeat movements from the total in other events later on. 
  • Justin Medeiros’ handstand walk gameplan: Castro was not a fan of the Games rookie technique of handstand walking every five yards and breaking in the Handstand Sprint. He stated that had he known someone would “game” it like Medeiros did he would have made the sections bigger and changed the event.
  • The Ranch Loop twist: Given the uniqueness of the event being at the Ranch and not having fans there gave Castro the chance to program this event. When the twist of having to run the loop again, reactions were mixed from the athletes who tested it, to the Games athletes in competition. Castro said in retrospect he would’ve just told Mathew Fraser once and let him figure it out if he was serious or not.
  • The number of events for stage two: Castro stated that at many points throughout the planning process that he planned on having more than 12 total events over the course of the three days. He planned for five events each day, then he planned five events for the first two days and four on the final day before deciding he was being too aggressive on the programming and settled on five-four-three.
  • Atalanta: The final event was inspired by some of the criticism that Castro received for programming Mary at the 2019 Games. In true Castro form, he wanted to answer that criticism by not only reprogramming the event but adding a twist. He admitted that had the Games been held in Madison, WI that the Atalanta would not have been the finale however, it would have been one of the “anchor” events.
  • Programming for the test and not for show: Castro has been known for his theatrics but in this interview he discussed how important it was to program the test to find the fittest and not for entertainment, stating “often times I’m not trying to wow people on how it plays on paper because I know the athletes and the intensity will raise it up.” Ultimately the athletes’ performances in events will determine the success of it and not the event itself.
  • The cutting room floor: Many events were planned and different variations of the workouts we saw at the Games were tested. Castro said he took note of those and wanted to save them for future Games. He specifically mentioned events that featured the peg board which has appeared in some form at the Games every year except once since the 2015 Games.
  • Programming for the test and not the individual: He again answered the question on whether he programs to test the athletes, specifically Fraser, or to find the best athlete in the test. He said he has changed his thinking lately to “I’m testing for this ultimate CrossFitter that wins everything.” That he’s programming for an “ideal machine”, an athlete that is the perfect CrossFitter.
  • Canceling the season: Castro admitted that early on during the pandemic he was on board with cancelling the season. Patience ultimately won out and he said this season has provided a blueprint for future challenges if they would happen to occur.

The bottom line: Fans of Castro’s book Constructing the CrossFit Games will enjoy this interview that acts as a companion piece. Ingraham and Grundler do a great job of getting Castro to open up, giving fans of the Games an inside look into the process and thinking that goes into creating the Games. Listening to the interview, fans have much to look forward to for the future of the Games. When asked how he can improve the Games year to year, the Director of Sport said “just do what you need to do and do it the way you do it and it will be what it needs to be.” An answer we have come to expect from Castro.

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