Masters Eclipse Individuals for the First Time in Open Registration History

March 22, 2021 by
Credit: CrossFit: https://www.instagram.com/crossfit/
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For the first time since the inception of the CrossFit Games Open in 2011, more athletes are registered in the Masters division than in the Individual division.

  • 128,383 athletes 35 and over signed up to compete this year, compared to 127,693 athletes in the individual division. Overall, that means that masters comprise 48.7% of total registration while individuals comprise 48.4% (the remainder includes teens and adaptive divisions). 

One big thing: That there are more athletes competing in the Open in the 35 and over categories than the 18-34 division suggests that aging adults are increasingly embracing CrossFit as a way to keep themselves healthy and fit, not just in their 20s and early 30s, but for life. This is a trend that has grown steadily, especially since the 2018 Open. 

How we got here: Masters athletes were first included in the CrossFit Games in 2010 when it was moved from the Aromas, CA to the Home Depot Center (now the StubHub) in Los Angeles. That year, there was only one masters division, 50-plus.

  • In 2011, the introduction of the Open led CrossFit LLC to increase masters divisions from one to four — 40-44, 50-54, 55-59 and 60-plus.
  • In 2017, CrossFit expanded it even further to include 35-39 year-olds as the youngest division, and this season, the 60-plus division became 60-64 year-olds in order to make room for the new 65-plus division.

Masters participation details: The percentage of masters athletes in relation to the field has steadily risen since the Open began, and especially since 2018.

  •  In 2018 — when Open participation peaked with 416,371 registered competitors — masters athletes accounted for 43 percent of overall competitors (180,278 masters competitors). 
  • This number increased to 45 percent in 2019 (164,714 masters competitors), and 47 percent in 2020 (114,938 masters competitors), until it finally eclipsed individual registration this year.

Notable: Even though overall 2021 Open registration is down significantly from the high watermark of 2018 — 61.5 percent of what it was at its peak three years ago — there are still more athletes over the age of 60 registered this year than in 2018.

  • 5,405 athletes over the age of 60 registered for the Open this year, compared to 4,974 in 2018. 
  • The introduction of the 65-plus division this year — which partly came about because of increased demand from long-time competitors in their 60s who wanted to continue to compete and be competitive in their late 60s — speaks to this longevity. It also means we can likely expect a 70-plus division to be rolled out in the next few years.

The big picture: Masters athletes are unlikely to ever be the main event at the CrossFit Games, but their presence in the Open — and the ever-increasing participation among those over the age of 60 — is evidence that CrossFit is not just a young person’s sport. It’s for life. 

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