“Deep in the Heart of Texas”, Top Athletes Battle for Huge Prize Purse at Rogue Invitational

October 28, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography
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A “who’s who” of the top athletes in CrossFit from around the globe will converge onto Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas this weekend (October 29-31) for the third annual Rogue Invitational. Just three months after the conclusion of the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games the same athletes who battled for the title of the “Fittest” will showcase their fitness and battle each other for their share of a prize purse just shy of $1.5 million.

What’s on the line: The prize purse is the largest for a non-Games competition and includes a payout of over $300,000 for both the men’s and women’s individual champion. What’s unique about this prize purse is the innovative way that Rogue has been able to increase the purse through ticket sales and Bitcoin investments. 

Who to watch: Forty individual athletes (20 men, 20 women) hailing from 15 different countries include Games champions both past and present, veterans and teenage rookies. Rogue sent invites to the top-20 athletes from this past year’s Games with 31 accepting their invites (17 women, 14 men). The remaining nine spots were back-filled by Rogue by athletes outside the top-20 and by invite.

Podium Contenders (Women): This field of women includes four Games champions including the winner of the last seven Games titles. Nine of the women will be making their first appearance at the Rogue Invitational.

  • Tia-Clair Toomey: The reigning and defending champion is also the two-time defending Rogue Invitational champion, having won both titles by an average margin of 80.5 points. Toomey has won 11-straight live competitions including (her streak is 14 if you count online competitions including last year’s Rogue Invitational). The last time she didn’t win in live competition was when she placed second at the 2017 Pacific Regional. She has won a record eight of 15 Rogue Invitational events.
  • Laura Horvath: A two-time runner-up at the Games including this past season, she is looking for redemption at the Rogue Invitational where she struggled famously in deficit handstand push-ups in 2019 resulting in a DNF in that event and a 19th place overall. She bounced back at last year’s online competition placing fifth. She has seven career top-five finishes at Rogue including three second places.
  • Annie Thorisdottir: Can “Iceland Annie” recapture the magic from the 2021 Games where she placed third a year after giving birth? The two-time “Fittest Woman on Earth” placed third at the 2019 Rogue Invitational highlighted by her win in the “Mule” an event that will be repeated again this year.
  • Kristin Holte: Holte announced her retirement from Games competition soon after placing fourth in Madison this year. However, she said she’s not done competing altogether and announced that she would make an appearance at the Rogue Invitational. She placed fifth in 2019 and ninth ast year. The Norwegian has only two event finishes outside the top-10 in her Rogue career.
  • Haley Adams: Still just 20-years old, Adams has been one of the few Americans that can go head-to-head with Toomey in events. The “Fittest American” will make her live debut at the Rogue Invitational after competing online last year. She placed eighth last year highlighted by an event win. She has back-to-back top-five finishes at the Games after placing sixth in her debut season in 2019.
  • Gabriela Migala: Migala is just 22-years old and is coming off an impressive sixth place finish at the Games. The native of Poland will be making her Rogue Invitational debut.
  • Kari Pearce: Arguably the greatest women’s American athlete, Pearce announced that the Rogue Invitational would be her final competition as she retires from the sport to pursue other opportunities. After having her opportunity to repeat on the Games podium taken away from her due to COVID-19, she is approaching the Rogue Invitational as that missed opportunity. She placed sixth at the 2019 Rogue Invitational before taking last year’s competition off due to an injury.
  • Staff Dark Horses: Mallory O’Brien, Emma Cary, Amanda Barnhart, Danielle Brandon.

Podium Contenders (Men): The men’s competition looks to be a close race for the podium and ultimately the huge payday. The field has two Games champions in it, the bookends to Mathew Fraser’s five-year run as the “Fittest Man on Earth”. The field includes 11 newcomers to the competition.

  • Justin Medeiros: The reigning “Fittest Man on Earth” is among the newcomers to the event. The 22-year old signed with Rogue as a sponsored athlete after his third place finish at the 2020 CrossFit Games.
  • Patrick Vellner: Vellner looks to defend his 2020 Rogue Invitational title after placing second behind Medeiros at the Games this season. The Canadian recorded a 85-point victory at the 2020 Rogue Invitational thanks to two event wins. He has three event wins including winning the “Mule” during the 2019 Rogue Invitational when he placed second overall.
  • Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson: Gudmundsson placed second last year to Vellner at the Rogue Invitational, winning one event. He just missed out on his third career podium finish at the Games this year, placing fourth.
  • Cole Sager: In 2019 Sager placed third at the Rogue Invitational thanks to four top-three finishes including a win in the opening event, the GoRuck. Last year he placed 11th during the online format and should get a boost with the event returning to a live and outdoor event.
  • Chandler Smith: Smith solidified himself a Games contender after turning heads at the 2019 Rogue Invitational, placing fifth and earning his first trip to the Games. Last year he improved to fourth place thanks to two event wins. 
  • Staff Dark Horses: Ben Smith, Jayson Hopper, Alex Vigneault, Saxon Panchik

What to watch for: Rogue has released six of the seven events that were programmed by CrossFit greats Chris Spealler and Rich Froning. Those two athletes will also see some time on the competition floor as they are scheduled to participate in the Legends division during the weekend.

  • This year’s Legend division will consist of three workouts and will be done in teams of two including an event where the men and women Legends athletes will be paired together.
  • The Rogue Invitational will also host a Strongman and the Rogue Record Breakers competition over the weekend. The full schedule of events are available on the Rogue website as well as on our own Rogue Invitational page.
  • Rogue will be streaming the whole weekend live on their YouTube channel

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