Running the Desert and Criss Cross Double-Unders on Day 1 in Egypt

November 10, 2022 by
Photo courtesy of ELFIT CrossFit Championship (@elfit_egypt)
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7:30 AM came early for elite athletes who gathered at the Sports City New Capital outside of Cairo, Egypt. The 80 or so male and female athletes loaded on two separate busses to take the hour-long drive to Wadi Degla Protectorate, a desert nature preserve just outside of Cairo. 

Event 1: “Run Like an Egyptian”

Athletes would face a 5km out-and-back trail run filled with hills and rocky terrain. 

As far as desert runs go, the temperature was a mild 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius), calm winds and bright sun. 

The athletes corralled and were sent out in waves of three with chip timers to space out the crowd on the narrow desert trail. 


France’s Antoine Marchin cruised to an easy first-place finish, 40 seconds faster than Abdelrahman Alaa, followed closely by Amjad Keddah. Shortly after, a wave of 11 athletes rolled in separated by just one minute. 

What happened to Brent: Brent Fikowski, who is traditionally towards the front of the pack during running events, was visibly struggling during the first half of the run. The seven-time Games athlete has been battling an upset stomach and fever since his arrival. 

At the turnaround point, Fikowski threw up five times. Your author was also running the race and was just a few feet away when it happened. Fikowski was able to recover several places, passing yours truly, and finished 29th with a time of 26:44.


For the women, the story was much the same with two breakout runners — Shahad Budebs and Nada Gamal — clearly ahead of the pack. They were followed by another wave of six athletes who all finished within a minute of each other. 

FUN FACT: Budebs would have placed 34th among 49 men. Twenty women in total beat men on the run of the same distance. 

Event 1 results:

  1. Antoine Marchin – 22:54 | Shahad Budebs – 27:23
  2. Abdelrahman Alaa – 23:34 | Nada Gamal – 27:52
  3. Amjad Keddah – 23:54 | Gilmari Reinere – 28:23
  4. Ruan Potgieter – 24:06 | Aya Fouad – 28:29
  5. Nicholas Hitti – 24:14 | Antonia Falt-Kottulinsky – 28:42

Event 2: “Beauty and the Beast”


ELFIT took a play out of Adrian Bozman’s 2022 CrossFit Games playbook, programming crisscross double-unders and max reps of shoulder to overhead from the blocks. 

Event 2

  • Part A — 90 seconds on, 60 seconds off:
    8/6 Ring muscle-ups + max unbroken single-unders in remaining time
    60 seconds rest
    10/7 Ring muscle-ups + max unbroken double-unders in remaining time
    60 seconds rest
    12/8 Ring muscle-ups + max crossover double-unders in remaining time
    60 seconds rest
  • Part B — 2:30 minute window
    Max reps of shoulder to overhead from blocks (120kg/80kg)

Speaking to Fikowski a few hours after event 1 and the worst seemed to have been left out on the trail run. His performance certainly showed a turn for the better as he made easy work with the muscle-ups, going unbroken on all rounds and was the only athlete to string together large sets of crossover double-unders. His 313 combined reps put him easily in 1st. 

Part B was much the same as Fikowski hit anywhere from two to four jerks at 265 pounds at a time. 

Pontus Forsberg also had an impressive overall day 1 with a 13th and 4th place finish in Parts A and B of Event 2. The high-volume gymnastics paired with strength proved challenging for most, but Forsberg was able to find a balance and end the day in 3rd overall. 

Event 2, Part A results:

  1. Brent Fikowski – 313
  2. Jonathan Ferreira – 286
  3. Waleed Goher – 260
  4. Michael Magdi – 248
  5. Antoine Marchin – 243

Event 2, Part B results:

  1. Brent Fikowski – 19
  2. Jeremiah Benye – 15
  3. Jose Lozano – 14
  4. Pontus Forsberg – 13
  5. Assem Effat – 11


Shahad Budebs started the day in first and ended it in first (tied overall in points). She finished Parts A and B in 3rd and 5th respectively. Her 11 jerks at 185 pounds is probably a more impressive finish that the gymnastics portion as the barbell was by no means light and six athletes failed to get one rep and another three only lifted it once. 

Some background: The four-time fittest Emirati woman has been racking up a lot of experience over the last couple of seasons and it’s beginning to show her growth. Her recent 27th place finish in the Dubai Fitness Championship online qualifier put her just a tad too far out of reach for an invite to the December competition but it was against a very strong field. During the 2022 Semifinal season, she finished 6th overall at the Far East Throwdown where she hopes to improve to qualify as an individual to the Games. 

Another person to keep your eye on is Emma Morgan, owner of CrossFit Ballito and African semifinal athlete, who’s currently in 4th overall. Her 280 reps on Part A are notable not just because it was the most, but she didn’t do the final set of muscle-ups unbroken despite others doing all eight in one sec. Her quick singles in Part B landed her 10 reps and 7th in that event. Combined with a 10th place finish on the 5k run, for someone who doesn’t like running, was an all around good day for the South African. 

Event 2, Part A results:

  1. Emma Morgan – 280
  2. Antonia Falt-Kottulinsky – 258
  3. Shahad Budebs – 230
  4. Gilmari Reyneke – 225
  5. Dema Zebdieh – 201

Event 2, Part B results:

  1. Megan Faul – 19
  2. Antonia Falt-Kottulinsky – 17
  3. Gilmari Reyneke – 16
  4. Sofie Aniliadis – 12
  5. Shahad Budebs – 11

On tap for tomorrow

Athletes have three total events on Friday. You can see the details here.

Withdrawn: Several notable athletes withdrew before the start of competition, including Aleksander Illin, Evie Hollis, and Julie Kato. 

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