2022 Legends Championship Kicks Off a Home For Masters Athletes
The 2022 Legends Championship, one of the few masters-only CrossFit events, will for the first time commence at CrossFit Mayhem in Cookeville, Tennessee, the home base for one of CrossFit’s legends, Rich Froning. The event kicks off this Thursday, Dec. 8 and runs until this Sunday, Dec. 11.
The competition is one of the biggest events for age group athletes, giving them a chance to compete in a way that’s professional and competitive and fun.
The competition is considered one of the best for masters athletes, aside from the CrossFit Games itself, says Jason Grubb, who won first place in his age division at the last three CrossFit Games; 40-44 in 2019, 40-49 in 2021 and 2022.
- “This is my third year doing it and for me it’s a repeat of the Games in a sense. It’s the same roster, the same guys for me. The ability to get on a competition floor a couple of times a year with this demographic of athletes, of this caliber, it’s really just an amazing experience to be able to do that.”
- “Overall competition and what is presented to us is very accurate for masters and I think it’s harder than the games.”
Aside from the Legends, the only other live multi-day age group stand alone events is the Masters Fitness Collective, which was held in October, drawing athletes such as Elijah Muhammad and Shawn Ramirez. The Masters Fitness Collective begins their masters division at 30, unlike Legends and the CrossFit Games which start at 35 and ends at 65+.
The CrossFit Games introduced the masters division in 2010, offering seven divisions for age group athletes. The 2022 CrossFit Games only opened the field up to 10 athletes, limiting the hopes of all but the elite athletes from a realistic shot at experiencing a live multi-day CrossFit event.
The age divisions have been top of mind for many in the CrossFit world as some of the greatest of the greats in the sport start to age up. Froning being one of them who recently announced his retirement from team competition, but left the door open for a possible run in the masters division of the Games.
- “I’ve exhausted that point in my career doing teams. I enjoyed it, loved every minute of it,” Froning, 35, previously said on The Sevan Podcast.
- “If I can get that back to doing good and compete at a level I want to I’ll definitely do the Open, do the age group online qualifiers and then Semifinals for Masters.
The Legends event was held in San Diego, California last year and attracted the likes of David Johnston and Grubb, who both got first place in their respective age divisions. Both men are Games athletes with some serious accolades. Johnston placed 2nd in the 40-44 age division at the 2021 CrossFit Games.
The event is the brainchild of competition directors Joe Linton and Bob Jennings, who started the competition back in 2017. And has since grown exponentially into what it is and will be this week.
Linton says in the masters community “we’ve always said: ‘You never retire, you just age up’ and it’s kind of cool.” He adds, the goal every year is to replicate the Games experience for the masters athletes.
- “We do this purely for the masters community. We like to pair up with people who work hard and have the same passion to provide the masters community a platform to show their stuff.”
- “I think why we’re the premiere event is because of that. We’re going to take it on and give them the best thing possible and so far we’ve hit the mark.”
This year, having a host, such as CrossFit Mayhem is a sure sign the Legends event has become one of the premier events for masters athletes. Mayhem is not only the home to Froning, but has been the training base for some of the best athletes in the sport, like Haley Adams and Guilherme Malheiros. In short, a nod from Mayhem means quite a lot.
Grubb says Legends is a “resume building” competition and has respectability as THE masters event of the year.
For masters athletes, like Stacey Marino, the event gives age group individuals a platform and spotlight they deserve. Marino owns CrossFit 201 in Oakland, New Jersey and she placed second at the Legends event last year.
- “Legends makes us feel like we’re the center of attention and we’re important and we get rewarded for the hard work we put in as well,” says Marino, who will compete in the 35-39 age division at Legends.
- “This is the best of the best with masters, if they could take it to a higher level, like an actual qualifier, a lot more athletes would participate”
While there is a masters division at the CrossFit Games, the majority of the coverage is on individual athletes, said Marino. Legends is a chance for masters to be the center of attention and the field of athletes backs that up.
Linton says the events have been programmed in partnership with Mayhem and expects to put on a serious show for all athletes.
“We care about the person who is dead last, just as much as the person who took first,” said Linton. “Everyone can be inspiring to someone else.”
Fans can watch the event on Mayhem’s website. The official leaderboard and roster preview is coming soon.