METCON Rush Keeps Competition Alive for Quarterfinals and Semifinals Athletes
The end of the Quarterfinals and Semifinals serve as a dividing point for athletes in CrossFit. Some move on to the next stage of the season while others have traditionally turned their attention to offseason training.
For some, this is no longer the case thanks to the rise of METCON Rush.
One big thing: Created by CrossFit 301 Elite’s Tim Kellinger, METCON Rush started as an in-house competition geared more toward Tough Mudder-style events. However, the situation changed during the third year of the event. Rain forced Kellinger to switch the event to his affiliate, which ultimately was a blessing in disguise.
- “The feedback from all the participants was they liked it being closer quarters and the atmosphere a little more energized,” Kellinger said.
- The decision was made for the fourth year to move METCON Rush into more of a traditional CrossFit competition, but this created the need for more space.
- Kellinger was able to work out a deal with Hagerstown Community College in Maryland. This facility has become the home of the competition as it has continued to grow over the years and attract more athletes.
Now in its eighth year, METCON Rush is a CrossFit-licensed event that takes place at Hagerstown Community College on August 26-27. It features support from the Maryland Army National Guard, TYR, Lululemon, and multiple other companies, as well as $13,000 in cash and more than $5,000 in prizes.
- “We’ve got people coming from all over this year for individuals,” Kellinger said. “It’s amped up really on the individual side as far as bringing people all over the States and definitely taken on its own little – which is what I intended for it to be – its own little life.”
- “It’s like post-Semifinals, ‘You didn’t make the CrossFit Games. What do you got next?’ And that’s what I wanted this Elite Individual division to be.”
METCON Rush has five main divisions for 2023 – RX Teams, Scaled Teams, Masters Teams (35-44), Masters Teams (45+), and Elite Individuals.
- There are 17 elite individual female athletes and 16 elite individual male athletes that have been announced so far. Some examples of the female division include Callista Lang (21st in North America East), Samantha Pugh (22nd in NA East), Rachel Fricker (56th in NA East), and Karis Demi (42nd in NA East).
- The men’s division includes such examples as Luke Burns (51st in NA East), Wes Peters (29th in NA East Teams), Mitch Griffith (52nd in NA East), Raymond Romanick (148th in NA East Quarterfinals), and Joe Pierro (15th in NA East Teams).
Kellinger: “We cap the event to make sure that there’s a lot of runway as far as what those athletes experience. We don’t want to have an overwhelming amount of athletes that come out so that we can provide adequate judging, adequate tests.”
- “We’ve allowed for a certain number to come in and that allows for us to give the best athletes the best experience. And then obviously for our staff not to feel overwhelmed by being working 24/7 the entire time. That way we can shift people in and out and have it be an enjoyable time for everyone.”
METCON Rush began as a grassroots event, but it has grown with more athletes submitting their information in hopes of securing a spot. For example, the winning team in 2022 was from Mexico.
This growth has led to Kellinger putting emphasis on legitimizing the competition. Becoming a CrossFit-licensed event was one step, but he also focused on the quality of the judges.
Several that took part in METCON Rush in 2022 were judges at either the CrossFit Games or Semifinals, and they joined several local-level judges that have completed the CrossFit Judges Course. METCON Rush also has two head judges – one that is a fixture at Semifinal and the Games and one that is a 10-year affiliate owner/ judge.
- “This is to kind of amp up the focus on the judging,” Kellinger said. “I’ve been focusing on that. It’s all part of the athlete experience. They don’t want to come in and have someone that can’t call proper range of motion and call proper reps, be okay with saying, ‘No rep.’”
- “So we kind of filter that out. We use Google Docs for applications. They have to provide their experience, their background. We filter through that and give the opportunity to be a judge at the event.”
Collaboration is key: Kellinger is someone that has experience with competitive programming. He did so for himself for several years, and he has been the head coach and programmer at CrossFit 301 Elite for 10 years.
Kellinger does the programming for METCON Rush, but he doesn’t simply come up with workouts and call it good. He and key collaborators test all of the events for the individuals and teams. He also gets feedback from people that aren’t directly involved.
- “Last year, I was able to send the programming for the individuals to Ben Smith of CrossFit Krypton. He gave me valuable feedback on the programming that led me to make some adjustments. Ben doesn’t have the proximity bias.”
- “This year, the woman who won our event last year – it was Ellia Miller. She is a Semifinals athlete. She’s out of Kansas. She can’t come this year, so I’m kind of collaborating with her on the women’s side.”
- “I’m going to have her test some of the workouts for me, give me an idea on her level. ‘Is this good programming for our individual athletes?’”
- “From the team perspective, I am testing the workouts myself with my brother [Keith], who is the head judge. So we kind of run through on what stimulus we are looking for and make adjustments.”
Kellinger and METCON Rush have not announced any of the events for this year’s competition just yet. This will begin on July 25th as they celebrate being only one month away from the opening ceremonies.
The athlete experience has become a top priority for Kellinger and METCON Rush. He wants everyone that takes part to feel like it was worth their time, money, and effort. He wants them to have the best judges, workouts, and prizes so that they have the desire to keep coming back.
- “[The goal is] they always come in and feel like a million bucks,” Kellinger said. “And I think anybody that has participated from year to year, they see that every year we’re making the effort to make it better and better.
- “We add more money to the purse, add more prizes, add more space and amenities and equipment and all that stuff. That’s the goal. The goal is not to sit here and make 100 percent profit. The goal is to make it 100 percent the best event that anybody has ever gone to.”
The bottom line: METCON Rush provides a late-summer competition for athletes that did not achieve their goal of reaching the NOBULL CrossFit Games, and it gives them another opportunity to win some money and prizes while testing themselves against their peers.
Kellinger and everyone involved have embraced the fun that METCON Rush can provide for the community. However, they have not ignored the fact that continuing to grow the competition requires the continued pursuit of perfection.
- “The goal is to run the event at the most professional level that is possible,” Kellinger said. “That’s how I approach it.”
“This is a lot of fun, it’s for the community, but at our end, we have the responsibility of running it as professionally as possible. And like I said, that will hopefully bring back all the athletes and spectators.”