CrossFit Games

Ten Athletes to Watch in the 5k Run

August 5, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Kay Wiese
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This year, CrossFit revealed that three of the events at the CrossFit Games would be three separate tests spanning the domains of CrossFit, gymnastics, monostructural [conditioning], and weightlifting. For the monostructural domain, CrossFit elected to test athletes with one of the most challenging race distances, the 5k run.

One big thing: While the event will be a cross-country 5k, leaving more room for athletes to utilize their athleticism to navigate terrain rather than displaying pure running skills, aerobic capacity coach Chris Hinshaw predicted in an interview earlier this week with Morning Chalk Up that the event still has the capacity to devastated athletes.

Remind me: In the past, only a few events have featured pure running efforts at the highest levels of competition.

  • In 2016, athletes ran a 7k trail run at the Ranch in Aromas Texas at the CrossFit Games.
  • In 2017, athletes at the Dubai Fitness competition ran a 5k through the desert for time. Later in the season, athletes would take on the Run-Swim-Run event at the Games, which held a similar running distance to a 5k run.
  • In 2018, Wodapalooza athletes ran a 7k for time. Though there were no similar events of pure running featured at the Games, they did participate in a mid-distance swim, paddle, run event.
  • In 2019, athletes took on a 7k ruck run, which while it featured 7 kilometers of running, also had the added factor of the ruck pack the athletes had to carry.
  • In 2020, the athletes once again participated in a trail run on the ranch. Though the athlete pool was very limited due to covid regulations.
  • In 2021, athletes ran a sprint event and there were no pure mid-distance running events at the Games.
  • Finally, the most recent year, 2022 featured no pure monostructural events.

Why it matters: These single-focus events at the Games will be one of the more exciting elements of the 2023 CrossFit Games. One unique part of these events is the fact that athletes truly have nowhere to hide. Unlike a traditional CrossFit workout where athletes can make up for a weakness in another movement or component of the workout, these tests leave nowhere to hide weaknesses. With that being said, here are your athletes to watch in this year’s 5k run test.

Individual Men Fighting For The Top Spot:

  • Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson: With a self reported 5k time on his CrossFit Games of 19:20, the Icelandic athlete is perhaps best known for his incredible engine.
  • In 2017, he took fourth in the 5k desert run in Dubai. He would then go on to win the run up Mt. Esja in the Reykjavik Championships in 2019.
  • Gudmundsson has also finished top ten in the Run-Swim-Run event of 2017 and the Madison Triplus of 2018 (swim, paddle, run). 
  • Brent Fikowski: The 6’2” Canadian is well known for his performance in endurance based events. 
  • In 2016, he took 3rd on the Ranch Trail Run (approximately a 7k run), only bested by Mat Fraser and Josh Bridges.
  • In 2017 and 2018, he took first in the running and swimming events.
  • He also took first during the North America West Semifinals on workout 1, which consisted of a longer time domain and contained running elements, beating second-place finisher Patrick Vellner by close to two minutes.

Other Athletes To Keep An Eye On: 

  • Justin Medeiros: Took second on the Ranch Trail Loop in 2020 just behind Matt Fraser.
  • Uldis Upenieks: Third in the Ruck Run in 2019.
  • Jayson Hopper: Took first in the ruck event at the 2022 Rogue Invitational and won Workout One at North America East Semifinals.

Individual Women:

  • Emily Rolfe: This year at North America West Semifinals, Rolfe took second in the first event. A similar time domain workout to the 5k run that also involved running.
  • Prior to that, Rolfe had a history of high performance in longer time domain events requiring athletes to rely more on their aerobic capacity.
  • In 2019, she took first in the Ruck event. While not a pure running based event, it still required a great deal of aerobic capacity.
  • In 2021, she took first on Event 10, which consisted of 2 1.5-mile runs intermixed with toes-to-bar. While not a pure 5k, the work capacity requirements still remain similar in terms of aerobic capacity.
  • In 2019, she also took fourth on Event 2 at the Dubai CrossFit championship, which involved 2,400 meters of running and 3km of biking on the bike erg.
  • She also finished fourth in Event 1 of 2021, which was a 1-mile swim and 3-mile kayak. While not a run, it still required athletes to perform in a medium-long time domain.
  • Katrin Davidsdottir: The Icelandic multi-year individual Games athlete is well known for her ability to push through longer workouts using her “sled dog mentality” and we’re hoping this 5k is no different.
  • In 2020, she won the Ranch Trail loop, a follow-up to her fourth place finish on the Ranch Trail Run in 2016.
  • Davidsdottir has also finished well in longer aerobic-based events at the Games, such as the crit-race where she came in third overall in 2018, as well as the Ruck event in 2019, where she came in fifth.
  • Outside of the Games, Davidsdottir also took fourth in the 7k run at Wodapalooza in 2017.
  • More recently, her best finish at North America West Semifinals came from an event involving eight snatches and an 800m run on the assault air runner. While not nearly close to the same time domain as a 5k run, it is still a great example of her running capacity.

Other Individual Women To Keep An Eye On:

  • Danielle Brandon: First overall in North America East event one, which involved running and a longer time domain.
  • Amanda Barnhardt: Third in event one at the North America East Semifinals this year and fifth in the Swim/Run event in 2018.

Sydney Wells: Former collegiate track sprinter. While 5k may not have been her distance, she still has a solid running background.

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