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Kara Saunders Talks “Mayhem Thunder”

Morning Chalk Up

February 2   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Kara Saunders and her Aussie “Old Dogs” get ready for the 2024 season
  • How are some affiliate owners using the Open to build value for themselves and their members?
  • Tracking Open movements through the years
  • And, Ella Wilkinson’s Workout of the Week
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“We’re definitely the work hard, play hard at the same time type of team. I think we all work best like this.” - Kara Saunders on her team Mayhem Thunder, announced earlier this week

  Kara Saunders Goes Team this Season with Other Aussie “Old Dogs”  

Kara Saunders Goes Team this Season with Other Aussie “Old Dogs”

Earlier this week, 10-time CrossFit Games athlete Kara Saunders announced she will be competing on a team—Mayhem Thunder—this season with three other CrossFit Games veterans from Australia, James Newbury, Khan Porter and Emily de Rooy.

With 20 Individual Games appearances combined—five for Porter, four for Newbury, and one for 2023 rookie de Rooy—Mayhem Thunder has to be one of the early favorites for the team title this season.

Worth noting: Saunders isn’t even five months postpartum after giving birth to her second child in September and says she has been taking it very slowly getting back into it “out of respect and love for myself.”

  • “I can’t do some movements yet just because I need to build up a bit more strength and I’m fighting the battle of being tight in the shoulders from breastfeeding and carrying a heavy little dude around all day,” Saunders said.
  • “I will be smart in the Open and Quarters and then just gradually add this stuff back in time for the Semis. I’m generally not as strong but I’m not trying to be right now either. And I recover slower because I exclusively breastfeed but I’ve done this all before so I will do my best and the rest will be what it is,” she added.

Ultimately, though, Saunders feels like she’s “my best version of myself right now and just super content.”

The Making of the Super Team

After having her second child, Saunders knew individual competition wouldn’t be in the cards this season.

  • “I didn’t know what I was going to do this season, but I knew I didn’t want to take it super seriously and wanted to focus on my family…I have a certain way that I want to parent and individual competition doesn’t support that at the moment,” she said.

And although she said she “would never go team,” as she is a much more “solo-natured person,” suddenly it seemed like a good option.

At the same time, Newbury, who hasn’t competed at the Games since 2019, and Porter had been talking about creating a team for several months, and then Kara’s husband Matt Saunders “randomly chatted to James and mentioned maybe I would be interested,” she said. From there, “it kind of just came together.”

As for training, both Saunders and Newbury live on the Gold Coast, so it’s easy for them to train together regularly, but the rest of the team plans to get together for Saturday sessions “here or there,” and for the Open and Quarterfinals.

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Ellie Turner and CrossFit’s Regional Exemptions: Recently, Australian athlete Ellie Turner has expressed her displeasure at CrossFit’s denial of her application for a Semifinal regional exemption, allowing her to compete in North America West instead of Oceania. In response, CrossFit released a statement to media outlets:
  • “If an athlete resides in a region outside of their country of citizenship and they believe they may advance to the in-person Semifinals stage, they can petition CrossFit for an exemption to be placed in a different competition region.”
  • “On Jan. 3, 2024, Ellie Turner submitted her request for a regional exemption, which was denied due to being unable to establish proof of residency beginning on or before Feb. 1, 2021.”
  • “The timeline Ellie provided to the CrossFit Games states that she arrived in North America in June 2021, prior to competing at the 2021 CrossFit Games. She then returned to Australia before arriving in Canada in December 2021. Ellie has sustained residency in North America since December 2021, but does not meet the required date of residency on or before Feb. 1, 2021.”
  • Section 1.09 of the CrossFit Games rulebook reads: “Minimum requirements for an exemption include, but are not limited to: Proof of sustained residency in a single country outside of the athlete’s country of citizenship beginning on or before Feb. 1, 2021 (three years).”
Thirty athletes total submitted applications for a regional exemption. As of now, 19 have been reviewed, and Turner is among the five that have been denied. CrossFit is currently reviewing the remaining 11.

New Reyllen Brand Ambassador: The popular grip maker, Reyllen USA, announced yesterday that four-time CrossFit Games Masters Champ, Jason Grubb, was the newest member of Team Reyllen.

  • From the post: “We are so excited to partner with Jason. Most importantly because he is a great ambassador of the sport and community. He is also a perfect fit to represent every athlete striving to change their lives and become better! We love Jason’s story and what his journey represents FOR EVERY ATHLETE. From humble beginnings can come great things!”

Working with Larger Bodies Seminar and PRVN Fitness: Athena Perez and Scaled Nation will be joining PRVN Fitness at their new headquarters in Nashville, TN to present the “Working with Larger Bodies” seminar. The event will take place on April 21, 2024, beginning at 9 AM. Register now!

  • And if you haven’t been following Athena’s “Hiller Challenge” on social media, read her multipart journal starting here. New entry out next week!

🏋️ New Training Cycles for Catalyst Athletics: Head Coach, Greg Everett’s Catalyst Athletics announced that new training cycles start next week for his teams, so its the best time to join.

ICYMI: Week 2 of The Open Report with Mike Halpin from Known and Knowable provided an update on current 2024 Open registration numbers, as well as bit of a history lesson on Open (and Quarterfinal) clues and programming hints.

  How Some Affiliate Owners are Maximizing the CrossFit Open’s Value for Themselves and their Communities  


How Some Affiliate Owners are Maximizing the CrossFit Open’s Value for Themselves and their Communities

Every year, tens of thousands of CrossFit athletes around the world catch the fever of the Open, a fever that challenges them, motivates them, lifts them to a new level, and energizes everyone in its wake.

For the gym owner, though, the Open can be a time-consuming, energy-draining experience with no financial reward. And when they do charge a stipend, it’s usually just enough to cover the cost of the floor tape.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

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  Open Movements Over the Years: Historical Open Trends Broken Down  

Open Movements Over the Years: Historical Open Trends Broken Down

Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the Open is predicting the workouts and guessing which movements will show up.

Since its inception in 2011, the Open has featured fewer than 100 distinctive movements and since the inaugural year has only added a handful of additional movements each year. Despite this, the challenge remains each year to predict what’s coming during the three weeks of the CrossFit Open.

Today we’ll take a look back at previous Opens to see which movements might be in the cards for 2024 and where you should focus as you put the final touches on your Open prep work.

Tracking movement: The biggest change since 2011 has been the number of weeks. In its infancy, the Open consisted of six weeks of competition. In the second year, the number dropped to five weeks and by 2021, the Open had been parred down to just three weeks.

  • With this, the number of movements per week has steadily been on the upward trend.
  • While the total number of movements has dropped, we’ve seen the number of movements normalized for the total number of weeks in the Open slowly creep up to an all-time high in 2023, where we saw 4 unique movements for each week of the Open.
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  Ella Wilkinson’s Workout of the Week  

Ella Wilkinson’s Workout of the Week

Today’s workout is programmed by up-and-coming UK athlete, Ella Wilkinson, who trains out of High Performance CrossFit with JST Compete. The 23-year-old was a high-level gymnast as a child but an ankle injury changed her fitness trajectory and her mom introduced her to CrossFit. In 2022, Wilkinson qualified for Semifinals and placed 18th overall at Strength in Depth, one of the European Semifinals that year.

Ella Wilkinson

8-Minute EMOM
12 Wall Balls (30/20 pounds, 13/9kg)


8-Minute EMOM
8 Bar Muscle-Ups


8-Minute EMOM
12 GHD Sit-Ups

Scaling tips: If you are unable to perform a bar muscle up, you can adjust this to a chest-to-bar or regular pull-up. You can also scale the GHD sit-ups to med ball sit-ups or AbMat sit-ups. Don’t reduce the number of rounds as this workout is meant to develop your capacity in each movement; instead, adjust the movement  to your experience level.

Advice from Ella: “Maintain a consistent pace throughout each minute of each exercise: your pace and technique should look as similar as possible from minute 1 to minute 8. Go straight from each EMOM to the other, you should get 30-40 seconds of rest each minute.”  

To inquire about submitting an upcoming workout of the week, shoot us a note.



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Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise? Send us a tip.

  • 📝Congratulations to Make WODs Great Again’s John Wooley, who received his CF-L1.
  • ⭐️Congratulations to Morning Chalk Up’s Sarah Appleby, on the 80 kilo/176 pound power clean.
  • 💪Congratulations to Brittany of Alpha Prime CrossFit in Slovakia on the Viper log press.
  • ✍️Congratulations to Kristin of CrossFit Takeover in Virginia Beach, VA, on receiving her CF-L4.
  • 🥳Congratulations to Morning Chalk Up’s Austin Heaton on the 155 kilo/341 pound squat clean PR.
2/10: St. Sebastian Smackdown (Southern Pines, NC)
2/10: Pancakes for Roger Dragon Slaying Competition KC (Kansas City, Missouri)
2/10 - 2/11: LOVEFEST PH (Muntinlupa City, Philippines)
2/17: Cupid’s Throwdown (Las Vegas, Nevada)
2/17 - 2/18: Busto Throwdown (Busto Arsizio, Italy)
3/2: The LKW Games (Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina)
3/9: The Valkyrie Fitness Competition (Tampa, FL)
3/16: Upper Hunter Strongest Novice (Muswellbrook, Australia)
3/16: Oceanside CrossFit 1st Annual Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/16: Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/23: CFL Teen Take Over (Lorton, VA)
3/23 - 3/24: Beach Brawl (Spring) (Pensacola Beach, FL)
3/23: Masters Distinguished Games (Fort Wright, KY)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Minnesota (Austin, Minnesota)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Kentucky (Richmond, Kentucky)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Ohio (Lancaster, Ohio)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, Alabama)
4/6: Best Babes 608 (Janesville, Wisconsin)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beufort, South Carolina)
4/6: Best Babes Houston (Houston, Texas)
4/6: Best Babes Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
4/6: Best Babes Wyoming (Cheyene, Wyoming)
4/6: War Off I-4 (Deland, FL)
4/6 - 4/7: No Pain No Game (Legnano, Italy)
4/6 - 4/7: Shack Team Edition (Rome, Italy)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beaufort, SC)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, AL)
4/6 - 4/7: Landifornian Battle (Seignosse, France)
4/6: Two Peas in a Pod: Mixed Gender Partner Comp (Burlington, MA)

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