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Rory McKernan is Going Full Time

Morning Chalk Up

January 17

Element 26

Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. Almost a quarter of the way through the second Sanctionals season, we are beginning to see some trends in how event organizers are building their athlete rosters. Today:

  • Sanctional wildcard analysis.
  • Rory McKernan joins Niki Brazier to share some big career news.
  • A fundraiser roundup across the affiliate community.
  • Follow us on YouTube as we gear up for more Sanctionals coverage.

End the week with a big PR? Send us a note at [email protected].



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“Regardless of what the problem is, the answer is to squat.” — Greg Glassman

Second Sanctionals Season Expands Wildcard Uses

  Second Sanctionals Season Expands Wildcard Uses  

What started as a ready-made way to allow top CrossFit Games athletes a chance to bypass regular online qualifiers has expanded in year two of the new Sanctionals format. 

  • Last season, nine of 15 Sanctionals (60%) used the wildcard system to invite athletes directly to their event and bypass a qualifier. 
  • This season, that number increased to at least 12 of 27, though it appears the number will be closer to 16 or 17 as organizers of later season events are still finalizing details. 

The details: There are two big factors at play: 1) More than two-thirds of all Sanctionals are using unified qualifiers broadening the ability for athletes to qualify for multiple events at once, and 2). Sanctionals have expanded “earned exemption” criteria to include a fair amount of previous Games athletes. 

  • Thirteen events chose to use the CrossFit Open as their online qualifier this season, compared to only one last season (Down Under CrossFit Championship). 
  • The International Online Qualifier, implemented in two phases, qualified athletes for seven total Sanctionals
  • The CrossFit Italian Showdown eliminated their qualifier altogether.

Earned exemptions: Big name athletes are largely considered to be a major draw to fill seats, a sentiment that’s been echoed privately during multiple conversations with Sanctionals organizers. Instead of using wildcards, however, many are using “earned exemptions” for athletes placing in top spots in the Open and 2019 Games. By and large, this exemption is broad enough to invite the biggest names in the sport. 

  • There are at least eleven Sanctionals utilizing earned exemptions through the Open and Games. 
  • Multiple Santionals allow athletes to apply for an exemption much later in the season after the Open dust has settled. 

One big thing: Athletes who will qualify through the Open don’t need a Sanctional to get to the Games. In a ten-month-long season, it’s damn near impossible to get a top 10 Games athlete to commit to an event in May or June when it’s October. Wildcards and earned exemptions allow athletes like that to essentially defer the decision and apply later.

Why are wildcards so common: Big name athletes are largely considered to be a major draw to fill seats, a sentiment that’s been echoed privately during multiple conversations with Sanctionals organizers. 

  • Filthy 150 initially announced six wildcard invites, however ended up handing out more. Organizers said it was “to accommodate athletes that will enhance the competitiveness of the weekend.”
  • Strength in Depth and their star-studded lineup next weekend had to add more than a thousand additional seats to accommodate a sold out crowd in NOCCO arena. 

Other uses for the wildcard: Down Under CrossFit Championship is using their wildcard as an opportunity for the community to nominate an athlete who was unable to do the Open. 

  • Event Director Mick Shaw: “We know of a bunch of male and female athletes for a variety of reasons were not able to complete the CrossFit Open. To assist these athletes  [to] possibly gain a position at the DUCC we thought it would be great if the CrossFit Community voted for the athlete or athletes they felt were most deserving.”
  • Two examples are James Newbury and Erin Vandendriessche, who both suffered injuries that ended their Open bids. 

The bottom line: We’re only in the second season under this new format and there’s still no clear consensus on how wildcards should be used, if at all. With more Sanctionals using wildcards than not, this system of building the roster doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. 


Rory McKernan Joins NOBULL as Media Director

  Rory McKernan Joins NOBULL as Media Director  

If last weekend’s CrossFit Mayhem Classic had the look, sound and feel of a CrossFit Games broadcast, you can thank one man — Rory McKernan — for bringing together much of the same all-star cast from past Games events. McKernan, who left CrossFit HQ last February, revealed in an interview with Niki Brazier he’s transitioning full time as NOBULL’s new media director.

  • McKernan on being involved with the Mayhem Classic: “This has been a blessing to help friends who are putting on a competition.”
  • On his role with NOBULL: “We formed a fantastic relationship last year and I am coming on full time with them. As soon as (Mayhem Classic) is over it’s full time NOBULL in their media efforts.”
  • On balancing all his travel and responsibilities: “I don’t want to be gone and on the road all the time but it’s nice to have a remote position and choose my shots and decide what I want to do freelance. I don’t have to do anything, I can be more selective.”
  • Watch the full interview.

One big thing: McKernan has been a leading face of CrossFit’s media landscape for more than a decade now. His wide array of connections and notoriety adds even more star firepower to NOBULL’s talented roster which can only strengthen the brand’s growth in the sport.


The Best Weightlifting Belts for Functional Fitness Athletes.

Element 26
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Support the Morning Chalk Up, Buy a Tee

  Support the Morning Chalk Up, Buy a Tee  

Start shopping…


Sanctional News and Notes

  • Sean Sweeney, Sasha Nieves, MaryKay Dreisilker and Danielle Brandon have accepted their invitations to the 2020 CrossFit Games.
  • Saxon Panchik and Cole Sager are confirmed to compete at Wodapalooza in Miami, FL.
  • Tickets for the West Coast Classic are now on sale. Single day VIP and general admission, as well as three-day ticket packages are available.
  • The Mid Atlantic CrossFit Challenge has opened up registration for athletes who placed in the top 100 in the 2020 CrossFit Open.
  • Last year’s winner of the Mid Atlantic CrossFit Challenge, John Paul-Hethcock will return to defend his title. His partner Tammy Wildgoose will also compete at the Sanctional for the second-straight year.




One Of The Last Spots

There are only three spots left to join the WAG Coach Certification program, a digital mentorship that will give you the confidence and tools to help people get amazing results. Learn the science of nutrition and art of coaching with support from one of WAG’s top coaches.

  Morning Chalk Up  


Brent Fikowski’s First CrossFit Competition

Way back in 2012, an unknown Brent Fikowski traveled down to CrossFit Crossaxed in Australia for his first-ever competition.

Our Favorite CrossFitting Fundraisers


Our Favorite CrossFitting Fundraisers

Jessica Danger and Brittany Marsh share six non-profit organizations that they love in this episode of A Fresh Cup of Fitness, brought to you by O2 Recovery. One of the best things about CrossFit is the community, and there are so many groups out there making a difference.

Listen on Spotify    Listen on Apple Podcasts    More Listening Options...


New NIKE Metcons

The most comfortable, most versatile training shoe Nike ever made has new colors for the New Year. Each Metcon comes with a Hyperlift heel insert to give you a little lift to tackle all those training goals.

  Morning Chalk Up  


19 Healthy And Hearty Oatmeal Recipes

You’ve been eating it since you were a kid and your parents wanted to fast track breakfast with a few packets of Maple and Brown Sugar Quaker Oats. But there’s a lot more to eating oatmeal than instant oats.



  • Adaptive Athlete Tom Miazga PR’d his clean and press at 150 pounds.
  • Congratulations to Paul and Sarah Tremblay on the birth of their daughter, Sienna.
  • Regan Huckaby does a clean + 2 front squat complex at 245 pounds.
  • Mal O’Brien back squats 285 pounds for a 20 pound PR.
  • Mia Hesketh does a clean + hang clean + 2 front squat complex at 235 pounds.
  • Willy Georges pulls 572 pounds for a deadlift 3×2.
  • Katrina Rasmussen overhead squats 220 pounds for a PR.


Fundraisers and Events across the Affiliate Community

CrossFit boxes across the globe are lining up fundraisers, memorial events, and Hero WODs over the next several weeks. Here are a few we’ve got our eyes on:

  • CrossFit Airdrie: January 25, CrossFit Airdrie in Scotland will hold their annual Hero Wod designed by their member, Scott Meenagh, who lost his legs in an IED explosion in 2011 while serving with the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan. As the paratroopers were rescuing Meenagh, a second IED explosion killed Private Martin Bell who shielded the injured man with his own body. CrossFit HQ has confirmed that it will add this WOD to its official list of Hero WODs soon.  
  • Blackbird Hero WOD: February 1, CrossFit 313 in Burleson, TX will hold a community-wide WOD and benefit for gym owners Tanner and Anthony Trujillo who lost their 6-year-old daughter, Raven, in a tragic accident. They are selling Blackbird t-shirts and all proceeds will go to the Trujillos to help cover the cost of medical bills.
  • Nate WOD: February 4-17, CrossFit boxes across the country will once again compete and raise crucial funds in honor of Nate Hardy, a Navy SEAL, Purple Heart recipient and hero killed in action, and his brother Josh, who lost his battle to childhood cancer. All funds will benefit One Summit, a nonprofit organization that builds resilience in kids battling cancer through mentorship with a Navy SEAL. This year the event is presented by NO BULL.
  • Do More Charity Challenge: February 22, CrossFit Loop in Castle Rock, Colorado will host the Do More Challenge in which every dollar raised by the corporate sponsors and teams will be donated to non-profit organizations across the nation.
  • Justice for Elizabeth WOD: May 9, CrossFit Menace in Brighton, MI will hold a justice/memorial WOD to bring attention to the unsolved 2019 murder of gym member Jacob Jurden‘s sister, Elizabeth Link, as well as to honor her.   


+ Submit an Event

1/17: A Grand Day at Frantic (Cannington, Australia)
1/18: The Force Wars 2020 (Pembroke Pines, FL)
1/18: 3rd annual Battle For The Axe (Brainerd, MN)
1/18: Row For Reveille (Poulsbo, WA)
1/18: NCK Throwdown 2020 (Concordia, KS)
1/18: Lone Star Shootout (Dallas, TX)
1/18: CrossFit Krypton V.2 (Chesapeake, VA)
1/25: The Blizzard Brawl (Waite Park, MN)
1/25: Cerberus Powerlifting (Blue Springs, MO)
1/25: Reindeer Gainz III (Donna, TX)
1/25: 2020 Winter Swolestice (Fayetteville, AR)
1/25: Lost River Rumble II (Bowling Green, KY)
1/25: Cold Steel Classic (Oswego, IL)
1/25: HYROX Chicago (Chicago, IL)
1/25: Battle of the Ages (Norwood, MA)
1/25: New Year. New You. Fit Duo Games. (Austin, TX)
1/25 – 1/26: Madtown Challenge 2020 (Madison, WI)
2/1: Krypton’s Compete for a Cure (Chesapeake, VA)
2/1: Warrior Affiliate League Fantastic 4 (Chino Hills, CA)
2/1: Wodi Gras 2020 (New Orleans, LA)
2/1: Great Lakes Games 2020 (Plymouth, MI)
2/1: Crossfitting 4 Cures (Bowling Green, KY)
2/1: Winter Swolstice (Duarte, CA)
2/8: Thoroughbred Throwdown (Ocala, Florida)
2/8: A League of Their Own Challenge 7 (San Antonio, TX)
2/8: Black Ops 4 (Wheaton, IL)
2/8 – 2/9: The Ice Bowl 2020 (Green Bay, WI)
2/8: Love Is Love Invictus Boston (Boston, MA)
2/8: Cupids Clash (Cape Coral, FL)
2/8 – 2/9: CrossTrain.PH Invitational 2020 (Manila, Philippines)
2/8: Cupid’s Massacre (Laguna Hills, CA)
2/8: Winter Warfare 2.0 (Berea, OH)
2/8: Valentine’s Day Massacre (Beaverton, OR)
2/15: Swolemates (Northville, MI)
2/15: Valentine’s Day Crush (North Hollywood, CA)
2/15: Hail to the Team (Astoria, NY)
2/15 – 2/16: Tribal Clash Australia (Wollongong, NSW, Australia)
2/15: Sweat-Heart Throwdown (Barre, VT)
2/22: Battle of the Lake IV (Denver, NC)
2/22: Battle of the Fittest VII (New York, NY)
2/22 – 1/22: Shake N Bake Throwdown (San Antonio, TX)
2/22: Masters of Fitness 2020 (Cape Coral, FL)

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