I didn’t compete and there is a very good chance that if you are reading this you probably didn’t either. (No offense.)
The reality of entering the Open each year is not trying to qualify for Regional but to be a part of something bigger and create a shared experience in both my local and worldwide community.
For the grinders out there like me, watching the drama of these events is the next best thing. Here are my takeaways from this year’s Regionals.
- 1. The Coverage: Standing golf clap to Dave Castro and the fine people who run the Regionals for the excellent video, live coverage and commentary of nearly all the events (Africa and Asia didn’t have live feeds). If you had a friend across the country or world, or you’re just a big Chris Spealler fan (like me), there was all the coverage you could handle. By expanding the coverage to every event at nearly every Regional, it was the best fan experience I could have asked for without actually putting the time in to travel to these various events. Being able to pull open multiple tabs and flip back and forth between teams, men’s and women’s events was awesome.
- 2. Love it Live: I’ve said it before but like most sporting events, you cannot substitute watching these events online for how they play out live. If you didn’t actually make it one of these, you need to make a plan to do so next year. The people in the stands, the vendors to wade through, the smell of Paleo food in the air, the screaming crowds with matching shirts and signs, the fit bodies walking on and around the event floor…there’s so much to love. The coverage online is tremendous and will compact the experience for you in terms of time and money but unless you’ve been there and been a part of it, you just don’t know what a real Regional experience is like.
- 3. Not All the Fittest Made the Cut: For starters, let me say I like the setup with the geographically based Regionals around the world. Really, how else would they do it? The changes this year made people more honest in terms of having to train a certain amount at an affiliate in order to qualify for a Regional, especially for teams. But if we are being completely honest, did all the Fittest on Earth really qualify? No. Nothing against some of the Regional athletes who made it to the Games, but it could easily be argued that Sam Briggs could have probably walked away with a first place in several other regions and that Graham Holmberg or Lindsey Valenzuela might be booking flights to Carson if they lived in a different part of the world.
- 4. Sponsors, Sponsors Everywhere: I like Reebok and all they’ve done as a sponsor for CrossFit, especially the Games. The Regional is a chance for athletes to help out their sponsors by sporting their shirts and gear on the live broadcast and around the event so that fans can become familiar with some of the new companies. I know that every year I see more and more apparel companies’ names on competitor shirts and shorts. This is a great relationship between company and athlete that is very symbiotic. The sponsors can provide gear and apparel for the Regional athletes to compete in and in turn they become walking billboards for them. The better the athletes perform, the more screen time they get, the more people see the shirts and gear. At the Games, Reebok dominates the apparel so this is really the only time most of these companies can display their stuff on a worldwide stage.
- 5. New Faces: While many cried “foul” around the community because some of their favorites were ousted by a poor score in one or more events, my own take was that the Events were balanced and fair. The most exciting side effect of this process would be all the new faces, which will be making their debuts at the Games this year. Some have been just one or two spots away and never could quite get it all together to land on the podium. Others are relatively new to the sport and are in for an exciting two months as the community at large scrambles to find out all about these newcomers. Fresh blood and the guise that anyone could still take their shot at the title Fittest on Earth is such a driving force for the Open and subsequently the Regionals as well. Some of my favorites to watch this year were unknowns last year at this time, so it just fills me with the sense of eager anticipation that new stories will be told and that a year from now we will all have more CrossFit heroes and heroines to follow and cheer on.
What did you think about the 2014 Regionals? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or email me at JTolgrinder@gmail.com.
Stay on the Grind.
Jamie Toland (JTol)