There’s a good chance that most competitive CrossFit athletes got their start competing at some kind of local “functional fitness” competition. When I started in 2010, my coach Brian asked a small group of us to travel about an hour north to a different affiliate and compete against other CrossFitters from the area. This sounded like a crazy idea.
At this comp, there were two divisions: Rx and Scaled. I’d estimate about 40 athletes participated. There were two events total, and I took second place overall in the Scaled division.
Now athletes can compete in all types of competitions every single weekend of the year if they are willing to travel and take the time to register or, in some cases, complete an online qualifier.
There are some “big boys” in terms of the non-CrossFit-sanctioned competitions such as Wodapalooza, the East Coast Championships (aka the ECC), the Granite Games, The Fittest Games and Heart of America. These are just a few of the competitions where anyone could be warming up right next to some of the top athletes in CrossFit and competitive fitness.
But for us true grinders, the local comps are still our “Games.” These more regionally attended events usually last the length of a Saturday and boast three or maybe four workouts done mostly in teams or pairs. Even in these, the level of competition and the environment of the event have been ratcheted up dramatically in the past six years. Vendor tents, multiple divisions, merchandise for sale and fundraising efforts have all given the athletes and the spectators more of a Regionals or Games kind of environment.
Even the level of athlete has evolved. Back in 2011, there was an organized fitness league known as the MCFC. Once every two months during that year, a group of us would travel to a different affiliate throughout Central Illinois and compete as individual competitors in either the Men’s or Women’s division of Scaled or Rx. There were about 65 registered male x-level competitors, and I finished about 20th in the league.
This past weekend, five years stronger and more experienced, my team took 24th out of 24 in the Intermediate division. During the day, my teammate and I both hit some of the biggest lifts of our lives and set higher scores in the events than we even planned to.
There are a couple of factors in that. One, even though I was able to clean 50 pounds more in Saturday’s strength event than I could in 2011 when I was a top 20 Rx athlete, the level of competition in terms of numbers of competitors and ability has really skyrocketed. Second, many of the athletes who would have easily been “Rx” in 2011 are now competing in Scaled and Intermediate. The reason being that in order to draw more “Regional-type” athletes to these comps, the weights used and programming have to be leveled up, as well. As a result, athletes who consistently complete Rx workouts at affiliates now have a tendency to compete in the non-Rx division.
With all the changes, along with the evolution of the CrossFit Games, Regionals and Open, it’s only natural that the community would see a trickle-down effect at the local competition level, as well. This isn’t a bad thing because raising the expectations only drives people to test their fitness and push their limits beyond what they once thought was possible.
Because of that, the local comps will continue to be a significant part of the CrossFit and fitness communities.
What are your experiences with competing at a local level? How do you view the changes you’ve seen over the years?
Stay on the grind.