In another morning full of surprises for the athletes, they were brought to a remote location where there were no spectators, no coaches, and no live stream. Waiting for them was a 400 meter time trial event. The terrain they’d be covering, however, was no ordinary 400 meter stretch of land. It was an uphill battle with tall stairs, dirt paths, and waiting for them somewhere along the course would be a sandbag (60/40 kg) which was to be picked up and taken with them for an undisclosed distance. Then they could drop the bag and carry on with the uphill race to the end of the course. As was the case on day one, women were first.
This event is Katrin Davidsdottir. For years now her coach, Ben Bergeron, has been taking athletes to the now famous location known as Blue Hills, and no athlete has been there more frequently than Katrin. To put it bluntly, what they do there is run sprints up hills, often times while carrying things, like sandbags. Furthermore, she’s adopted and embraced the ‘sled dog’ mentality as part of her athlete identity. It helped her get the event win in a mental, grunt work style Games event last year called Chaos. And it helped her get the event win here too. She finished in a time of 4:06, four seconds faster than second place Dina Swift (4:10.6), and fourteen seconds faster than third place on the event Alessandra Pichelli (4:20.8). The result bumped Katrin into the overall lead going into event four.
There was no obvious man to watch on this event, and it’s starting to look like there really isn’t an obvious man to watch in the field. Streat Hoerner, who had a very disappointing event 2, rallied with a win today on event 3 finishing in 3:29.3. Meanwhile, yesterday’s leader, Lucas Parker struggled on this one placing 17th with a time of 4:23.9. He fell all the way to 6th overall in just one event, but is only twenty-four points behind overall leader after three events, Andre Houdet. The men’s race looks like it’s going to be very exciting and entertaining throughout the weekend!
The degree of brutality on this event became most real while watching Cole Sager struggle across the finish line. Cole trains with a similar mindset to Katrin, and has done well in numerous grunt work type events in the past at the CrossFit Games. He had a respectable ninth place finish in just under four minutes, but his legs looked wobbly as he crossed the finish line.
While there were impressive performances by the top men and women on this event, two things seemed to be true for all athletes. One, the sandbag portion was brutal with nearly everyone having to put it down and rest at least once. And two, as fans of the sport from a decade ago will recall (or those who have watched archives from the 2009 CrossFit Games), running up hill with a sandbag leaves humans in a heap at the finish line. The carnage was real for the athletes after this one, but with another event later in the day, their priority immediately became recovery.
(30 Bar MUs, 60 1-arm Overhead Squats, 900m Water Leg)
Athletes knew some details of this event, but were in the dark with regards to the water segment of it until arriving at the beach in the afternoon. When they saw the paddleboards waiting for them surely everyone’s minds registered the high likelihood of Australian athletes doing well. In 2015 at the Games Khan Porter was second on pier paddle and Kara Webb was first for the ladies. Last year, in the Madison Triplus, a pair of Aussies, Dean Linder Leighton and Tia-Clair Toomey, won the event.
With fifteen lanes available to them on the beach the women were all able to go as one heat. Former gymnast Courtney Haley took an early lead after the bar muscle ups. She held on through the single arm kettlebell overall squats and was in a group of three girls, along with Davidsdottir and Pichelli, that entered the water first. All the women handled the paddleboard relatively well; no one was able to chase down that lead pack. Katrin was first out of the water and claimed her second straight event win (12:52.3), extending her overall lead. This has got to be a great feeling for Katrin who had previously had finishes of 18th and 23rd at CrossFit Games events that included paddle boards. Pichelli finished second (13.16.8) and has moved up into third place overall. Haley had her best event finish yet taking third (13:21.6). Mia Akerlund notably took fourth on both events today and sits in second place, 26 points behind Davidsdottir and 10 points ahead of Pichelli after two days of competition.
Women’s Standings after Day 2:
The men were split into two heats. Australians James Newbury and Khan Porter were in heat one where both men showed expertise on the paddle board rising to their knees when the ocean permitted it. Newbury had the lead from start to finish and posted a blistering time of 10:13.9, which those in heat two would have try to chase down. Porter wasn’t far behind him finishing second in the heat with a time of 10:48.49.
Heat two was much tighter out of the gate, but on the single arm overhead squats Cole Sager showed the same proficiency he showed on them during the Chaos event at the Games last August propelling him into the lead entering the water. Unlike either previous heat (women’s or men’s heat one) there was jostling for position in the ocean among the leaders. Sean Sweeney, who was 6th in Madison last year on the paddleboard event, and Streat Hoerner both passed Sager. Sweeney took the heat win (11:18) but was unable to beat the times posted by either Newbury or Porter from heat one.
The scoring system at Fittest In Cape Town is closely tailored to the number of athletes competing. What we’re seeing therefore is that a poor event finish has an appropriately corresponding impact on the leaderboard. After two days of the competition there is only ONE Point between the 3 leading men - and yet there are eight men within fifty five points of the lead. That difference can quickly be made up given the parity in this field we’ve already seen.
Men’s Standings after Day 2:
The team competition is finally underway! 88 teams are participating in this community based event, but with a spot to the CrossFit Games also available for the team that wins there’s a new level of excitement and intensity this year as well!
The first event for teams was a grueling beach workout involving synchro pull ups, synchro kettlebell movements, buddy carries, and swimming. A lot was being asked of the teams and they were given a 30 minute time cap to finish under. One team, Vondelgym, out of the Netherlands, who were wearing orange swim caps to represent their country, were the only team to finish under the time cap and will take the overall lead heading into day 2 of competition.
Team Standings after Day 2:
The Teams just received a fun surprise via a social media release where it was announced that their previously released "4x400m Run Relay" would go straight into another WOD with a separate scoring opportunity!
This second piece is a relay involving the Row Erg, Ski Erg & Bike Erg before the team passes the finish line for the last time and is called "The Pain Train" - go teams.
Brian Friend is a free lance writer who has set his alarm to follow our events from early morning to late at night during these 4 days of competition - make sure to tune in for each days recap!