History of the CrossFit Games
The CrossFit Games are a grueling, multi-day competition in which the world's fittest athletes compete in the ultimate test of fitness.
What is the ultimate test of fitness? It changes every year, and the details are not announced until right before each event. Athletes train all year for a competition that is almost completely a mystery.
Click below for details of each year's competition:
CrossFit introduced the sport of fitness to the world in 2007, when a small group (around 70 athletes) gathered at a ranch in northern California for the inaugural CrossFit Games.
CrossFit founder Greg Glassman has always believed the fittest athletes would be able to handle any and every task so the first event of the 2007 CrossFit Games was chosen randomly. With Coach Glassman presiding, colored balls labeled with movements were pulled from a hopper. A workout was created on the spot, and the assembled athletes were soon tested by a 1,000-meter row followed by 5 rounds of 7 push jerks and 25 pull-ups.
With rowing machines humming in the California sunshine, CrossFit ushered in a new era of fitness competitions—an era where no points are awarded for style or appearance. The only way to win: do more work faster than anyone else, and let the clock be the judge.
The first competition was won by California’s Jolie Gentry and Canadian James (OPT) FitzGerald. OPT will be one of only a handful of athletes to compete in his 4th Games. Gentry will miss the Games for the first time due to pregnancy. CrossFit Santa Cruz won the 2007 Affiliate Cup by virtue of its members' placings in the individual events.
In 2008, the Games exploded, with approximately 300 athletes competing in 4 challenging workouts, including a variant of the signature workout Fran. About 800 fans were on hand to watch the event. The men’s half was won in truly dramatic fashion by Jason Khalipa of Santa Clara, CA, who came from nowhere to beat favorite Josh Everett. A documentary film, Every Second Counts by Sevan Matossian, was made about the competition, whetting the appetite of ravenous CrossFitters who were already counting down to the following July.
Caity Matter of Ohio was crowned the women’s champion, with Tanya Wagner of Pennsylvania only 10 seconds behind her in the overall standings. The Affiliate Cup, not yet an official team event, was won by the individual competitors from CrossFit Oakland.
The 2009 version of the Games marked the global explosion of CrossFit, with regional qualifiers held in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Iceland, Asia, Australia and Africa, as well as online. What started as a small event two years earlier was suddenly a global phenomenon.
With a JumboTron towering over the newly renovated Ranch, the next installment of the Games kicked off July 10, 2009. Surrounded by bleachers packed with almost 4,000 fans, just over 150 elite athletes competed in the individual contest, with close to 100 teams competing in the Affiliate Cup. Media crews documented the 8-workout main event from every angle, and fans all over the world flocked to the Games 2009 website for constant updates and live scoring via a specially designed software system. A live DJ, a vendors' tent village, and a beer garden completed the event.
Given the growth of CrossFit around the world, it was perhaps fitting that Mikko Salo of Finland arrived quietly in Aromas, but left as the CrossFit Games champion. The stoic Finn’s consistent performance (across 8 diverse events of CrossFit movements) earned him both the respect of his peers and a spot atop the podium.
Tanya Wagner, denied a victory in 2008, returned to Aromas to face an international challenge in the form of Annie Thorisdottir, a gifted young athlete from Iceland. This time around, the ebullient schoolteacher from Souderton, PA, was not to be denied.
The Affiliate Cup featured almost 100 teams competing in the first team competition, and after 3 WODs the crew from Northwest CrossFit was atop the standings.
A total of 45 men and 41 women participated in the 2010 individual competition. All of them had to qualify in order to enter the competition. The top 5 men and women from 2009 were automatically qualified. All past CrossFit Games champions were automatically qualified if they chose to compete.
After qualifying in the regional level competitions, 68 affiliate teams competed in the 2010 Affiliate Cup. Each team had between 4 and 6 athletes. The number of athletes competing in each event was dictated in advance, but the number varied from event to event. Affiliates competed in 5 different team workouts. These included a thruster/pull-up/buddy-carry workout; a deadlift, pistol and rowing workout; a max overhead lift; a chipper; and an obstacle course.
For the first time in CrossFit Games history, the 2010 Games featured male and female Masters competitions. Masters athletes qualified by completing a set of workouts at their local regional competitions. The qualifying workouts were the same for all regions. 15 men and 13 women over the age of 50 competed in the Masters competition. The CrossFit Games Masters competition was comprised of 3 workouts: Nancy (5 rounds for time of a 400-meter run, 15 overhead squats (95 lb./65 lb.), a max-deadlift event, and Fran (21-15-9 reps of thrusters (95 lb./65 lb.) and pull-ups).
Graham Holmberg of CrossFit Columbus won the men’s competition and Kristan Clever of Valley CrossFit won the women’s competition. CrossFit Fort Vancouver won the Affiliate Cup Trophy. Brian Curley won the male Masters competition and Laurie Carver won the female Masters competition. The complete results are available here.
The 2010 Games took place July 17-19 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA, with 9 events.
- Event 1: 9-7-5 repetitions of ring muscle-ups and squat snatches (135 lb. men/95 lb. women).
- Event 2a: Pyramid Double Helen: 1200-meter run, 63 kettlebell swings (52 lb. men, 36 lb. women), 36 pull-ups; 800-meter run, 42 swings, 24 pull-ups; 400-meter run, 21 swings, 12 pull-ups.
- Event 2b: Max Overhead: Within 90 seconds of completing Event 2, athletes had to get as much weight overhead as possible by taking a barbell from a rack and pressing, push-pressing or jerking it overhead.
- Event 3: As many rounds as possible in 7 minutes of: 7 deadlifts (315/205 lb.), sprint across stadium, 14 pistols, 21 double-unders, sprint back.
- Event 4: Move 600/370 lb. of sandbags down a set of stairs, over an 8-foot wall, into a wheelbarrow, across the stadium, over the wall and up the stairs. They were allowed to move the sandbags in any method they chose.
- Event 5: 7 rounds for time of: 3 cleans (205/135 lb.), 4 ring handstand push-ups (men)/4 handstand push-ups (women).
- Event 6a: 3 rounds of: 30 push-ups with hand-release at bottom and 21 overhead squats (65/95 lb.) with a wall rope climb between each element. 7-minute cap.
- Event 6b: 3 rounds of: 30 toes-to-bar, 21 ground-to-overhead (95/65 lb.). 7-minute cap.
- Event 6c: 3 rounds of: 5 burpee wall jumps, 20-foot rope climbs (3/2). 12-minute cap.
- Events 6a, 6b, and 6c were run back to back with only a short rest between as the athletes were given the details of the next workout. Athletes were unaware of the workouts until 30 seconds before they began.
Graham Holmberg of CrossFit Columbus won the men’s competition and Kristan Clever of Valley CrossFit won the women’s competition. CrossFit Fort Vancouver won the Affiliate Cup Trophy. Brian Curley won the male Masters competition and Laurie Carver won the female Masters competition. To see the complete results, click here. To access the 2010 CrossFit Games site, click here.
The 2009 Games took place July 10-12 in Aromas, CA, with 8 events.
- Event 1: 7-kilometer hill run
- Event 2: Deadlift ladder—one rep every 30 seconds, moving from 315 lb. to 505 lb. in 10-lb. increments (women went from 185 to 375 lb.).
- Event 3: 170-meter hill sprint with two 35-lb. sandbags (women used a single sandbag).
- Event 4: Row 500 meters, pound a 4-foot stake into the ground, row 500 meters (women used a 3-foot stake).
- Event 5: A couplet comprising 3 rounds for time of 30 20-lb. wall-balls and 30 75-lb. squat snatches (women used 14-lb. medicine ball and a 45-lb. barbell)
- Event 6: Max barbell snatch
- Event 7: A triplet comprising max rounds in 8 minutes of 4 handstand push-ups, 8 32-kilogram kettlebell swings and 12 GHD sit-ups (women used a 24-kilogram kettlebell).
- Event 8: Chipper: 15 barbell cleans (155/100 lb.), 30 toes to bar, 30 box jumps (24/20 inches), 15/10 muscle-ups, 30 push presses (40/25 lb.), 30 double-unders, 15 thrusters (135/95 lb.), 30 pull-ups, 30 burpees, 300 feet of overhead walking lunges (45/25 lb. plate)
Approximately 74 men and 72 women began the first event. All had qualified to enter by one of several means: winning previous editions of the Games, being one of the top 5 finishers from 2008, or by placing high enough in one of the 19 qualifying events in the spring of 2009. Scoring was based on relative finish, so the fewer points the better. The bottom 10 athletes (those with the most points) were eliminated from the competition after both the second and fourth events. Only the top 16 men and women (each) continued on to Sunday's events.
The team Affiliate Cup was held on Friday, July 10, and Sunday, July 12. It featured team workouts exclusively and was open to all teams who registered in time (no qualifying required). In the end, 96 teams competed. Each event required 2 men and 2 women to compete, but teams of 6 were allowed, and affiliates could select their representatives from that roster.
Mikko Salo from Finland won the men's competition and Tanya Wagner from CrossFit Apex in Souderton, PA, took the women's crown. Northwest CrossFit won the Affiliate Cup Trophy. To access the 2009 CrossFit Games website, which documented the event thoroughly, click here.
The 2008 Games took place July 5-6 in Aromas, CA, with 4 workouts.
Saturday (workouts performed in any order throughout the day)
- 5 deadlift (275lb. men, 185lb. women) / 10 burpees - 5 rounds for time
- Thrusters (95lb. men, 65lb. women) / pull-ups - 21, 15, 9 reps for time
- 750-meter off-trail steep hill run
- 30 squat clean and jerks (155lb. men, 100lb. women) for time
Every second counted. The overall winner was the athlete with the lowest combined time for all 4 workouts. Jason Khalipa won the men's competition and Caity Matter won the women's competition. CrossFit Oakland won the Affiliate Cup Trophy. To see the final results for 2008, click here. To access the 2008 CrossFit Games website, which documented the event thoroughly, click here.
The inaugural 2007 Games took place June 30 through July 1 in Aromas, CA, with 3 workouts.
- A hopper workout that was literally determined at random:
- 1000-meter row, immediately followed by
- 5 rounds of: 25 pull-ups, 7 push jerks (135/95 lb.)
- A 3-kilometer off-trail hill run
- The CrossFit Total
The scoring was based on points per finishing order, and the winner had the highest total points. James Fitzgerald won the men's competition and Jolie Gentry won the women's competition. CrossFit Santa Cruz won the Affiliate Cup Trophy. For a review of the 2007 Games, read Dave Castro's CrossFit Journal article, Reading Between the Lines.