Last weekend saw the largest Courage Games to date. I'm not going to lie, I was a good bit nervous because i had designed things for a 2-day event but switched it all to one because of people getting nervous about the Super Bowl that would be played on Sunday. I knew the workouts would be tough for one day, but totally doable, and I knew all the athletes would be fine. All I was nervous about was timing everything. In the end, we went over by just under three hours! But, so many people stayed all the way to the end, and I must say, all in all the day was a huge success. Let's recap!
Well first I want to make a few shout outs. First off, CrossFit San Mateo. Co-hosting the event by letting us all in their awesome gym was huge. It would have been total chaos had we not had that great space to workout in and they were all so wonderfully supportive of the event. So big thanks to the San Mateo crew: Brendon Mahoney (who took 4th in the competitor male category), Manny Ferrer (who tied for 1st in the amateur male category and finished 2nd after the tie-breaker), and Melissa Guitron (who was a huge help all day as a judge and volunteer). Next is a overwhelmingly HUMONGOUS thank you to all the volunteers and judges. They were all so on their game and so incredibly helpful throughout the day. This event happened because of all of them and they deserve pretty much most of the credit for everything running the way it did. Thank you, thank you, thank you! OK, on to the event!
Athletes began showing up bright and early around 6:45am and we had a full packed house by 7:30. Sponsorship vendor booths were all set up, athletes had they recovery corners scouted out, both gyms were being explored and the air was filled with excitement for what the day would bring. And the athletes did NOT disappoint! The first workout (a 3-event workout with a max back squat, 400 meter run and 100 double unders, and a max shoulder to overhead) I think had well over 10 PR's amongst the athletes. Things ran very smoothly except for one thing: the damn plates! Luckily all the athletes had to suffer the same challenges so there was no unfair advantage for anyone. But those plates were greased up like nobodies business. Unfortunately we got the shipment in only a day before the competition, and try as we did, we could not rid the plates of their layer of "new plate grease". I know it slowed some people down, but again, everyone had to deal with them! And despite that challenge, there were still so many impressive lifts.
Workout 2 was a quick one, running athletes anywhere between 30 seconds and 50 seconds. This was a short, heavy prowler push followed by a T-drill (an agility test where you must show your ability to change direction, sprint, back-peddle, and laterally shuffle). Given the space, we could only go one athlete at a time, but it went so smoothly and drew a good bit of attention from the CalTrain passengers waiting on the platform. Over 100 people crowded around and cheered on the athletes as they drove those sleds from Courage Performance to CrossFit San Mateo for the agility test. It was damn awesome. The day moved on with a ton of positive energy as the sun broke through the clouds and hanging around outside seemed to be a pretty nice thing to do between workouts. And that good atmosphere was needed as the athlete prepared themselves for what clearly was the "beatdown" workout of the day: 500 meter row, then: 21-5-15-9 of deadlifts (heavy) and toes to bar. I set the cut-off time at 12 minutes and the average time on the day looked to be around 9. We all got to see some damn impressive feats, along with a few athletes who got good and beat by this one. From a competition standpoint, this one really separated the top level athletes from the others. From a personal standpoint, I enjoyed having my gym filled with energetic athletes and spectators all getting fired up as the last reps were pulled. My gym is meant for smaller groups of specialized clients so it was a pretty cool feeling to have the walls bursting at the seams with how many people were in there!
Probably the most interesting event was event 4. With 10 minutes all the athletes had to give one attempt at a max reps bench press, then max reps pull ups, then a max weighted plank hold, then 3 attempts to get a max distance broad jump. For me, watching how athletes prepared for this and moved through it was the most interesting. I honestly didn't even know who won the specific events until about two days later when I sat down to go over all the scoring. Some went all out, others took their time completely, while others paced their rest depending on what they had coming up next. I love this style of workout because it truly tests specific aspects of fitness while also forcing the athlete to plan out their entire approach. And it's as simple as not knowing yourself and how to plan these sort of things out that can cause someone to lose a whole bunch of spots in their placement. That's what made this one so exciting for me. This was also one that our volunteers truly made happen. With all the weight adjustments on the bars, and dumbbells (for planks) to utilizing two gyms throughout the workout, all them them worked flawlessly together to make sure the athletes got the most out of this one.
The final workout began as the sun went down and there was a crazy excitement as the spectators packed in around the final 6 athletes in each division. With a descending ladder of heavy cleans, handstand push ups and varying levels of pull ups (normal kipping, chest to bar, and muscle ups) the top finishers had a beast of a workout to battle through as they closed out the day. And yet again they did not disappoint! They struggled through; some not able to finish as the days volume caught up to them, others pushing to their very limits to fought for another spot and possibly the podium. The competitor men's division was awesome to watch because when they finished those crazy heavy cleans and HSPU's, they had to ruin over to the other gym to complete the muscle ups. Each on of them fought like crazy to the very end, it was incredibly motivating.
In the end we had a tie for first in both the Masters men and Amateur men. The tie breaker was: 1 minute AMRAP burpees to a target touch. It, was, intense! But we came out with our winners:
Crashing down onto my couch after we cleared things up a little and grabbed some food, I was able to soak in the entire day. With only a couple small hiccups, this was far and beyond the smoothest and most exciting event I have put on. I could not asked for a better group of athletes and spectators, the sponsors were an incredible support, and my volunteer crew was overwhelmingly helpful and efficient. The day went so damn well! People have been posting pictures and videos on Facebook and I would love it if you kept on doing so, and tagging myself and/or the Courage Games page.
Thank you so much everyone for making this event such a great one. And please keep your eyes open for the announcement of the Courage Games "throwdown series" coming in late summer (I will be hosting one every summer, and a "combine series" event every winter!). I want to be sure to give a shout out to Breeze Scoring for hooking us up with the most flawless scoring system. I wasn't planning on using one until the last second and I am SO happy I did. We were easily able to just punch in scores directly after the workout and have them clearly displayed on the site for everyone to see. Could not be happier with how that worked out. I also want to give a special shout out to Jon with Merrell who stepped up and was able to hook up an athlete with a pair of their awesome minimalist shoes (I've worn them every day for almost two months now, they freaking rock) after I forgot to load up a bar for him on workout 3. He was a great sport about it and Jon at Merrell stepped in big time to thank him for his understanding. Finally Destino Retreats who donated a FREE VACATION TO CABO to our Competitor Men winner. This is just flat out awesome support and the type of thing you can expect from Courage Games events!!
And of course, thank you to the sponsors:
Again, thank you everyone for making this such a great day. I am eagerly looking forward to the next one!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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