In CrossFit Games

September 21, 2011

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Hilary Achauer talks to Tony Budding and Dave Castro about how athletes ended up swimming in the ocean, throwing a softball and flying across monkey bars in 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games.

If you’ve ever thrown a surprise party, you know how difficult it is to bring all the pieces together while keeping it a secret. Now imagine if you had to keep the details of the party a secret not only from the guest of honor but also from the caterer, the bartender and the guests. Oh, and you’ve got film the whole thing, maintain a constantly updated website and broadcast it on Multiply that tenfold, and you’ve got a small sense of what it might be like to plan and manage the CrossFit Games.

That something like the CrossFit Games can take place with the main part of the competition secret from all but a few is a remarkable feat of planning, discipline and secrecy mixed in with a bit of insanity.

Sounds very CrossFit.

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12 Comments on “Finding the Fittest: Programming the Games”


wrote …

I'm not questioning the ethics or integrity of Crossfit HQ or Rogue, but how is the secrecy of the events maintained when Rogue provides all of the equipment and many of the top athletes are Rogue sponsored athletes, some working out at Rogue's headquarters?


wrote …

Mitch, the Rogue manufacturing team does know parts of some of the workouts in advance (like the Killer Kage, obviously), but not the reps, time domain, or weight. After talking to Tony and Dave, it was clear that they work really hard to maintain the secrecy. I also think most people don't want to ruin the surprise. It would be like opening your Christmas presents in July. Sort of a letdown. Thanks for reading, and for your thoughtful comment.


Ben O'Grady wrote …

How much calculation and debate went into the ocean swim? Since there's a higher degree of danger in ocean swimming and very few of the athletes were prepared for it, was that a reasonable risk to take?


wrote …

Ben, I learned from writing this article that hours of discussion and debate went into every workout. None of the elements are picked on a whim. As far as the swimming, they kept it short, and made it part of a longer workout so it wouldn't have a disproportionate effect on the competitor's scores. I think the lifeguards on paddleboards took away most of the danger, but it was an unexpected challenge, for sure. The message is: practice your swimming!


wrote …

To clarify on what Rogue knows and doesn't know, obviously, their top management and product development team knew about the specialized equipment that they were creating for us. But they do not get any insight into how that equipment will be used (beyond the obvious). For example, with the jugs, they had no idea what we'd put in them or how heavy they'd end up being. Before deciding on the farmer carry as an isolated skill, we debated a single jug carry and using them in various ways within other workouts. The integrity of the competition was maintained.


wrote …


Hopefully I can address your concerns with some detail:

1) We formed a division of Rogue called Skunk Works - This consist of four team members to include myself. Much like Lockheed Martin designing a new fighter jet, there is a very high clearance required to view that process.

2) There is no discussion outside of very closed rooms as to the items we are designing/building

3) It would be to our detriment both as a fan of the sport and in the form of the business relationship to reveal any of the equipment we are building

4) I know the items that we are building but the programming is held until the last minute by CrossFit. For example we bring bars but I don't know what they are doing with them

This is the same reason we don't pre-sell anything at the Games.

Our manufacturing facility is not at the same location as our HQ and all prototypes were kept at that facility. Entrance to that location was limited. This games season we are allocating that entire facility to our Skunk Works Division. Our main production is moving to a new facility.

We take the CrossFit Games very seriously and we would not violate operational security for anything. I want to see the sport grow and prosper, we will do nothing to slow that process!




wrote …

This is what I love about Crossfit. If there's an issue or question, it get's addressed straight from the top. Again, I wasn't questioning anyone's integrity or ethics, I just thought it was a fair and obvious question. I appreciate the quick and detailed response. For the record, I'm a huge fan of Crossfit, the Journal, Rogue and all the Rogue athletes. In fact, my programming comes straight from Thanks again.


replied to comment from Bill Henniger

It has occurred to me that so long as you keep on conducting yourselves the way you do, I'll know CF HQ has jumped the shark when it severs the relationship with Rogue.
If someone else comes along and offers to undercut you and the Games "division" of HQ accepts that offer then I'll know that the values that make CF something special have been lost.

Organisations like Rogue are rare and to be encouraged wherever possible.


wrote …

As far as a skills test for next year, I would love to see something like a max vertical jump and some sort of sprint distance for time? Maybe a 40 yard dash or a 100m sprint?


Fun article. thanks!
and it is great to know that the top level folks respond with such enthusiasm.
the games were great, the wods were incredible.
well done!


wrote …

Interesting. Wasn't it represented here that Dave Castro had no part in programming the Games?


wrote …

I'm pretty sure Dave Castro had something to do with the programming...if my boss programs a workout/competition for the guys at the shop and i go through it first as a tester then i am now part of the programming process. Dave Castro may not have come up with all the numbers but he certainly had something to do with the process.

By the way my new ROGUE hat is "constantly awesome"...that's a direct quote from the misses.

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