Dirty South Regionals

I just got back a few hours ago from the Crossfit Games Dirty South Regionals.

It was the first Crossfit competition that I’ve been to without competing. I found it kind of frustrating, even though I know I am no where near anyone who was in that arena competing. The lack of chicken sweat pre-WOD was replaced with helping Inception athlete Erich Roberts with mobility work prior to his WODs and pimping out Rumble By the River.

There were a lot of pretty bad ass people running around. It sort of felt like an extended family reunion. You knew enough people that you were always running into someone you either haven’t seen in years or that you see frequently while you were meeting new people at the same time.

It was definitely a Crossfit block party, and everyone was there with a sort of a purpose. While most were there to either compete, cheer on or coach a competitor, or to promote something. Everyone there really believed in promoting the sport of fitness. I got to talk to the guys from SICFIT for a while. They really put themselves out there for all of the smaller events in addition to being probably the best grass roots promotors for the Games for actual Crossfitters.

A lot of fun, but I would have rather been making an ass of myself with my lack of strength and overall poor physical abilities.

I met a lot of awesome Crossfitters there and was glad to be able to cheer on some really good friends.

Some of the things that I saw that I want to emphasize are, of course, nutrition and mobility work.

Everywhere I looked I saw both competitors and non-competitors doing mobility work. People were using products like the stick and various forms of lacrosse balls while they were sitting and walking around. I was not allowed into the athlete area (although I “found” my way into it a few times), and there were tons of ice baths, stretching bands, and messages to go around.

Bottom line is that if the best are doing it, than you should too. Do your MWODs

Nutrition was pretty funny. In the same group of people, you would see a few people eating paleo to include tons of people eating Paleo Kits. I love Paleo Kits not only because they are charitable, but because they are delicious. They are the staple of my diet when I travel and when I am in the woods.

The other people would invariably be drunk, in the process of getting drunk, or having an epic cheat day. The epic cheating post-elminination for competitors was always impressive.

For our part, we kept it pretty clean. The venue did an amazing job of catering to our orthorexia and had a lot of Paleo food available. The Holiday Inn could not keep enough bacon in their free breakfast buffet.

Most importantly, we had three pretty solid dinners. One at Ted’s, where most of us had the Bison burger and some had it without the bun. The first and third were at an amazing Brazilian Steakhouse. We came pretty close to putting the place out of business between the amount of meat that we ate and the reaction we had to the bartender who claimed to be a Ranger.

 

As for the competition. The judging was upholding a really high standard, but it was definitely consistent and professional.

It seemed that the difference makers for females was gymnastics and for males it was strength. This is an enormous generalization inherently fraught with exceptions and inaccuracies, but if I had to choose an aspect of physical fitness as the game changer for each, that is what it would be.

For the females (in both teams and individuals), there were very few WODs where strength really made a significant difference in the finishing order. Even in the Thrusters workout, the spread between first and the middle was not that great.

For the females, it really came down to gymnastics. This skill set is the reason why several of the qualifying athletes chose to go team instead of individual. While work capacity definitely factors into it, in the first (handstand pushups), fourth (pull ups), fifth (muscle ups), and sixth (toes to bar) workouts the limiting factor for females was almost always their gymnastics capacity.

This does not mean there were not outliers, namely Jessica Denney from World Camp and Kyri Harbrueger from North Atlanta whose performances on the Thruster and Deadlift/Box Jump workout were game changers. Besides those two performances, it seemed that gymnastics made the biggest differences for the most of the female competitors.

For the guys, it really came down to strength. Russell Berger won three of the six events, but the performance on the Thruster ladder kept him away from California.

This was also true for the third, fourth, and sixth event. The movements that really created the most separation were there deadlifts (most of the guys were pretty steady on box jumps), the kettlebell “swings”, the overhead squats, the squat snatches, and the ground to overhead.

All of the guys went through the pull ups, muscle ups, burpees, and lunge pretty steadily. The real difference was made under the load.

It was interesting to me that the monostructrual movements really did not play into the standings that much. The double unders, rows, and the run did not really separate anyone by any appreciable measure or means. Granted, I was not in any athletes head, but I did not really see any point where a slow start or trip ups on the rope affected anyone.

I think the most impressive thing about watching these athletes compete was their composure under fire. Almost everyone in the gym, myself included, is guilty of putting an extra “D” or two in WOD. The first would stand for drama, the second for douchebaggery.

None of the top athletes spent minutes pacing around exhibiting their pain face, dropping the barbell for distance, making pre-mature sweat angels, or slamming their jump ropes or kettlebells into the ground like they were to blame for the pain.

That’s not to say that they were robotic or going through these work outs pain free. Trust me, watch any of the videos or look at any of the pictures and you will see plenty of pain, emotion, and drama. You’ll just see much fewer drama queens than at you’re average Crossfit class in any box.

Its the 11th (or 12th if you think the 11th is looking good) physical skill of mental toughness. It was on display by the boatload in Jacksonville. You saw it with the comebacks, the never quit performances by people well out of contention, and the super human feats of strength in every WOD.

While the high rep WODs dragged a little because you had no idea of what repetition the teams were on, the weekend was pretty amazing. The sport is definitely growing. The venue, the sponsors, and the organization were all pretty amazing. Definitely another level from what I’m used to.