Saturday, November 10, 2012

Swansea: Divided We Fall Games

It's been quiet on our end for a few weeks; we had a pretty tame weekend October 26-27 that I wasn't really able to stretch into a post.  The more exciting things we do out here the the harder it is to write about the more "normal" weekends we have sandwiched in between.  Not to say we didn't have a great time!  We met up with work friends and visited the Nottingham Castle to watch some Medieval times-esque jousting.  When we couldn't stand the cold any longer, we hit up the pub and enjoyed some very good burgers - the first I've had that actually qualified as a burger and not a meatloaf sandwich.

Falconry demonstration

So let's press on to more interesting things - the biggest UK-based CrossFit team competition Divided We Fall 2012 in Swansea, Wales.  109 teams from around the country competed over 2 days, with the top teams completing 8 grueling events before the winner was declared.   A team consisted 2 women and 4 men, and the events required combinations of 2 to 6 members.  Kerry made the team to compete for CrossFit Nottingham!   While I was beat out of the top 4 by some respectable men who put up some amazing qualifying performances, I did have the opportunity to be a part of the event as a judge.

Posh 4-star hotel so Kerry could recover properly

Partial team checking-in:  Rob, Katie, Scott, Ben, and Kerry.   Team Captain and Coach Andy had run off somehwere, sorry!

The stage is set, the crowd hums in anticipation

While the venue was large, it was in a basketball gymnasium, which posed a problem for a competition which involves a large amount of overhead weightlifitng.  No drops from overhead were allowed, and if it was done intentionally penalties were incurred.  It was ironic because CrossFitters love to drop bumper plates from overhead.   Dropping weight is half the reason CrossFit gyms ("boxes") exist, since big fitness complexes usually have rules against it.  There's not much more satisifying really.  I still give the event organizers a lot of respect for their organization, but hopefully a venue with concrete flooring can be found next year.

Andy, Katie, and Ben after Event 1- 8 minutes of  as many rounds as possible of 1 burpee, followed by a single-leg squat on each leg.  As a team they averaged 11 per minute!

Me from behind demonstrating a proper burpee finishing position after having to take away a valuable repetition

CrossFit Nottingham fans can be spotted by their tell-tale Robin Hood hats, modeled here by Dani.

Kerry's participated in the 2nd workout of the day, named "Jackie".  This is a deceptively difficult full-body workout consisting of a 1000 meter row on an ergo rowing machine, 50 20 kg barbell thrusters (thrust the barbell overhead from a squat position), and 30 pullups.  As this was a team workout, 1 man and 1 woman from the team must complete the work as fast as possible.  Rob's incredible rowing ability - maintained a pace of 1:35/500m - plus Kerry's efficient pullup ability resulted in a strong finish for Nottingham in about 13 minutes putting them in 15th place overall after

Kerry rocking some "butterfly" pullups with teammate Rob.  Check out those guns!  Be afraid, notice how Rob keeps his distance.

Team Crossfit Nottingham worked their way up the ranks after day 1.  Scott and Ben knocked out huge numbers of reps for 2 minutes of 155 lb push jerks, 2 minutes of 45 lb weighted pullups, and 2 minutes of nimble ball catches.  OK - I'm an outward critic of the 3rd event, which was a test of agility by bouncing a lacrosse ball against a board and catching it.  We might as well have played hopscotch - boring to watch, silly to judge, and in my opinion does not qualify as a fitness event.  It's ok, sometimes bad ideas propagate all the way to the international CrossFit games *cough* softball throws *cough*.   The sport of fitness is still fun.

To wrap up Day 1, Kerry and Andy knocked out the longest workout of the day, which required them to move a bumper plate from the ground to overhead 84 times (21-18-15-12-9-6-3), between each set they had to complete 7 pull ups and 30 double unders with a jumprope.  More pullups, yikes!  Kerry did 79 pullups in a competition environment in one day, in addition to a host of other grip-destroying movements.

Andy and Kerry jockeying for 1st place in their heat

We finished Day 1 in 8th place!  The Nottingham crowd was going wild with this result.  This easily qualified us to continue on Sunday, when the cut the field from 109 to 50.  The night was tame; even watching a competition is exhausting, with most people standing for nearly 10 hours.   For the competitor, recovery performance is just as important as the workout event.

Swansea at dawn - plenty of rain here

Day 2 increased in technical difficulty, with the first workout of the day requiring the team of two men and two women to complete 80 hang snatches (to a full squat), 60 toes-to-bar (an abdominal destroyer), and a shuttle sprint relay with burpees, twice!  As a judge I had to issue a lot of "no-reps" for improper range of motion.

Lots of counting today...
Some amazing performances were put on by other teams.  One highlight was watching Train CrossFit out of Manchester, home of Sam Briggs.  She was a strong finisher in the 2011 Games, took 2012 off for a knee surgery, but looks healthy and ready for a strong 2013 season representing Great Britain and Europe.

Kerry (on the floor doing burpees) racing against Sam Briggs (running backward in black sports bra and shorts)

The huge number of snatches required in this workout really separated the field.  If you had bad form or a team where 1 or 2 members could not perform the movement, you would not finish.   Nottingham was prepared, and a strong finish resulted in a bump up to 5th overall  -well beyond expectation!  The field was cut to 20.

A strength component followed, where Katie and Rob had to complete the Bear Complex - a compound exercise of clean+front squat+push press+back squat+rear push press.  They had 50 seconds to complete before moving on to the next, heavier weight in 10 lb increments.  There were some super strong teams here, and while Nottingham had a great result, the field was cut from 20 to 10.  Nottingham was 11th, and missed the cut by 1 place!  While we were upset by this temporarily, the team put on amazing performances and had nothing to be sad about.

We stayed to watch the finals, where the top 5 teams completed their 8th workout of the day.  This time, every team member had to contribute, and the winners emerged from CrossFit Bath, who had hovered near the top the entire weekend.

Well, this could easily be the most exahusting weekend yet!  We unfortunatly had no time to explore Swansea or southern Wales, as we had to drive 3.5 hours home so I could go to work.  We spent the entire weekend in a gymnasium, haha!  It was a great time hanging out with friends from our gym, and fun to be a part of such a huge UK event.  

CrossFit Nottingham cheering section

Well, if you are not a Crossfitter I'm surprised you made it this far through the post.  Big weekends coming up, folks!


  1. Interesting post. I think I tweaked a couple of long forgotten muscles just reading about the event. Congrats to Kerry and the rest of the team for a job well done, how exciting that you can include CrossFit in your UK experience.

  2. Still catching up after being out of the country for a while. I didn't realize Kerry wears the pants in your relationship.... just kidding. Nice work