Today was the first day of the Cypher Ninjas’ field trip to the Reebok CrossFit Games in Carson, CA. It started with a blur of people, and the utter shock of how big the Reebok CrossFit Games have become. Last year, when we walked into the venue there were a few booths with gear for sale, some throwdown stations, and of course some free giveaways…times that by about seven, and you may have an inkling of the size and scope of what the StubHub Center looked like today when we arrived.
The shear growth of CrossFit is astounding. For those few in our group who had been before, we kept re-hashing how much had changed in a year – imagine those scattered in the crowd who were lucky enough to have witnessed the first ‘Games’ on the ranch. Rumors have it that that first ‘Games’ was similar to a backyard BBQ.
People from all walks of life swarmed the StubHub center. All colors all shapes and all sizes. What always amazes me – even at smaller local events – is that all these different people can speak a common language. We all share a common experience in this quirky CrossFit thing. We can all relate to how it feels when you lie down on the ground, dripping in sweat and gasping for breath after finishing ‘Fran.’ It doesn’t matter if you finish in 2:30 or 20:30, that feeling is the same. That complete 100% expenditure where you feel so thankful that the experience is over, but somewhere deep down you cannot wait to embark on the journey again.
Tonight the Cypher Ninjas witnessed the Fittest on Earth…struggle. Dave Castro in all his brilliance dreamed up an atrocious workout that not only tested the athletes physically, but challenged the mind in ways he could only imagine. 27 thrusters, 4 legless rope climbs, 21 thrusters, 3 legless rope climbs, 15 thrusters, 2 legless rope climbs, 9 thrusters, and 1 final legless rope climb.
There is nothing more symbolic than a rope climb.
When a terrified new CrossFitter reaches the top of that rope for the very first time, the sense of pride and accomplishment on their face warms the entire gym. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the anguish felt by every athlete who has been ‘stuck’ halfway up the dreaded rope, forcing you to burn your hands as you slide painfully down to floor…not only experiencing physical pain, but the pure frustration that burns from within, can also be felt by anyone who is a witness.
Tonight, top athletes were brought to their knees, staring hopelessly at the seemingly never-ending rope dangling from the rig. These athletes who seem to be at a level that is completely un-attainable for the ‘average’ individual, were seen hopelessly staring into space and shaking their arms in the hopes that blood flow would work magic and bring them back to life. Some of these athletes were clutching the rope three-quarters of the way to the top, attempting to muster any possible piece of ‘umph’ within them to reach that extra bit to touch the rig. The struggle was no different than that first climb – than your first climb. We are always reminded that these tasks only vary in “degree not kind.”
Time after time these athletes fell, and time after time they leapt up onto the rope and struggled to the top. What always brings me to tears (yes, I’m a sap) is the emotion felt by the thousands of fans and fellow CrossFitters when this struggle unfolds on CrossFit’s biggest stage. Everyone is screaming, jumping, and pumping their arms – for athletes they may or may not know. The pure energy is nothing short of electric, and something that personally keeps me in the gym. Knowing that literally thousands of folks – whether present or not – can relate to the inner struggle that I am experiencing is something that I have yet to find in another forum. Being able to feel that thousands want me to succeed as badly as I think I do – well – it gives me the courage to grab the rope.
It’s only been one official day of competition. Travelling with the Cypher family shows the importance of this community. Being able to share it with thousands is just icing on the cake.
We all came down here excited and filled with anticipation – maybe to witness beautiful, strong people compete. Maybe to drink with friends, or maybe even to meet new ones. Or even just made the journey to shop. Regardless, we are all looking forward to Day Two of the competition. I cannot wait to see what moments unfold.
Sleep well Cypher Ninjas!