THE 2009 CROSSFIT REGIONALS - THE FIRST EVER!
Whilst the CrossFit Games began in 2007, the first ever CrossFit Regionals did not begin until 2009, two years later.
Previously, those who went to the Games were largely from the US and invite only but due to the rise in popularity and a need to weed out the truly prepared from your average firebreathing CrossFitter, the Regionals gave all countries a chance to be represented on the world stage.
I will never forget the first ever regionals, held in Sydney at one of the first CrossFit boxes in Australia, CrossFit Fx.
Picture a roughly 300 square meter facility (this isn’t even the average box size these days which are around the 450 square meters), filled with kettlebells, bars, bumpers, some rowers, rings and two GHD’s.
Affiliate members from all around the country had come for this one special event, having previously registered to compete by contacting CrossFit Fx.
Thats right, no worldwide CrossFit Open, no 30 minutes waiting for Dave Castro to say the first movement of the Open and no 5 weeks of gruelling WOD’s.
You either signed up or you didn’t – anyone could compete.
What was so exciting about these times was that the level of competition was far less than what it is today and so you competed right next to the big names.
And unlike nowadays where they are catering to the masses, back then there was no scaling options. You either did it…or you didn’t.
THE NIGHT BEFORE DAY 1
I still recall the night before competition day. Understand that no-one had ever competed in Australia in CrossFit yet. No-one. This was the first ever large scale comp. And I was nervous as shit.
I flew up to Sydney late afternoon the night before and stayed at a family friends house. They were away so I had a lot of time to think before I went to bed.
I remember sitting on the couch trying to watch TV and thinking to myself…wtf am I doing here?! What is tomorrow going to be like? How will my body hold up? Will I be too nervous to really give this a red hot go? Something all those new to CrossFit and doing the 2017 Open for the first time will undoubtedly relate too.
That night I didn’t sleep a wink. I just lay there thinking about the first two WOD’s that had already been released.
5am hits and there’s no need for an alarm. I’m already awake. I shower, try to have some toast (nope that’s not staying down) grab my bag and head out the door, my mouth dry and throat sore already from the lack of sleep.
Traveling by public transport, I arrive to a sea of CrossFitters.
There were literally people from all over Australia with everyone buzzing in anticipation, nervousness and excitement. Something truly special was about to go down.
I headed inside the venue to sign myself in. Despite this being the first ever regionals, Mick and the rest of the support crew did an amazing job of running the competition – from sign in, to heat times, everything ran like clockwork and he still runs it like this today.
3 rounds for time:
10x Clean & Jerks (60/40)
15x Ring Dips
20x KB Swings (24/16)
Now while most would look at this and think, that’s not too bad! This was 2009 not 2017!
Understand that back then this was a massive weight on the Clean & Jerk – previously in 2007 and 2008 we would do DEADLIFT WOD’s at Schwartz CrossFit Melbourne with this weight!
Too Clean & Jerk it for reps was epic.
I'm pretty sure I didn't finish the WOD under the timecap, which if I recall correctly was 15minutes. It hurt.
Commando Steve on the other hand did it in around 4minutes something if I recall correctly and from then on it was the Steve Willis show for the remainder of the competition. He moved like no-one else…FAST haha!
The biggest thing that stood out to me that still makes me smile to this day, was the support and roar of the crowd. With a box so small the noise was at times deafening. I’ll never forget this and Alex Richardson, who still trains to this day, stood by the sidelines along with many of the CrossFit Victoria crew yelling at me to pick up the “f&*king” bar and keep moving.
I still thank them to this day for this moment. I’ll never forget it.
21-15-9 reps for time of:
Adrenaline died down and I got some of the sample protein and beta-alanine that was on offer outside. I recall asking the guy “whats beta-alanine?” as back then I hadn’t heard of it. His reply “it makes CrossFit hurt less”. That was all I needed to know and after 3 shots in a row I hoped my whole body would just go numb for the next WOD.
I recall Brett Wiener, from CrossFit Melbourne, being in my heat. He and I used to push each other in training back when I was at Schwartz's, although he usually beat me so I was keen to use him as a benchmark during the WOD.
With less nerves than WOD#1, I took to the competition area and breathed deeply in preparation for the call of 3, 2, 1 GO! Within a flash we were already sprawled on the ground for our first burpee and up like lightning to get back up. The pace was quick. Very quick. I knew if I kept up this rate I’d be done by the time we hit the 15 rep sets. I slowed slightly but still kept close to Brett – my target.
He got on the rower first, with myself following about 5 seconds after. The pace was right on the edge between lactic acid overdrive and being just extremely uncomfortable.
The round of 15’s was tough – while Brett still had the lead I felt I could keep close enough to not let him run away.
We hit the rowers for the second time, legs and lungs burning, but no sign of slowing down.
The final set comes up. I noticed Brett was slowing down on the burpees, ever so slightly, and I made my move. Catching him on the last rep of the burpess and heading into the pull ups dead even. We went toe to toe and raced to the rowers to get on first.
That last 400m.
The lactic burn was something only the WOD “Jackie” could rival and we both wanted it bad. It was not until the last 100 meters that I saw I had him, edging him out by only a few minor strokes.
Pealing off the rower and collapsing on the floor my judge ran up to congratulate me.
It turned out I had just won my heat.
As a quick side note: Steve once again destroyed everyone in this WOD by a mile and ended up nearly having an asthma attack or some such afterwards. I don’t recall if the paramedics were called but it was pretty bad. He had pushed himself that hard – its no wonder he went to the Games. He was in a mental and physical league of his own.
After day ones WOD's, we were told to meet at a section of the Cronulla sand dunes on one of Sydney’s beaches for the final day of competition.
Everyone (except Steve) was sore as shit after day 1 and most were dreading what we were going to do.
The WOD - 3 laps of the Cronulla Sand Dunes for time.
My first thought: “F*&K!”
I’m not an incredible runner by any means. Then you go and add in DOM’s like you wouldn’t believe, sand and a hill that looked bigger than everest (ok slight exaggeration…it wasn't small).
While the run went ok, as in I made the finish line and didn’t die, the best moment came after finishing and watching the final heat of the day. A few of us were standing atop the sand dune hill as Ben Schwartz was making his way up for the third and final lap. Looking up at us his comment was priceless and is still laughed about to this day:
“F*&k my arse”!!!
Obviously referring to the extreme burning sensation of trying to climb up the hill. We could all relate.
The first ever CrossFit Regionals was an incredible time for CrossFit - a time where your average joe could really go to regionals and even to the CrossFit Games.
Whilst Steve Willis and Chris Hogan trotted off to the Games that year, finishing 31st and 4th respectively, I still recall those two days as if it were yesterday. Where the very first CrossFit Regionals took place, with some of the biggest names in the sport not even known at that time as they are today all competed.
Originals like the Hogan brothers (Chris & Kieran) and Maria Hogan, Bjorn Walker, Ben Schwartz, Matt Swift, Chad Mackay, Steve Willis (commando steve), Mick Shaw (director of the Australian CrossFit Regionals), Amy Dracup (multiple Games competitor), Scott Waugh (owner of CrossFit Victoria), Adam Stanecki, Peter Trapp, Nick Karp, Jake Moller, Ben Evans, Alex Richardson, Zane Hoare, Jason Haywood and many others whom I apologise to have left out in this list.
Some of these names you may know – many you may not. They were the OG’s and some of them are still highly competitive to this day.
Wishing everyone the very best for this years CrossFit Open and remember this all began for the Australasia region in a 300 square meter box in Sydney in 2009, at CrossFit Fx.
Here is a quick highlight reel from the weekend – I still have the full version on DVD from the event in my home today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcuJpDDxvqI
Yours in health & fitness,