As many of you know, I competed in the Beast of the East competition on October 8th and 9th. The event was a Crossfit competition, held in Durham, CT. There were over 200 competitors there, with 171 of them being men. The competition lasted 2 days, and consisted of 6 events, with only the top 10 athletes moving onto the 6th event. I ended placing 50th out of the 171 men, so I did not make it to the 6th event. Sadly, I had a back injury that almost caused me to pull out of the competition. It significantly affected every event except the first one. I honestly believe, had I been functioning at 100%, I would have easily placed in the top 25 male athletes.
Listed below are the events that I competed in, as well as a few videos of me competing in them:
Event 1: 5k run
It was a very hilly course, and I completed the race in 24:44. While I only beat about 15 men, for a person who never runs (and hates long distance running), I feel pretty good about my performance.
Event 2: 1 Rep Max Clean and Jerk
I had 6 minutes to get to the heaviest weight possible on a clean and jerk. My back was really hurting on this one, which is why you see me use a belt after my first attempt. Had I been 100%, I would have easily done another 15-20lbs. Even in my condition, I ended with 240 lbs, which was a personal record!
Event 3: Max Reps in 2minutes for 275lbs Deadlift
I had 2 minutes to get as many reps as possible in my deadlift with 275 lbs on the bar. Again, my back was a huge hindrance, so I moved slowly and deliberately, making sure each rep was a perfect as possible. Despite my condition, I performed the first 30 reps unbroken, and managed to get another 9 reps before time ran out, totaling 39 reps.I suspect I could have gotten another 20 reps by moving faster if my back was 100%. Regardless, I still set a personal best in this event as well.
Event 4: 1 Rep Max for Barbell Turkish Getup
I had 10 minutes to get to my maximum weight on a turkish getup for 1 repetition. I only had to stand up with the weight. Once again, my back was a problem in this, limiting how smoothly I could transition through the steps. Despite my condition, I ended with 135 lbs, which was another personal record for me!
Event 5: 21-15-9 MetCon Medley
I had a 10 minute time cap to perform a 21 calorie row (concept 2 rowing machine), 21 overhead squats with 95 lbs, and 21 burpees, followed by 15 of each, and finally 9 of each. I was exhausted and in pain before I even started the event, so I moved rather slowly on the row and the overhead squats, out of fear of further injury. Despite that, I finished in 9:25. Many people did not even finish the event in time, and once again, I set a personal record.
Summary of the Event
Many of you know I have mixed feelings about CrossFit. Those feelings have only been substantiated by my participation in the Beast of the East competition. Overall, I had fun, and I certainly performed the best I could given my injured state. I enjoyed being around people who are equally as competitive, fit, and athletic. I also enjoyed the social support and networking that resulted from my participation. However, I do have some criticisms.
#1: This event was promoted to focus on strongman and strength events.
If that was the case, why was the 5k part of the event. Furthermore, why was the metcon (5th event) included. Neither has anything to do with strength. And in fact, you could argue that the 2 min deadlift event has very little to do with strength as well, certainly far less than a 1,3,or 5 repetition maximum.
#2: The standards of the events (and the judges) were horribly low.
For example, during the deadlift event, many athletes were driving the weight into the floor so that the bumper plates used would bounce up to knee height. That means those athletes were only pulling from their knees up. That is not a deadlift. If you look at my video, my reps are deliberate, with absolutely no bounce despite using bumper plates. A deadlift is pulling a weight from the floor to a fully erect position. Bouncing reps should not have counted, which is effectively cheating.
Another example is the turkish getup. We were asked to position the bar overhead from the ground, then get to our feet and establish control. Some judges allowed the athletes to elevate the bar off the ground using the unused bumper plates, making it far easier for those athletes to get the bar into position with only a fraction of the effort. Once again, if you have an uneven playing field, you are cheating.
#3: Drug use is clearly prevalent within this subculture.
Similar to my argument above about cheating and creating an uneven playing field, I can all but guarantee that many athletes are using performance enhancing drugs. I saw this in women there, as well as men. I am sorry, but if you expect me to believe that a 125lbs girl can perform a barbell turkish getup with 105lbs without drugs, you must take me for an idiot. The event, as well as all CrossFit events, are not regulated for illicit drug use. And given the Type A personality that is attracted to CrossFit in the first place, anyone looking for an easy edge in competition can quite easily be persuade to steroid use. There is a reason why they are banned from the Olympics. They work too damn good to be fair, and a lot of these athletes at the Beast of the East, in my opinion, were not playing fair!
#4: The event was disorganized.
I know that this was the first event of its kind, so there is bound to be unexpected problems. However, some of what I experienced was just due to poor planning. First, the chips used to record our 5k run time malfunctioned. That means many athletes got screwed with what time they had recorded, including me! Saturday's events were supposed to start at 8am, but we didn't even start getting directions until 9am. I'm sorry, but as a serious athlete who is spending time warming up and preparing for my first event, making me wait over an hour is going to hurt my performance. Sunday was no different, with start times being drastically different than what we were told. In the future, post the schedule and stick with it. Any athletes that are late, they should get penalized, not the rest of us who were prepared and on time.