Denmark & 2012 CrossFit European Regionals

Today I'll be a bit of a travel blogger as well as giving you a round up of the 2012 European CrossFit Regional in Copenhagen Denmark.

In the past whilst competing, I've flown into countries competed and left as quick as I arrived. I never really experienced the new city, country or culture I was in. I'm sure you all understand my predicament especially the jet hopers who travel Europe and the World working, but only ever really see the airport, hotel and office before heading back to the airport for home. Quite frankly it sucks! This time I was making changes.

We decided to fly out two days early to see what Copenhagen was all about. The first thing that struck me was how friendly the Danish are, people actually stopped and offered a hand to point us in the right direction whilst observing us finding our bearings on the map. Copenhagen itself was very pretty. It seemed the Danes had taken their old industrial city and converted the warehouses into modern metropolitan city apartments, restaurants & cafe's.

Our first visit was to the royal palace and it's gardens. The weather being awesome, the gardens were scattered with bikini clad chicks working on their tans, in fact I don't recollect seeing a single dude in the park (haha I can see most blokes reading this already booking their tickets to Denmark with the picture I'm painting). Walk through most parks in the UK on a hot summers day all you seem to get is sun burn, wife beaters (singlets for anyone unfamiliar with British slang) and a can of special brew (extra strong beer).

After the palace and garden visit we decided the quickest way to get to see the whole city was to take a canal tour. This was great, we were whirled around the city in just over an hour with a guide explaining Copenhagen's most famous landmarks. The one thing I wish I had a chance to do was walk up the city church's spire, whose stairs were on the outside of the spire. The tour guide informed us as Copenhagen had very few tall buildings it was actually one of the highest points over looking the city, this meant spectacular views. Unfortunately we arrived a little after its closing time so I missed out.

CF European Regionals

Athlete registration commenced the day before competition. Ballerup Super Arena was incredible, the place was huge and I couldn't believe how steep the sides of the cycle track actually were.

The first person I bumped into was Juha who shook my hand and asked how I was feeling and if I had a good trip from London. I was shocked, I couldn't believe he recognised me. Juha is the coach of probably Europe's most famous CrossFit athlete Mikko Salo who was world champion in 2009. Juha and his Rogue Fitness Europe team were busy building the rig to be ready for the next day. After doing a lap of the arena I decided to head back and start to focus as the butterflies had started to kick in. The whole walk back to the hotel I couldn't wipe the smile of my face thinking about competing in the arena. I spent the rest of the evening talking strategy with Alex Clarke who was also competing. I was determined to push myself to the max, but enjoy every minute of the experience.

[Event 1: 21-15-9 Dead Lift @ 100Kg; Handstand Push Ups]

This was probably going to be my strongest event so I was focused on flying out of the blocks. Considering the week prior I had done this workout in 2 minutes and 8 seconds, i felt pretty confident I could win the workout or be in the top 3 after event one. The first set of dead lifts went well, finding myself first to the wall for the handstand pushups. The handstand pushups started to go wrong quite early. I quickly racked up a lot of no reps due to my hands touching the tape in the allotted space we were giving to achieve the movement (36"). I was a little frustrated when I completed the workout in 3.38 receiving 11 NO repetitions which quickly fatigued my shoulders and left the last set of handstand push ups an up hill battle.

[Event 2: 2K Row; 50 Pistol Squats; 30 Hang Cleans @ 103Kg]

I didn't mind the second event, I'm usually at at disadvantage to the heavier taller guys on the rower but you couldn't really row the workout quickly as it would leave you gassed for the rest. I figured I'd cruise and complete the 2K row in 7mins 30-45 seconds and catch up on the pistol squats.

I moved to the hang cleans with plenty of time left and completed the first rep comfortably. I then carried on into the second rep, however as I caught the bar at my hip to initiate the next rep, big chunks of my skin pulled from my hands. It was the last thing I needed. Cleaning 103kg is hard enough without ripped hands. It made every rep agonising and my head was quickly going into preserve your hands mode and not finish the workout at all costs mode. These things happen from time to time but hadn't happened for a about a year.

[Event 3: 4 Rounds of: 10 x One Arm Dumbbell Snatch @ 46Kg; Sprint 60m]

[Event 4: 50 Back Squat; 40 Pull Ups; 30 Push Press/Jerk ; 50 Front Squat; 40 Pull Ups; 30 Push Press/Jerk; 50 Overhead Squats; 40 Pull Ups; 30 Push Press/Jerks]

Day 2 presented different challenges, the first being a one armed snatch of a dumbbell which weighed 46Kg and the other a monster of a workout which contained back squats, pull ups, push jerk, front squats and overhead squats.

Training left me feeling very confident in workout 3, but I soon realised during my warm up that my hands from the day before did not like lowering the dumbbell after each rep. The nearing on the handle which is designed for grip was grinding into the raw skin. I managed to finish the workout well before the cut off time but every rep hurt. The crowd were incredible, cheering every rep as I was the last athlete still going in the heat. The encouragement really made me grit my teeth and finish the workout, when really all I wanted to do was not lift the damn dumbbell again.

Workout 4 was much of the same, it involved doing a total of 150 squats, 120 pullups and 90 push jerks. Needless to say the pull ups were horrendous on the hands, but I just kept chipping away. All of the athlete looked so beat after this one. The competition had started to take its toll on everyone's body. One memory that sticks out is watching Marcus Herou on his hands and knees trying to take off his weights for the next round, his low back clearly giving him some serious grief. It brought the memories flooding back from 2011 regionals when my back went into spasm on the 100's workout out, I certainly felt for him.

[Event 5: 20 Double Unders plus Snatch starting at 70kg and moving up the ladder increasing 5kg each time]

[Event 6: 3 Rounds of: 7 Dead lifts @ 160kg; 7 Muscle Ups; then 3 Rounds of 21 Wall Balls @ 10Kg to a 10ft Target; 21 Toes To Bar; 92Kg Farmers Walk 30m; 28 Burpee Box Jumps; 92Kg Farmers Carry 30m; 3 Muscle Ups]

Day 3 had the workout I was looking forward to most, the snatch ladder. The crowd really get behind you as they did in 2011 on the thruster ladder and I seem to thrive on the buzz it gives.

Warming up I quickly realised I was unable to grip the bar anymore as a result of my hands. Lifting the very light warm up bar felt like my hands were on fire. Eventually I decided enough was enough I wasn't going to try the lifts. After watching the team events an athlete dislocated both shoulders going for his 3rd PB in a row. Already struggling to grip the bar I wasn't prepared to possibly have the same happen to me.

Initially I was very frustrated but eventually felt extremely positive about achieving what I had under circumstances. In addition my training partner Alex Clarke who owns CrossFit Tonbridge, was flying in 11th place and I was hoping he would fulfil my prediction of a top 10 finish for him after event 6. Alex put in an incredible performance beating several athletes in the final, however the points difference was to much to make the top ten. 11th is certainly an incredible achievement making him Britain's No1 CrossFit Athlete.

 

Overall

 

The event was an incredible experience, I finished 48th. I've described the trouble with my hands a lot in this blog but in no way do I intend it to take any credit away from the performance of all the other athletes. The fact is 47 men were better prepared this year than I was. Simple!!

The staff ran the weekend smoothly and efficiently with no hiccups that were apparent. The judging was very strict as it should be, but very consistent over every event. Every judge I had made the correct decisions and I never felt hard done by.

In 2011 the standards weren't up held across all of the athletes. The kettle bells on the 100's workout springs to mind. This year I felt the standards were indeed up held across the board. I would also like to thank the staff and judges for doing an awesome job and giving their time, which often people forget is as a volunteer.

Two British athletes who I feel deserve a 'big hand' are Rob Martin (9th) who actually lives in Mallorca and owns CrossFit Mallorca and Rob Manlove (16th) who owns CrossFit CM2 in Chelmsford. Other athletes to mention are Lacee Kovacs of Hungary who battled with Numi for 3rd place, Numi Snaer Katrinarson getting it by one muscle up.


 

 

One thing I'd like to highlight about all of the athletes is they are so determined and mentally strong. No one ever quits, no one ever surrenders! If they have niggles or feel the pace they just keep chipping away unless they are physically unable to do so or it becomes obvious they risk more serious injuries. My only criticism here is that some of the athletes do indeed injure themselves and must realise the fine boundary between seriously effecting their life outside of the arena. This attitude never give in, never surrender however certainly rings a bell with me, giving a chill down my spine as I sit here writing about my experience.